Around the World in Knitted Socks: 26 Inspired Designs Stephanie van der Linden. 2010 Interweave Press.
If you have been part of the online knitting world in the last few years, you would know that knitted socks are firmly back in favour. There are thousands of patterns for socks, tonnes and tonnes of big brand, boutique and hand dyed sock yarns in all kinds of fibres, and stacks and stacks of books about sock knitting. As with any popular trend, some books will be great, some will be very ho hum, and most will be somewhere in between. Stephanie ven der Linden’s book Around The World In Knitted Socks is an exceptional book.
First published in German, and recently published by Interweave Press, this book is full of patterns like I had never seen before. I am a fairly new knitter, and most of my online resources, eg Ravelry, are sourced from the USA and other English speaking western countries, and most of the patterns for socks that I love are based on a pretty standard model of cuff-down or toe-up, short row heels or heel flaps, a few reliable toe methods, and all kinds of embellishments. I am completely excited to find a sock book that is based on European sock design, and seems to come at the sock design process from a very different direction. Sure, at its most simple, a sock is a tube for keeping feet warm, but it is a joy to see how gussets, toes and heels can be used as an integrated part of the design, instead of necessary shaping in an otherwise decorative sock.
Stephanie ven der Linden takes the reader on a journey abroad, presenting 26 original sock projects, each influenced by design elements particular to different countries and regions, such as travelling and twisted stitches from German Alpine regions, stranded knitting influences from areas such as Latvia, Estonia, and the Netherlands, lace styles inspired by Spain, Austria and Belgium, exquisite patterning from Morocco and Turkey, Scottish Argyle, Irish Aran and high fashion from Italy.
Apart from having my head stretched in the best kind of way with the patterns and design influences, I think that this is a genuinely good book. Each project is very well photographed, and the instructions are clear, and is broken down into cuff, leg, heel, foot, toe and finishing, with clear charts for colourwork and patterned stitch work. Each project is designed for use with a fairly standard sock yarn (Regia), which makes yarn substitution easy. The techniques section at the end of the book is fantastic, and the instructions for Kitchener Stitch has made sense to me like no other instructions ever have. There are photographed instructions on short-row heels, decreases, twisted and travelling stitches, two coloured stranded knitting, Kitchener stitch, knitting with beads, and embellishing.
I have already cast on Nordic Inspiration (Sweden) [the top image and it also graces the book cover], and can’t wait to improve my colourwork, and then would love to make Scent of Lavender (France) [image below], Vacation in the Mountains (Switzerland), Classic Kilim (Turkey) [image below], and Brussels Lace (Belgium).
About the reviewer: Kate is a busy mother of four with many craft projects on the go, including, but not limited to, crochet, knitting, sewing, dyeing, paper making, spinning, felting and bookbinding. Kate has challenges in the areas of finishing things, saying no and craft supplies storage. She also has a very very patient and tolerant husband. She is currently home with sick children and knitting her heart out!