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Mama, wife, knitter, blogger, spinner, wannabe something or other. That's enough, right?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Book Review #8: Big Foot Knits by Andi Smith

I eluded to my upcoming book review in my Stitches Midwest post and I shall not disappoint :)

The book(s) in question are books that I have purchased (or someone bought me for a Christmas and/or birthday present) for my own fibery library. I have been given no money or other non-monetary forms of payment for my book reviews. The reviews are based on my own experience(s) and opinion(s) and may not necessarily coincide with the thoughts and opinions of other fiber enthusiasts (though they certainly may). I may also throw in some other fun information, if I can find it or if I know of any. We'll see where we end up...

Disclaimer. There it is.

Now, on to the book. Today's book is Big Foot Knits by Andi Smith.

Photo from my own camera (and taken from the aforementioned blog post)

The Basics:
Author: Andi Smith (website here)
Publisher: Cooperative Press, 2013
Softcover: 132 pages
Language: English
Cover Price: $16.95

I will be the first to admit that I have difficulties with knitting socks. Not that I can't read the patterns or anything like that. No, the problem I have is that I often have trouble finding socks that fit in the end. I prefer to use US #1 needles for my socks and if said sock doesn't have any stretch to it (i.e., no ribbing), the "standard" sock size is not going to work for me (64 stitches). I found this out the hard way when I had to completely frog and restart my Vanilla Socks (Round 2). I also further lamented it when I had to frog and restart my Eat Your Monkey Socks (the short version of that "saga" can be found here). So, "normal" socks don't work for me.....which is probably why I've been busy designing my own and testing out things that work for me.

While I was at Stitches Midwest recently, I got talking to the purveyor of Cephalopod Yarns, Sarah, and my love of knitting socks...but difficulty in finding patterns that worked with my calf, ankle, and foot shaping. She told me I needed to go to the next "booth" (really, they were basically sharing a booth)...there was a book over there that may interest me and my plight. So, I wandered over to what turned out to be the Cooperative Press booth. I was asked if I needed any help by a lovely woman with what I suspected was some sort of English accent. Anyway, I told her that Sarah had sent me over in search of a sock book designed for women that don't fit the "normal" size. She got a huge grin on her face, introduced herself to me as the author of said book, picked one up, I took a quick flip through and said, "yep, this is exactly what I need." We talked a bit about the need for things like this and I told her I was dabbling in designs myself because of that reason. She signed my book:

My signed copy :)

...and I was on my way.

Unfortunately, this book was placed into one of the boxes that I shipped so I had to wait until earlier this week for the box to show up with the book I hadn't had much time to delve into the book. Luckily, I did have some time this week to look at the book.

I knew this book was for me when, while reading the foreward by Jillian Moreno (one of the co-authors of Big Girl Knits), she used this phrase, "In this book, Andi Smith calls bullshit on the average sock pattern."

Yeah. That's something I would say.

Anyway, on to the book :)

The first chapter talks about socks, in a very broad sense. Why we should continue to measure our feet, why our shoes no longer fit correctly (hint: it's because our feet can grow up to a half size every ten years), and if a basic sock is a straight tube with shaping for the heels and toes, why can't we just make a bigger tube?

After that, the dreaded math begins. She talks about why you need to get the real measurements, not fudge the numbers, and be unhappy about it but don't cheat! And then there are the measurements themselves and she gives a hypothetical example of why you need to do all of them...and how to do them (she even gives you a blank chart to use to calculate your own). Then she goes on to talk about gauge, why we really need to do it with socks, and how to do them properly for socks.

The next few sections in chapter one are about shaping techniques, what they look like, which way they lean (if they lean), and directions for how to do them followed by cuffs, heels, and toes.

The eighth section takes all the math you've done and puts it in a handy-dandy place, two charts (one for toe-up socks and the other for cuff-down socks) and the last section is a stitch pattern swatch worksheet, a stitch pattern gauge worksheet, and a rib gauge worksheet.

The second chapter contains patterns. What sock book is complete without patterns? But this is different because it tells you how to modify them...and where the best place for modification lies! It starts out small with a basic, charted pattern, that is lined up in columns. That's where you want to try modifying patterns. It makes sense, doesn't it?

The patterns can be found on Ravelry right here. Personally, I'm thinking of Pavarti, Marama, Alcyone, and perhaps Gaia.

The last chapter is the appendix and acknowledgements (which is typical of knitting books).

Now, the million dollar question: what do I think of this book?

Seriously, this book may be the template for my future designs. I mean, I'm not going to plagiarize or anything (yeah, hi, I don't want to go to jail), but the idea of giving people tips for how to make socks fit better, like where modifications can be made, for example, yeah, I think I'm going to look into that a bit more. However, as a sock knitter, it gives me tips and tools for how to make my socks fit better based on the patterns before me. That's always helpful.

Do I wish there was more? Of course...and maybe there will be more someday. For now, I think I'm in love with this book.

Digital copies of the book are available via Ravelry and I think you can now order the physical copies from Cooperative Press. You know you want to :)


  1. I have the opposite heels are small and my socks end up too big....the only toe-up ones I did, were the only ones I had trouble with the calf fit.....but I think it was because I didn't use a great bind-off.....but I keep trying...I hope the book helps....

    1. You should try this book. It talks about different heel measurements and we do incorrectly (like follow the pattern blindly)...

  2. This sounds like a cool book. Glad someone thought of how ppl are built differently even in the foot.

  3. I want to!!! Thanks for such a great review. I am heading over to Ravelry via your link to take a look.