Wednesday, September 23, 2009

REVIEW: The Joy of Sox

The Joy of Sox
by Linda Kopp
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Lark Books (October 6, 2009)


If you're totally obsessed with knitting socks and think that SOX ROCK, then The Joy of Sox: 30+ Must-Knit Designs is for you! Linda Kopp has brought together 28 amazing designers who put their best foot forward with beyond-the-basic sock patterns that include some wonderful examples of cable, lace and colorwork.

The Joy of Sox combines patterns with fun stories, trivia and useful tips straight from the designers themselves - all in a very flirtatiously, fresh package. Crazy Aunt Purl even shares her first time sock knitting experience.

Aimed at the experienced sock knitter, The Joy of Sox delivers on its name. With their tantalizing cables, intricate lacework, and intriguing color work, the patterns represent the very best in sock design. Some patterns of note include:

~ Snow Bunny, a pair of heart motif knee-highs in hot pink and black
~ Last of the Red Hot Lovers, with a heart cable running up the front
~ Breakfast in Bed, a gorgeous example of colorwork, complete with lovebirds
~ Chick Flick, a delicate lily stitch is paired with a saucy scallop for a pair of stunning lace socks

The Joy of Sox is a hardcover book with spiral binding, making it easy to follow along on a page while knitting. The photography throughout is beautiful and really plays up the flirty innuendo theme. If you are a sock-knitta, you will definitely want to add this book to your shelf!

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the designers from The Joy of Sox, Gina House. Gina, whom I'm also proud to call a friend, has 2 beautiful designs featured in the book; A Roll in the Hay and Rock-a-Bye.

Lapdog Creations: First off, let me start by saying congratulations for having not one, but two of your patterns included in The Joy of Sox! You've published several patterns in the past, but these were the first to be included in a book - how does that feel? What has the experience been like for you?

Gina: The experience was wonderful! It was a lot more work than I thought it would be (lots of editing and adding/subtracting details) and it required a lot of patience, which is (sadly) not my strong suit. LOL! I wrote the patterns almost 2 years ago and had to wait a year and a half for the book to come out, so it has been a long journey. It's truly been worth it, though. I mean, seeing The Joy of Sox on the shelves and flipping through the book to see my patterns is amazing! And, it's not even MY book - it's just filled with so many very talented designers that I'm extremely proud and honored to be part of it all.

Lapdog Creations: When did you first start knitting socks and what was your first sock experience like? Did you become a sock addict right away?

Gina: I first started knitting socks about 5 1/2 years ago. I've been knitting for 7 years (mostly scarves and little, easy knits) and then found the Barnes & Noble knitting group on They were very welcoming and also really inspiring! They were "veteran knitters" and I was a beginner knitter at the time. They told me about "real yarn stores" (not just craft stores where you could get yarn) and gave me the confidence to start knitting socks.

I'm not sure you could say that I became a sock addict right away. I started with toe-up socks and that probably wasn't the best idea. I had NO idea how to do short rows at the time and was just learning how to knit in the round on DPNs. So, it was a terribly frustrating experience at the time. Once I got it, I was so excited that I'd knit something practical and, more importantly, the sock fit my foot! Since then, I've knit many, many socks and I think I enjoy designing them more than knitting them. If it were up to me, I think I might just design socks and have a drawer full of singles! But, luckily, I'm a bit obsessive and that makes me feel like I ought to finish the pair. So, I do.

Lapdog Creations: What is your preferred sock method - DPNs; Circs; Magic Loop; One or Two at a time - and why?

Gina: I started off knitting in the round with DPNs, progressed onto 2 Circs (love that Cat Bordhi!) and now I'm using the Magic Loop method. I don't think I'm really set on any particular method, though I must say that the Magic Loop is pretty convenient -especially since you truly only need 1 needle to make socks, hats, mittens, sweaters, etc. But, I like to switch things up now and then. DPNs are better in some situations and 2 Circs also have their place. So... I'm flexible!

Lapdog Creations (special thanks to Chan for the question): How do you pair yarn and pattern? Do you pick up a skein of yarn and then design a pattern, or start a design first?

Gina: Well, that's tricky. Sometimes, I have a super idea in mind for a stitch pattern and a particular yarn and then it totally doesn't work out. And I'm disappointed. Other times, something that I don't really think will work out comes out AMAZING! There's a lot of trial and error in designing. And it really takes more time than people think. It seems like you can just pick out a stitch pattern, some yarn and grab your needles...and then you magically have a great design. But it, sadly, doesn't work that way. I've had these ideas in my head that still won't translate into workable patterns (at least not yet) and it's a slow process.

Writing out exactly how to knit something is also WAY more tedious than you'd think, too. At times, I've thought my finished pattern was perfect and went over it several times on my own and with my hubby (a non-knitter) and I've had friends find mistake after mistake.... little things, but still something. I might leave something out or add something in or the count may not be right. There's a LOT of ways to mess things up. And, surprisingly, sometimes knitters are brutal when a pattern that you've designed has errors! They're ready to burn you at the stake for writing a "ssk" instead of a "k2tog"! It's a little scary! I've learned to do my best in a pattern, get it edited by a number of people and hope for the best. If I find an error (or someone else does), I try my best to fix the error and report the errata as soon as I can. Designers are only human, too! But, I love designing and I only wish I had more time to do it.

Lapdog Creations: If you had to give advice to someone who has never knit socks before, what would be your key points?

Gina: Advice...hmmm... Well, first I would say to make sure that the pattern you are knitting is something in your skill range. Something a little bit more difficult shouldn't be too bad, but sometimes brand new sock knitters will try a very difficult pattern and become so frustrated that they won't try knitting socks for a LONG time. Which is bad! If there's something you really want to try and it IS out of your experience level, then I'd recommend taking a class where you can get help, but still be able to finish it.

Also, make sure to do a gauge swatch. So many people scoff at this or make fun of it, but then when their finished socks are too tight, too loose or won't stay on their feet, they start yelling at how much they hate the pattern or the yarn. If you take the time to knit up a swatch with the yarn, needles and pattern you want to use, it's SO worth it and you'll be happy you took that extra half hour or so to check. And you'll have socks that will last for a long time - and ones you enjoy!

Lastly, for first time/beginner sock knitters, I recommend a very easy pattern (say 2x2 rib for the cuff, stockinette for the leg and foot and simple toe/heel) and either DK or worsted weight yarn. These won't be socks that you can wear in your shoes (well, clogs maybe), but you will be able to knit the pair up quickly, get a real sense of how the sock is constructed and have a sense of accomplishment and confidence to start on a more advanced pattern next time.

Lapdog Creations: Tell us - does sock yarn count as stash?!?!?

Gina: LOL! Yes, I do count sock yarn as stash. At one time, I bought sock yarn like it was candy (in many colors and fibers) because it was inexpensive, an easy project to carry around and, yes, easy to hide from my hubby if needed ;-)

Now that I've got so much yarn (a walk-in closet full, which I'm trying to reduce!), I'm trying to be more selective in what I buy... and, with my employee discount at the yarn store (Lapdog's sidenote: Gina also works at The Yarn & Fiber, my favorite LYS!), it's even more tempting to just buy everything.

Right now, my favorite sock yarns are: Sereknity, Ivy Brambles, Socks That Rock, Mountain Colors Bearfoot, Katia Mississipppi 3, Regia and Trekking. I have others that I've bought recently, but haven't tried out yet.

Lapdog Creations: Anything you would like to add about the book, your two patterns, the yarn you used or anything else related to sock knitting?

Gina: Let's see... Well, on the SleepyHeads group on Ravelry, we'll be starting a Joy of Sox Knit-A-Long focusing on my two patterns, A Roll in the Hay and Rock-a-Bye. If anyone would like to join in, please join the group and begin with us the first week in October.

I also want to add that, even if my sock designs weren't in the book, I'd love this book. I love the hardcover/spiral binding, the amount of photos for each sock (with several different views and positions of the socks), the sexy innuendo, the tips and hints scattered throughout the book to help make knitting the socks more enjoyable and the amazing quality of the designs that are included. If I had to have only one sock book, this is the one I'd keep. Really! ;-)

Thank you Gina for the wonderful interview! Be sure to check out more of Gina's wonderful patterns on Ravelry or via her own blog and don't forget to snag yourself a copy of The Joy of Sox!

*Please note that Gina has posted errata for A Roll in The Hay here.


SissySees said...

Love the personal touches here, especially getting my own question answered! I need another knitting book, especially a sock book, like a hole in the head, but...

Bubblesknits said...

Ooooh....great review! I've been sitting on the fence about getting this one (because I have SO MANY sock patterns and books already), but you just tipped me over the edge. :-) 'Sides, I do have an Amazon GC that I haven't used yet. heehee

moevans said...

I am knitting the Rock a Bye socks now and am planning on the Roll in the Hay next. I really like this book!

gMarie said...

Great review Nic. Since you aren't giving a copy away - maybe I'll ask for it for my birthday. g

Gina House said...

Nic, thank you so much for doing this interview!! I'm so excited that you shared this with everyone and I owe you one!

Hugs! Gina ; )

melly~ said...

wow! what a great interview! i think i may need this book!

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