Book first - Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel - Top down, raglan sleeve sweaters/shrugs/blouses.
The instructions for calculating top-down sweaters is just about 2 pages long, if that's enough for you, great, if you want more details and more styles, go for Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top at Schoolhouse Press or for Jacqueline Fee's Sweater Workshop (this book is mainly raglan sleeve style sweaters). Fitted Knits has a lot of different sweaters, but if raglan's don't work for you, this probably isn't the book for you. Some of the pictures are hard to tell what the sweater really looks like - there's a ballerina wrap with 2 pictures. One's at the waistline and just shows the wrap's ties and the other showed part of the front (neckedge to the arm). The arm looked nice. No idea what the sweater itself looks like though.
Socks - still working slowly on my gated vine socks. I don't mind, that just means dh isn't at the doctor's office waiting room.
There was a discussion in yesterday's Socknitter's yahoo group about toe-up toes and gauge. When I make socks for myself, I don't bother figuring out the gauge first. I've done enough socks for myself that I know for fingering weight yarn, size 0 usually works well. Sometimes after I've done 10-15 rows I know size 0 isn't the right size so I rip out, switch needles, and start over. Big deal. Sometimes it takes longer. If I'm not in the mood to experiment with a different toe, I just cast on for my usual 'wide toe' from Priscilla Gibson Roberts but if it's a self-patterning yarn, after the toe is done, if I don't like the way the pattern worked up, I'll rip it out and start experimenting with another toe (or I use another yarn, there's a reason I have stash yarn.) It's not a big deal. I have a mental list - and a lot of sock pattern books - of different toes. But either way, I don't figure out the gauge beforehand.
Maybe the fact that I don't mind ripping out knitting - even if it is a half-knit sock foot - is the difference. A few other people in the discussion sounded like gauge would prevent the need to rip. If you don't like to rip, that makes sense. On the other hand, the Hawaii socks I finished not too long ago were knit & ripped & knit & frogged lord knows how many times. None of the ripping was because of gauge.
If you don't mind ripping out, then cast-on and go knowing that after 3-4" you may decide to rip out and have nothing to show for the time. But that's ok. I don't have to justify how much or how little progress I've made after knitting for 3 hours.