Chrissy has recently released her book devoted to toe-up sock patterns, so let's jump right in and have a look. We start with the introduction, in which Chrissy explains how she became a convert to toe-up sock knitting, almost despite herself. Originally a cuff-down sock knitter, Chrissy was asked to design some toe-up socks, then to teach toe-up sock knitting at a LYS. She discovered that her toe-up class was significantly more popular with knitters than the traditional, cuff-down class, and before she knew it, she was knitting most of her socks the toe-up way.
Reading Toe-Up is like taking a class with Chrissy, as she shares all sorts of tips and techniques with the reader. It's this wealth of technical information that is one of the greatest strengths of Toe-Up. For example, the first chapter is called "Getting Started," and contains basic information about the tools you'll need, a comparison of the three methods of sock knitting (dpns vs. magic loop vs. two circulars -- with some explanatory photographs), a section on gauge and how it relates to the kind of fabric you'll want for your socks, a discussion of yarn choices (with attention to color & fiber choices), fit and last, a few words on revising the patterns in the book.
The technical info continues with
- Chapter Two, a discussion of cast-on methods. You'll find explanations of "Judy's Magic Cast-on," a Turkish cast-on, and a "backwards loop" cast on, again with photos to show you exactly how.
- Chapter Three discusses toes from the perspective of the toe-up knitter, giving the knitter several specific options -- Non-shaped Round Toe, Shaped Round Toe, Anatomical Round Toe, Star Toe, and Short-Row Toe --again, including illustrations, with sample worksheets to explain how the number for each toe are calculated.
- Chapter Four discusses heels from the perspective of the toe-up knitter, again laying out several options: a Short-row Heel, a Hybrid Heel (combining short-rows and slip stitches) and an Afterthought Heel (knit after the main part of the sock is complete). Again, photos are used to illustrate each version, and sample worksheets show how to calculate the numbers you'll need.
- Chapter Five is devoted to finishing, in particular, methods of binding off the socks at the top while retaining enough stretch to make the top of the sock easy to put on and take off. You'll find explanations of a Yarn-Over Bind-off, a Sewn Bind-Off, and a P2tog Bind-off with photos; in addition, you'll find a brief discussion of how to weave in ends and how to care for your finished socks.
- Chapter Six discusses what Gardiner calls "Advanced Techniques": how to read charts, how to work cables without a cable needle and, alternatively, how to use a locking stitch marker, how to convert patterns from top-down to toe-up style, and how to knit two socks at once.
The technical chapters take up over forty pages in the book, but don't worry: there's a generous selection of patterns for you to work on. The patterns are divided into two general categories: "Family Socks" and "Fancy Socks." The Family Socks section contains seven patterns, designed in a wide range of sizes so that they can be made for just about any member of the family. The patterns also use a variety of yarn weights -- chunky to fingering-- so that you can stashbust, or knit thicker socks to wear with boots or in bed or around the house. Specifically, you'll find the following patterns in the Family section: the Snuggalicious Slipper Socks (chunky weight), a Mix-and-Match Sock Recipe (sport weight), Syncopated Rib Boot Socks (worsted weight), Old School Knee Highs (DK weight), Gull Wing socks (fingering weight, using a slip-stitch pattern), Sydney (fingering weight; ruffled anklets), and the pretty Fjordland Socks (fingering weight, with a textured color pattern).
The Fancy Socks chapter contains eight patterns, featuring more complex patterning. Two of them are knit in sportweight yarn and the remainder in fingering weight. Diamond Lucy features a textural diamond pattern; The Dude Abides, named after a sweater seen in The Big Lebowski, is colorwork in chocolate and a warm red-orange multicolor yarn; Candelabra Socks uses cables to create a twining pattern; the Vortex socks, use a swirl of cables in a very pretty pattern running the length of the sock; the Great Plains socks uses a combination of eyelets, twisted stitches and smocking to show off a slightly fuzzy yarn; Spring in Oregon features lots of vertical panels of texture; Peace Lily features a floral motif; and Sakura is a cherry tree motif with complex patterning on both the instep and leg.
Finally, the last chapter contains blank worksheets corresponding to the various toe and heel styles demonstrated in Chapters Three and Four, so that the knitter can implement them in her own knitting. There is a glossary of techniques, with photographs demostrating skills like the Kitchener Stitch, provisional cast-ons, working through the back loop, and so on.
Other details about the book: it's paperback, color, approximately 160 pages. It's full of charts and worksheets; contains lots of clear photos to help with the more technical skills; the typeface and layout are clear and easy-to-read. If I had one druther, I'd like to see bigger photos of some of the sock designs, but I understand that big photos take up space, and this book is already jam-packed with technical info. I can understand trading off lots of photos for more technical information, particularly since the Internet makes posting additional photos of the designs quick and easy. (Indeed, if you search for the Toe-Up patterns on Ravelry, you'll find that Chrissy has thoughtfully posted multiple shots of each design to give you a better feel for how they look.) Interestingly, Toe-Up is self-published, but don't be freaked out by that; it's not the kind of black-and-white, devoid of style self-published books you might have found a few years ago. On-demand publishing and related developments in the industry have made it possible to produce extremely high quality books like this one, sidestepping the conventional publishing route. MSRP is $24.95, and you can order the book via Amazon through this link.
Now for the exciting part: due to Chrissy's generosity, I've got an extra copy of Toe-Up! to give away to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment indicating that you'd like the book, and I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner. You've got to leave your comment by midnight, Friday, January 29th, and I'll pick the winner on Saturday.
Thanks to Chrissy, for including GKIYH on her blog tour, and make sure you stop at Stitch Marker tomorrow, for the next stop along the tour. (You can find the complete blog tour schedule, along with other information about the book, here.)