Just under a year ago I had the pleasure of attending Sock Summit (can't wait to go to the next one) and I was bitten by a bug while I was there. A huge, gigantic bug. So big that I've still not recovered.
That's right, I can't stop knitting socks.
Sometimes they are plain ol' stocking stitch socks...
Sometimes they have fancy lace panels
And sometimes they don't.
But I have never had so much fun as I'm having with my current project. I am making the "Fancy Silk Sock" by the talented Nancy Bush.
Reasons I love this pattern and this book (Knitting Vintage Socks):
I am very interested in the history of knitting generally, so a book on Victorian socks is fantastic. I'm lucky enough to own some patterns from this period (in the form of Mrs Beeton's book and the Cassells Household books) but can I follow them?! No, I can't!! I have no idea what Berlin wool or Andalusian wool or Lustrine or Empress Knitting Silk were. Nor do I know what their modern equivalents are. Thankfully for us knitters, Nancy knows.
I love the fact that Nancy has brought back to life the patterns of some extremely talented knitters/knitwear designers, who were probably all women and whose work was unrecognised by the people of the time. By this I mean we do not know their names or anything about them. Just goes to show how highly knitting was regarded then (not). I think this book is pretty much a testament to those ladies.
I think I kind of feel a bit connected with what has gone before, which I think is something that appeals to many knitters. We know we are involved in a greater picture, a craft that has developed over many centuries, and socks in particular are such a good example of this. Anyone who saw the Sock Museum at Sock Summit knows what I mean.
This sock, from 1900, was designed for a 5-6 year old child but Nancy has reworked it for an adult. She's a genius at spotting a gem, but her clever brain to work and coming up with a fantastic pattern. Here's what she has written at the start of the pattern:
"This is another Weldon's design for a child that makes a perfect lady's sock when it is worked with slightly larger needles and twenty-first century yarn. I have followed the instructions as written through the French Heel. I've added a purl stitch at the end of the instep stitches on the foot to balance the pattern, and to do so I've adjusted the total stitch count before beginning the toe decreases. The original has the stitches drawn together to close the toe, but I prefer the look and feel of a grafted finish (as in a Flat Toe), so I have provided directions for both methods."
The original pattern apparently called for Lustrine (a silk substitute) and four steel 1.5mm (US 000) needles. Nancy has reworked it using some (utterly delicious) Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock and 2.5mm (US 1) needles.
If you would like to learn more, get yourself a copy of the book and then come on Nancy's class at Knit Camp; you won't regret either.