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Twists on Classic Patterns
made three pairs of socks from Knitting Vintage Socks and
know already that this book will be the one I turn to more
often than any other sock book. Bush has taken old patterns
from Weldon's Practical Needlework, checked them for errors,
updated the gauges for modern needles and yarns, and created
a wonderful resource for sock knitters and needlework
The book begins with a brief essay on Weldon's, a very popular
monthly needlework magazine published at the turn of the
last century. Bush also includes information about the general
history of knitting, and stockings and socks in particular.
For knitters interested in history, Bush discusses the evolution
of knitting patterns and gauges during the nineteenth century.
She will quote an extensive passage from Weldon's (say on
how to make a gusset) and then follow it with her explication
One of the best things about Knitting Vintage Socks is the
section on heels and toes. Bush covers four different heels
and six different toes. For each, she explains the characteristics
and offers detailed instructions. That way, if the reader
wants to make a ribbed sock with a welsh heel and a french
toe, all that's necessary is to mix and match to make a
unique sock. Each of the actual sock patterns tells how
long to make the leg before starting the heel and the foot
before starting the toe, allowing the knitter to adapt any
sock pattern as desired.
Before getting into the fancier socks, Bush begins with
four basic sock patterns, letting the knitter feel comfortable
with those before moving on to more complicated socks. In
addition to the basics, there are 8 patterns for men, 10
for women, and 2 for babies. There's enough variety in the
patterns to keep the sock knitter occupied for years--shaped
calves, different ribbings and stitch patterns, creative
stripes, intarsia, lace, clocking, graphs, and more.
Each reproduction sock is beautifully photographed, and
Bush provides the original engraving from Weldon's to let
the reader compare. She likewise mentions date of publication
and the yarn and needles specified in the original. A few
notes introduce each pattern with comments on any changes
and special features. As one would expect with any pattern,
Bush provides a recommended yarn, needle size, any notions,
yardage requirement, finished size, and a gauge.
True sticklers for historical accuracy may want to know
that Bush has converted many children's socks into women's
sizes by substituting larger needles and modern yarns. Rather
than knitting with what must have been a fine thread on
00000 needles, Bush chooses a sock-weight yarn and size
0. On the plus side, the book is filled with photographs
of antique knitting tools: a bell gauge, ivory needles,
sock stretchers, needle cases, and more.
Across the bottom of many pages runs an interesting timeline
of events that happened during the dates of Weldon's publication,
letting the knitter's imagination take hold. If you are
knitting an 1898 sock, x-rays have been invented, but aspirin
has not. The facts on the timeline are the same throughout,
but an arrow points to the relevant date.
I have knitted two of the patterns and used Bush's opening
notes to adapt a third. I found her instructions very easy
to follow and the end results were beautiful. Each part
of the sock (leg, heel, gussets, foot, and toe) gets its
own section heading, and any special stitch patterns are
clearly spelled out in text boxes. It's easy to see why
Bush's books are so popular and I give this one my heartiest
recommendation. I look forward to spending more time with
submitted, Deborah Hyland
this book from Amazon.com
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