Book Review: Sock Architecture by Lara Neel

Filed in Point of View by on December 22, 2014 2 Comments

Hello, happy knitters! Jess here, Assistant to Gwen & Kellie. Today I’m adding “Book Reviewer” to the collection of hats that I wear at 2 Sides, 2 Points HQ, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Lara Neel for, and afterward to read her new book, Sock Architecture. If you’re a sock knitter – no matter your level of experience – this book is a fascinating read. I hope you’ll enjoy my book review of Sock Architecture today.

sock architecture

A bit of my sock-knitting background for you – I’ve made just under 10 pairs of socks in my lifetime as a knitter. I’m still figuring out the techniques and types of socks that I like best, both in terms of the enjoyment of knitting them and in the way they fit on my feet and wear over time. I’m particularly excited to have this copy of Sock Architecture in my library now, because I have nearly endless combinations to try from the instructions contained therein. New heels, toes, and structures await me, and I couldn’t be more excited about it!

Though I’ve been knitting for about 5 years now, I own very few knitting books. I have purchased several over the years, but I tend to destash them or give them to friends because I find they just gather dust on my shelves. I’m pretty picky about the knitting books I actually want to keep – most of them are stitch dictionaries that will have a variety of uses for me in my knitting & designing. Sock Architecture is a book I plan to keep, because it is not just a collection of patterns but also an extremely educational volume about knitting socks, which is one of my favorite projects to make. So let that be a ringing endorsement of this book!

Now, onto the review …

I received the e-book edition of this book. I go back and forth on my preference for e-books vs. traditionally printed books for knitting, but in general I love the e-book format because it means I can take several knitting patterns with me on my tablet on the go, without having to drag a large book around along with my yarn and needles. You may not know this about Cooperative Press, the publishers of this particular book, but if you purchase a physical copy of one of their books then you get the e-book version for free! So you can have the best of both worlds, no matter your preferences.

The Book Set-up

As with other Cooperative Press books, the first few pages of the e-book edition of the book have clickable links in them; the table of contents leads you directly to the pages in each section through the use of hyper-linked page numbers, and then there’s a visual pattern index that links you directly to the patterns for those socks. You can see it here:


The book begins with an introduction to sock knitting, and the history of sock knitting from Eastern and Western perspectives. The introduction makes it clear that Lara Neel has done her homework – she read numerous volumes on sock knitting before she attempted to write her own. Curious knitters like yourselves will no doubt find some new tidbit of information in these pages that you didn’t know before – and isn’t that the point of a knitting book, outside of the patterns themselves?

The next section covers sock fit, including how to properly measure a foot (your own or someone else’s) to ensure a well-fitting sock. Ms. Neel also covers foot shapes, something that’s particularly useful in determining the type of toe and heel you plan to knit for your socks. She includes a discussion of gauge & fabric, qualities that are essential in making socks that last longer than a few wearings.

The final two sections cover top-down socks and toe-up socks in great detail, including several cast-on and bind-off methods with everything in between. The top-down section alone covers 15 heel types and six toe types. The toe-up section includes seven toe styles and nine heels. That ought to be enough to keep any knitter busy with sock knitting experiments!

The book includes informative charts, step-by-step illustrations of some of the trickier techniques, and a huge amount of background information about why you might choose one particular method over another.


The Patterns

Included in this book are 17 actual sock patterns, though the techniques presented within its pages would be easily adaptable to any other sock pattern on the market, if you’ve got even a little sock knitting experience. The patterns in the book range from basic stitches to texture and lace, so there’s something for everyone. The author includes standard sizing in her pattern instructions, but every pattern also comes with an explanation for how to work out your own custom size. This does require some math, but the way Neel explains everything makes it very user-friendly (even for someone like me, who majored in Literature). I love this added touch, because it means I can knit any of the sock patterns or styles in this book for everyone in my family, from my 5-year-old son to my husband (who wears a size 14 shoe)!

One of the things that Lara Neel encourages knitters to do in this book is to experiment. If you’re thinking about trying a new heel or toe pattern, she recommends casting on JUST the heel or the toe to get in some practice. This is a great way of knitting a useful gauge swatch, and at the same time you can try on the part of the sock that tends to be the most difficult to fit. Knitting just a heel is a fantastic idea, because it means you haven’t “wasted” the time spent knitting a whole sock just to find out you can barely cram your heels into it when it’s finished.


I haven’t had a chance to try out any of the patterns yet (perhaps I’m weird, but I don’t like to have two pairs of socks on the needles at one time and I’ve currently got a pair in progress), but I will definitely be digging in in the New Year. My preference is for toe-up socks knitted two at a time, and I plan to test out some of Lara Neel’s flap-and-gusset heels and afterthought heels first, because I tend to knit short row heels as my go-to technique and I’m interested to try something different.

Whether you’ll soon be casting on for your 100th pair of socks or you’ve never tried knitting a pair before, this book is for you! I enthusiastically recommend it to knitters of all levels, because it’s user-friendly enough to walk you through as a new knitter and yet full of details & techniques that will still be fascinating to veteran sock knitters. This is definitely one of those knitting books you’ll want to refer back to time and time again.

You can find Sock Architecture on Ravelry, Amazon, and Cooperative Press.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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