As I’ve mentioned, I got a lot of knitting books for Christmas. One of them really stands out in my mind, and it wasn’t the one I was expecting to be most excited by. It’s called Knitted Socks East and West by Judy Sumner.
Ms. Sumner got hold of a Japanese stitch dictionary and found herself majorly inspired. She put a lot of effort into deciphering the charts for the stitches and in learning the manoeuvres that she wasn’t familiar with. Then she kindly decided to write a book featuring many of these stitches in various forms of socks. The socks included are often somewhat eccentric: there are quite a few in heavy yarn (for socks, that is) as well as some that are not standard socks at all, such as the Fuji Pedicure socks featured on the cover. In fact, of the 30 designs, 7 are in sport to DK weight, 6 are in worsted are heavier and 5 are non-traditional designs, leaving just 12 “regular” sock patterns. In addition, each sock is given in only one size, and adjusting sizes is not easy – most of the stitch patterns are pretty large for socks.
I think the emphasis on non-standard socks may have been a bad idea and may have contributed to the book not getting the attention I feel it deserves (particularly the pedicure socks on the cover.) But, look beyond this! The 12 regular sock patterns are beautiful, all of the stitch patterns are worth exploring, and the new techniques are great to know. I haven’t yet knit a sock directly out of this book (but then, I don’t use other people’s patterns all that often anyway), but I have tried out three of the stitch patterns already.
The first sock in the book is called Konnichiwa (good day in Japanese) and has a very interesting stitch pattern. The socks themselves are knit at a gauge of 17 stitches to 4 inches. Here is my interpretation of this sock in a wristwarmer:
The stitch pattern looks like a fairly standard twisted stitch (or 1×1 cables) pattern. Which it is, but it uses a technique whereby the traveling stitch is slipped rather than knit, giving a clean elegant profile. (In fact, thinking about this gave me an idea, and I am going to try using this technique for the second of my Cherish socks – Meg never minds variation between socks.)
I also experimented with the stitch pattern from Chouwa, the second pattern in the book, but just on a tube for Meg, which I don’t currently have a photo of. This is a feather-and-fan stitch with a simple cable added. It makes a lovely design. I will definitely knit this in a full-sized object some time.
The third pattern I experimented with was the Fan Tabi socks. This has another stitch which is a variant of feather and fan. This one has the decreases handled differently, bands of seed stitch between the horizontal pattern areas and reverse stockinette ribs between the patterns vertically. Bad description, but it looks like this:
And that just scratches the surface of the riches this book has to offer. I recommend that you give it a close look. And think about variations you can do, not just about knitting the patterns as presented.