Book Report, Special Holiday Gift Edition: Custom Socks

Hi, guys! I hope you are all doing well! I was just pondering how much selfless crafting I can get done before the holidays arrive when I realized that I hadn’t reviewed this book yet! The timing seems perfect to talk about a book that makes gift giving easier, so here goes. πŸ™‚

Custom Socks book review | Ginger Makes

Custom Socks: Knit to Fit Your Feet by Kate Atherley (Amazon affiliate link here; Indiebound here) is by far the knitting book I’ve used most in my life. I asked for it for my birthday last year, so I’ve had it for just over a year, and I’ve used it to make six pairs of socks for other people (with a seventh pair on my needles right now).

Custom Socks book review | Ginger Makes

Marpleridge

The book contains 14 patterns, including a basic toe-up sock, a top-down sock, and a ribbed sock. The not-so-basic sock patterns are all really lovely and cool, and Kate includes instructions for knitting each pattern both top-down and toe-up, so you can pick your favorite (or even knit one each way!). So far I’ve made the basic ribbed socks three times (in three different sizes, for three different people), the plain top down socks twice, and the Marpleridge socks once. I want to try each one of the other patterns in the book, but particularly Carpita, Harcourt, and Man of Aran.

Custom Socks book review | Ginger Makes

Carpita

While I like the patterns in the book, its real genius is that it has really simplified making socks in any size with any yarn. The book includes a BOATLOAD of charts that makes this easy- for example, if you know the finished circumference of the sock that you’d like to make, you can look up exactly how many stitches to cast on, how many heel stitches to separate out and how many heel rows to knit, how many stitches to for your heel turn and gussets, and the when and how many toe stitches to decrease depending on the gauge of your yarn. She includes crunches these numbers for sock circumferences from 5″ to 10.5″, at gauges from 4 stitches per inch to 9. Could you sit down and crunch these numbers yourself? Yes, maybe, and no, depending on how advanced your knitting skills are and how good at math you are. As a so-so knitter and a terrible mathematician, I am glad to be able to refer to the charts! You just jot down all the numbers that you need and plug them into the patterns in the book- it’s easy as can be!

Custom Socks book review | Ginger Makes

There are lots of tips for solving sock problems (ha! sock problems! are those really even problems?) that go way over my head, for example, how to do special heel flap decreases to keep your gusset stitches even when you’re knitting colorwork. I’m not sure if I would even know when to use this! But the nice thing about this book is that it offers lots to more advanced knitters, which is not something that every book can do. I also appreciate that Kate includes an entire chapter on fitting what she calls “non-average” feet. This is in-depth knowledge that isn’t easily available online, including things like what to do if your foot circumference is really different from your ankle/leg circumference, and how to account for things like diabetes and other special medical needs. This feels really inclusive and helpful– after all, isn’t it more likely that someone with “non-average” feet might be making their own socks?

Custom Socks book review | Ginger Makes

My favorite use for this book, though, is for gift giving. Kate includes charts that give the average foot and sock circumference, as well as the average foot and finished sock length, for each shoe size (men’s, women’s, and even children’s). So I’ve been able to successfully make socks that fit really well for my dad, my sisters, my brother-in-law, my mom, and Blake, just by plugging their shoe sizes into the chart in this book. The first pair that I made using this technique was a pair of basic ribbed socks for my dad… I held my breath when he tried them on, but they fit like a glove sock! I’ve also used these charts to adapt other sock patterns for gift giving, too- I just altered the stitch and row counts that were included in whatever pattern I was using to match the numbers from the book. This is particularly helpful for simple patterns that only give you one size and just say “knit to desired length” or something like that. I haven’t had a pair not fit the recipient really well yet!

Custom Socks book review | Ginger Makes

All in all, I love this book, if that isn’t clear, and think it would be a great addition to your personal or neighborhood library. It’s made me much more confident that the socks I knit for other people will fit, and as a result, be worn! Now, tell me, are you doing any holiday knitting? What do you like to knit for other people? Any favorite items or patterns? Do tell!

Custom Socks book review | Ginger Makes

Harcourt

19 responses

  1. This book sounds great! Thanks for sharing your review. I just finished my second pair of socks and am already planning my third (Hermione’s Everyday, I think!). I’m mostly a selfish knitter, but that’s partly because I’m not confident that I can make something that will fit another person. It sounds like this book is the perfect fix for that, though!

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  2. This book sounds amazing! I’ve actually managed to procure several skeins of sock yarn that are wool-free (yay!), but keep chickening out of actually knitting a pair precisely because of my oddball feet. I’m that person that has extra-wide feet but with fairly normal heels and calves, and finding shoes and socks that fit me well has been the lifelong bane of my fashion existence! So I dread the thought of spending as long as it takes me to knit anything, just to have it not fit. Just added this book to my wishlist. πŸ™‚

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  3. This book looks terrific! I’m just getting into sock knitting myself, and I have you to thank – I loved the socks you wrote about a while back. I’ve made one plain pair, and am on my first pair of monkey socks. Maybe I’ll see if my bro can get me this for Christmas. Thanks for the review xx

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  4. I wish I was a better knitter…sigh. Hand knit anything is the best. This book looks beautiful…maybe a gift for someone on my list. πŸ™‚

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  5. Thanks for sharing your review of this book! I’m new to knitting but am sock-obsessed, which is now spilling over into wanting to knit them for the few knit-worthy people in my life. This book sounds like a great way to achieve that without forcing friends to let me take a tape measure to their feet (which ruins the surprise)!

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  6. Very cool! I especially like the idea of charts to help figure out the math, and more customized sizes than just “medium” etc. I’ve yet to knit socks for anyone else on purpose … although I do knit other people other things, and I’ve given away socks that didn’t fit me but fit someone near me!
    PS I’m still sort of in awe of your finishing a pair of socks in a month. I used to knit a ton when traveling, and basically not at any other time. Now that we’re home more (hooray!), I think I need to figure out some new times to fit in a little knitting. How do you do it?

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    • I have a long subway commute so I get all my sock knitting done on the train! I keep a project in my bag, and I can pull it out whenever I’m waiting around or something. I try to work on a bigger knitting project on weekend evenings, but I’m making slow progress with that because my homework and extra work load has been too heavy. But maybe if you make it a thing that you do, say, Saturday evenings, or 15 minutes in the morning or something you’ll find that it’s a bit of a ritual for you?

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      • Speaking of late replies … yes, I actually try to knit a little bit every day before bed, but it doesn’t always happen. It’s something I started when I learned to spin, and I have to be honest that I love the process of spinning more than the process of knitting, so I’m much less likely to skip it if I’m spinning. But if I don’t do something with the yarn, what’s the point of spinning it? My current knitting isn’t handspun, but it is a sweater I will absolutely love to have finished. Still that doesn’t seem to be enough motivation to pick it up … I’m trying to think of pockets of time to work on it, take it with me when I might have to wait (although it’s big enough to need its own bag), and embrace the fact of doing just a few sleeve rows at a time. A few rows is still progress!

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  7. As a sock knitter who really sticks to a simple vanilla sock pattern this is a super resource to branch out a little. Thanks for the great review…I’ve added it to my Christmas list! I need a pair of those Carpita socks in my life!

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  8. Oh man you must love people A LOT to make them socks. I haven’t even gotten up the courage to do them for myself yet (although of course I already have yarn stashed.) I do like more books for knitting though!

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