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Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
Kissing Birdies! Just the cutest book cover, ever, really.

Lara's Library (Sort Of): Around the World in Knitted Socks: 26 Inspired Designs

Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
Delft Blue Socks (inspired by The Netherlands) - so lovely.

Stephanie Van Der Linden has written a fantastic book, with something to please almost anybody.

It's an Interweave Press book, so, naturally, the page design, charts and photography are all wonderful. It's available from Interweave both as a paper book (24.95, as of this writing) and as an ebook (19.95, as of this writing). I'm writing this review from an ebook edition I downloaded from my library.

A pithy foreword sets the tone of Stephanie's writing style, which is bright and cheerful. If a translator weren't listed on the copyright page, I wouldn't be able to tell that Van Der Linden's original version of this book was published in German.

Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
A peacock made of beads! What is not to love?

She notes that European socks are traditionally knit from the top to the toe, while in Turkey and the Baltic states, socks are usually knit from the toe up.

The 26 patterns are all clearly marked with the country that inspired them, which range from England to Japan.

The patterns begin without a lot of preamble, but appear to be complete and clearly-written.

Sizes, and all measurements, are given in both U.S. sizes and European sizes/measurements. That's a nice touch, and I guess I could have expected it, but I still admire the thoroughness. I'm sure that metric-measuring knitters are often frustrated by a lack of inclusion.

Double-pointed needles are listed as the tools of choice, and the instructions in the book simplify things a great deal by describing shaping using the positions of the stitches relative to their needles. With some thought and maybe a few stitch markers, a knitter could adapt these instructions to any needle configuration.

Most of the socks are knit from the top down, but there are some that use more unusual constructions, as well. I was a little disappointed that none of the designs are truly toe-up.

Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
Charts are clear and easy-to-read. Printing was disabled in the edition I used, so I don't know what the charts look like, printed out.

"Nordic Inspiration" (Sweden), and "Traditional Costume" (Austria) feature sock feet that begin with a provisional cast-on, and are worked through the foot, the heel and the top of the leg. The provisional cast-on stitches are then picked up, and decreases are worked to form the toe.

"Hub of Fashion," marked "Italy" is worked from side-to-side with a lovely pattern that shows off self-striping yarns.

"Classic Kilim," (Turkey) are worked from the cuff-down, but feature lovely colorwork and afterthought heels.

Lara Neel - The Journal Gazette
At this point, I've become a collector of sock-knitting diagrams. This is a very nice one.

"In the Highlands," (Scotland) are argyles worked using short-rows, to avoid seams.

Colorwork and embellishment are really the stars of this show, in my opinion. Embroidery, beads, and, of course, colorwork charts create truly lovely socks.

Overall, a fun book with a lot of variety, and a whole lot of color.

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