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.
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