Book Review: Knitting Vintage Socks

I recently bought Nancy Bush’s book, Knitting Vintage Socks. I was looking for good patterns for men’s socks and realised that several of the patterns I had added to my Ravelry queue were all in this same book. I decided that it was obviously my destiny to own this book and ordered it.

The book contains a selection of 19th century knitting patterns updated, where needed, for modern yarn, needles and jargon. There is a section on the history of the periodical that the patterns were originally published in and a section on how the author went about updating the patterns. Given my work with Project Gutenberg and, more especially, my interest in their Craft bookshelf, I found these sections just as interesting as the patterns themselves.

Not that the patterns need much by way of support. There are 20 patterns; a mixture of ladies and gents. I have only made the Gentleman’s Fancy Sock pattern so far (see this post) but I will definitely be making more of these. The patterns are clearly written, with charts where appropriate. The book itself is spiral bound, which is very handy.

There are only two things that I would change about this book. The patterns are only given in one size, which may not be a problem for more experienced sock knitters, but as a new sock knitter I was relieved that the pattern I wanted to make was given in the size I wanted to knit! I realise that the original patterns would only have been published in one size and that it would have taken a lot more time and effort to provide the patterns in various sizes but it would really have added to the value of this book.

My other complaint is that the patterns have been published under their original names, which means it is not immediately clear what size the updated pattern is intended for. There is at least one pattern that has been sized as a ladies sock using modern yarn and needles but was originally published as a child’s pattern, with “child” in the name. Since only the name is listed in the Table of Contents, it is unclear how a reader is supposed to know that this is actually a ladies sock without reading the whole book.

These are reasonably minor complaints though and I can highly recommend this book to anyone looking for traditional or gents sock patterns.

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