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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Knitting Vintage Socks

Knitting from modernized versions of Victorian sock patterns might not sound all that exciting, but a classic design can be really cool with the right yarn. There are a lot of people on Ravelry knitting socks from Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks (several Ravelers seem to be knitting their way through it, pattern by pattern), and it’s really neat to see a funky hand-dyed yarn paired with a pattern that otherwise might seem a little staid. I didn’t use a hand-dyed yarn, but this shade of fuchsia is funky enough, don’t you think?

Pattern: Gentleman’s Socks in Lozenge Pattern (CO 60 stitches for a ladies’ size 8 1/2)
Yarn: Regia 4-Ply in kardinal
Needle: 1 1/2 (more like a #1…I stuck one of my Brittany wood double-points in a needle gauge, and it fit in the #1 hole)
Raveled here.

I bought several balls of Regia and Jawoll Superwash (both hard-wearing German sock yarns, for the uninitiated) at a craft store in Berlin, and when I showed Kelly my bag o’ yarn booty, she drooled over the two balls of fuschia and asked if I could make her a pair. She was really excited to get them. They are funky-lawyerly, just like her.

And here’s my Mamacita’s Mother’s Day gift (also from the Berlin booty, photo taken just before she and my stepdad returned from Florida…the back lawn was a bit of a jungle):

Pattern: Gentleman’s Shooting Stockings with Fluted Pattern (CO 66 stitches for a ladies’ size 9 1/2)
Yarn: Lang Jawoll Superwash, 1.5 skeins of petrol
Needle: 1 1/2 (same deal…this yarn stained my Brittany double-points, plus the fifth needle snapped in transit. Fortunately they’ve got a five-year guarantee!)
Raveled here. One of my favorite sock FOs, partly because the color is just so rich. Must buy more online.

For the third project, I’m using yarn I picked up from This is Knit last spring. I tried casting on a couple of different sock patterns over the past year, but each time I decided I didn’t enjoy the stitch pattern enough to see it through. This one is pretty boring (basically a rectangular checkerboard), but I know I’ll get a lot of wear out of these, and that’s enough to keep me knitting them.

Pattern: Gentleman’s Fancy Sock (CO 66 stitches for a ladies’ size 10, decreased to 64)
Yarn: Araucania Ranco Solid (colorway 483), 1 skein
Needle: #1 (new Hiya-Hiyas I picked up at Woolbearers)
Raveled here.

The lesson I’ve learned with these socks has to do with the yarn. I had heard (after I balled this skein) that you shouldn’t wind yarn until you’re ready to cast on; otherwise the yarn loses its elasticity. I now know that this is true. The knitted fabric still has some stretch to it, but probably not as much as if I’d waited to ball it up. Oops.

I love the look of the purl ridge used in the Lozenge sock pattern above–I used it on my St. Paddy’s Day socks, and on these socks with a 3×3 rib as well. Of course, I realized midway through that 66 stitches wouldn’t jive with the P2, K2 / P2, K2 pattern (if the round starts with P2, it has to end with K2, and with 66 it ends in P2), so I decreased to 64 (usually you’re supposed to increase after the ribbing so it stays snug, but I wasn’t about to frog this yarn again).

Anyway, Knitted Vintage Socks is an awesome book. Excepting a few lacy ones, most of the patterns are suitable for anyone; it’s just a matter of casting on an appropriate number of stitches. Definitely one of the most useful books in my pattern library.

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.