Knitting Books: Folk Socks, by Nancy Bush

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More than just a book of patterns, Folk Socks opens with a useful series of concise articles on the history of stockings, beginning with ancient examples made with cloth or leather, the transition to naalbinding and then knitting, the growth of the stocking as fashion accessory, and the transition from hand to machine production. There are also brief sections on knitting tools and knitted stocking traditions in countries throughout Europe. This is one of the best short accounts I’ve seen. Nancy Bush knows her stuff and how to present info in an interesting way. She also provides a good tutorial of the “anatomy” of socks and the various techniques used to knit the individual parts, including “clock” designs.

The rest of the volume contains patterns designed to represent traditional socks/stockings from 18 different countries. These patterns are beautiful, but many are quite complex, requiring sophisticated knitting skills and experience. I would be able to make most of them, and if planning to use them for display purposes, might give them a try. All but a few would be very time consuming to produce, however, and nice as they are to admire, I’d never wear them. I enjoyed reading Folk Socks, and have referred back to it many times in my work as amateur textile historian.

An updated edition of this book is now available.