(still not Dave)
Dave's Stockings are finally done. Both of them! The person at hand with the closest measurements to Dave's still has larger feet and smaller calves than his---one foot significantly larger (notice the height difference of the socks as modeled). But I had the opportunity to visit Dave a few months ago and I'm sure they'll fit him well.
The cuffs are different colors because I started knitting both of them at the same time. I don't remember my gauge (I started these literally ages ago), but I knit them on size 000 needles and there were 93 stitches at the ankle. Starting at the knee two at a time, while a nice thought, was not actually a good idea. The cuffs will hide under Dave's breeches.
But it's the heel and toe I wanted to discuss today. I stuffed the sock with a skein of yarn for shape. We have here an example of the French heel, said to be particularly good for a high instep. Why? The gusset decreases come every 3 rows instead of every 2, resulting in a longer gusset and correspondingly longer arch.
The French toe (above) is wider than the standard toe because the decreases are made 6 stitches at a time instead of 4 every 2 rows. Using the grade school formula for slope, rise over run (or rows over stitches), we get a slope of 2/4 (reducing to 1/2) for the standard toe and 4/6 (or 2/3) for the French toe.
The red lines on the graph at left represent the standard toe slope of 1/2 (and corresponding -1/2). Notice how for every four squares the line moves horizontally, it moves upward two squares.
The blue lines represent the French toe slope of 2/3. Note that you'll want to start this toe later than the standard toe since it will end sooner.
Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush, pub. Interweave Press, 2005
This is an extremely useful book, one which is often seen at my knitting table even though I have never knit an entire sock from its pages. Several years ago I was in a position to buy either this book or Nancy's delightful Folk Socks. I counted up the number of heels and toes detailed in each volume, and since this book had slightly more to offer, this is the one I bought.
I wasn't sorry (although there is an updated edition of Folk Socks which is calling to me . . . )
The 24 designs in this book seem knittable, wearable, and accurate. They are all taken from the Weldon's Practical Needlework series and given in the chronological order of the patterns which inspired them. In some cases, only the yarn and stitch gauge was changed (I know I love my size 0000 dpns, but some people find their hands cramp up after using them---wonder why). Other times, more serious interpretation was called for, discerning the meaning of different phraseologies, resolving errors, and modernizing fit. We are lucky to have Nancy to glean these wonderful patterns from this series for us and give the missing gauge and yardage information.
She starts her book by giving a brief history of Weldon's, then continues by outlining her strategy for updating the techniques described in its pages. This second chapter is liberally sprinkled with quotes taken directly from Weldon's, some interesting and useful, and others most amusing.
This section also contains instructions for four different heels and six different toes, many of which I have used in my own designs. Each instruction is prefaced with a comment from Nancy concerning the number of stitches it is to be worked on (half the total ankle stitches plus one seam stitch, a number divisible by 4, 60 stitches arranged on three needles, etc.), the shape of the sock part ("strong, but not perfectly smooth," "a serpentine pattern that spirals around the tip of the foot," etc.), and sometimes even the foot type most suited to it. Happily, the book is spiral bound, which makes it that much easier to use as a reference.
While each pattern is written in a single size, the book contains patterns for socks from infants' shoe size 3-4 to men's shoe size 11-12. The patterns are clearly displayed in two columns per page, with enough yarn details to make substitution straightforward, if desired. Stitch patterns are printed alongside the pattern in colored boxes for easy reference, and charts are clearly labeled with keys. Charming sepia-toned photos and sketches as well as full-color photos of the unmodeled socks are sprinkled throughout.
There is not only an abbreviation list and illustrated glossary, but an index as well---invaluable in this type of information-rich book. Plus, a timeline runs along the bottom of the pages, with a triangle indicating the point in time when the featured design was published.
This is a marvelous book, with practical patterns for any knitter, plenty of interesting text for someone intrigued by vintage needlework, and heaps of inspiration for the designer.
Disclosure: Kangath reviewed her personal copy of Knitting Vintage Socks. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Interweave Press or Nancy Bush.
So here's the pair of Dave's stockings as they are now (or were until I worked on them a little more yesterday while waiting for my kids at various goings-on).
The different color cuffs will hide unseen under his breeches and are because I decided to try the "two socks on one circular needle" method and thought two different colors would be prudent. I chose this method for this project because I seem incapable of getting identical length socks using only a tape measure.
I now have a serious aversion to this method of sock knitting, and I think most of the blame goes to my ill-fated attempt to use it first on a project which required 18" garter cuffs on size 000 needles. I separated the socks after the grey stripe on the finished one, and it will be quite some time before I give this method a chance to redeem itself.
The socks feature giant fleurs-de-lis on the back calf, done in seed stitch with a double outline of silver, and a garter stitch crease down the leg to the heel. They will have the French Heel and Toe from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks.
The socks are taking so long to complete (I started them years ago) partly because I don't see this as a marketable pattern. They are purely a labor of love---and I know they will be appreciated!
I've just returned from a lovely excursion to my father-in-law's birthday celebration. We were there for a few days, and I got a lot of knitting done. I knit while we sat and talked . . .
. . . and I was able to knit on the ride back. (I slept on the way there!)
The project pictured above is Valerie DiPietro's Quadrille, with only half a row of bind-off left to work. I may have cheated a little on this one without realizing it, because I ended up with 10 fewer stitches than I should have. This probably happened during the waist decreases and it made the knitting just fly by! I'm not disturbed about it though---the worst that can happen is that I have more of my shirt showing in back after I tie it.
The one to the left is my own design, which I refer to as Dave's Socks because that is what they are. They have been languishing at the bottom of my knitting bag (I'm pretending to have only one knitting bag, but we all know better) but I have now nearly finished the leg of the second sock---nearly finished meaning in this case that I may in fact have finished it but I need to get out the tape measure to check.
But all this productivity is second to the wonderful visiting I did with my husband's family. Folks gathered from five states (and an iPhone) to celebrate the day. I love these guys, and even the people I was just meeting for the first time felt like old friends. I showed two of my sisters-in-law the moves for My So-Called Scarf, and Nana gave her five daughters (including me) quilted bags. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some family photos to edit!
I forgot to take my camera with me to Ithaca. Too bad, because there were several camera-worthy events that I wasn't able to chronicle. I'm sure my phone has a camera on it, but I haven't even tried to figure out how to use it and I sure don't know how to hook it up to my computer. I should really enter the 21st century one of these days.
Remember Dave's period stockings? Well, Dave and I got together in Ithaca and he actually tried on the finished one. It fits beautifully! I had been worried about the fit because
Dave was thrilled with his one stocking and can't wait for its partner. He vowed to use, appreciate, and enjoy anything I ever wanted to knit for him. It's good to have devoted friends.
One of the wonderful friends from upstate New York is Dave, with whom I studied and performed Shakespeare while I was living there, and who still performs (and has recently started writing (well, not writing Shakespeare, but writing short stories and plays)).
Four years ago I secretly determined to knit him a pair of period stockings, complete with garters. I had another friend secretly obtain measurements, and I cast on. I knit the cuffs using the two-at-a-time method, which I decided is not for me. Then I had a stroke.
I regained my ability to knit. Slowly regained my ability to knit slowly. On size 000 needles, these were never intended to be a quick project (Dave is 6'4"). But I lost heart in the project for a while, daunted by the immensity of the task.
Then I started work on them in earnest. I finished the motif on the backs of the calves and had my husband try them on. A bit tight for him. I emailed Dave himself for measurements, which turned out to match the covert figures from my friend.
Here is one being modeled by someone a little smaller than Dave. They look pretty good, if I do say so myself!
Yarn is Verve by The Unique Sheep.
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