I’m going to start by saying if you knit socks, go buy this book. Now! Like right now. I’ll wait.
The title of this book is a misnomer. It isn’t about knitting for big feet; it’s about fitting your socks to your foot shape. Are your toes a trapezoid?? Mine certainly aren’t, and neither are the toes of anyone I knit for. So, why do I keep knitting trapezoidal toes?
Now, my socks obviously aren’t so ill-fitting that I can’t wear them, but if I’m knitting my own socks, why wouldn’t I make them fit perfectly? They have nubs on the toes and are tight on my calves, and often, I have a difficult time pulling them up over my heel and gusset area. And the thing that drives me craziest…sagging at my ankles!! Any of this sound familiar? Anyone? Bueller?
We spend so much time trying to fit other garments, why wouldn’t we do the same for socks?! Not to mention, garments (including socks) wear out more quickly when they don’t fit properly.
Why this book? Andi Smith breaks it down. She tells you in her preface you’ll have to do math, but she walks you through the math. She uses simple directions and explanations with charts, illustrations, and examples to tell you not only how to customize your socks, but also why.
In the second chapter of the book, she takes you through how and where to measure in order to get the best fit possible. She includes illustrations of various toe, heel, and calf shapes to help guide you in creating your perfect sock. There’s a chart for your personal measurements. (I bought the physical copy of the book just for this chart.)
The next chapter focuses on gauge and negative ease. This is where the math starts to come in. But it’s easy math. I’m telling you, as an English teacher who is number-phobic, you can do this math.
Chapter Four is called “Shaping the Sock”, and this was my second-favorite chapter. It focuses on types and spacing of increases and decreases and how to work them into the pattern and where. While I had used all these techniques at one point or another, I hadn’t ever considered why to use one increase over another or even how to space them out for best fit. So, thank you, Ms. Smith, for making me consider my knitting more carefully.
The following three chapters focus on ribbing, the heel, and, my favorite, the toe. Smith focuses on the afterthought heel, as it’s her preferred method. I’ve had bad luck with this heel in the past; it doesn’t seem to want to fit over my heel/gusset, but I’m willing to try again using her methods. She, in fact, gives suggestions on how to alleviate that problem. I do wish she would’ve discusses using other heels; however, the afterthought heel is typically the most easily modified.
But, the toe!! The toe chapter! Chapter Seven, “Room for Toes”. I had several “ah-ha” moments reading this chapter. I, in fact, spent several hours knitting and reknitting toes just to see how they’d fit.
For my first toe, I considered the left- and right-leaning shapes of my toes. I cast on more stitches and increased only on one side, but that didn’t take my big toe into account.
I ended up frogging that wee toe in order to add some room for my big toe. Some basic math using gauge and the size of my foot, and the toe fits so much better.
In the final section, she discusses taking the techniques “Beyond the Basic Stockinette,” including how to seamlessly add increases and decreases within a pattern. I’m specifically interested in this section when I get to the ankle and calf sections of my socks. My personal trouble areas.
Finally, she includes twelve patterns with charts for both cuff-down and toe-up versions. Each pattern includes hints on where to modify the size, as well as examples of how to do so. There are worksheets for each pattern detailing the fit for each size and position on the leg and foot. The patterns were simply an added bonus for me.
The photography for the book is lovely. In fact, I first noticed this book because of the pattern photos on Ravelry. Each sock is modeled both on a foot with a shoe and without on a blank background. The sock pattern is the focus. There are a few patterns where the yarn mars the pattern, especially in the print book; it’s much easier to see each pattern in the digital copy. And going to Ravelry and checking out the projects is a solution to this problem.
The graphics are incredibly clear and well-done. Each includes a detailed explanation of how to use it to achieve the perfect sock, but they’re simple, the largest only taking a spread in the print copy of the book. There are blanks to write down your own personal measurements, as well as samples of each chart to help guide you. I intend to make a chart for each of the people I knit socks for on a regular basis so I have their shapes and measurements on hand (after I perfect my own sock, of course).
In her preface, Smith promises, “By building on the sock knitting skills you already have, we’ll break it all down, build it back up, and end up with socks that fit!” She delivers and then some.