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.

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Knitting History: What are Buff Mittens?

Good question. What are buff mittens? I’ve never heard of them before, but today, Knitting Daily e-newsletter featured an article from PieceWork magazine that was published in Fall 2011. The following is quoted from that article, “Annis Holmes’s Buff Knitting: Preserving and Updating a North Country Tradition.” The North Country cited includes  New England, which increased my interest, being a lifelong native of the region.

According to author Joanna Johnson,  “In winter during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, warm, windproof, and waterproof mittens, deemed ‘buff mittens,’ were a mainstay for loggers and others laboring in the woods of the Adirondack region of New York, New England, and neighboring Canada….The term ‘buff’ may refer to the felted pile or to the undyed yarn that typically was used to make the mittens.”

Curious about the term “buff”, I checked it out in several dictionaries, but none of the definitions I found relate to mittens or even to knitting. Instead, a soft, thick leather with a napped surface, often made from buffalo skin, was known as buff. Then there were the more common meanings, such as a brownish yellow color, a polishing process, bare skin, a devotee of some particular subject or activity, or the slang for physically fit. Interestingly, American colonists in the 17th century wore a short, thick coat made of buffalo leather, called a buffcoat.

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But back to the mittens. For PieceWork’s 10th annual Historical Knitting Issue, available now, Joanna designed the child’s buff mittens seen in the photo. If you want to know how that soft fuzzy surface is made, you can order a kit, or read about it in the magazine. Basically, it involves knitting the fabric with loops on the surface, then cutting, trimming, and fulling the finished product. Sounds like the embroidery technique of Turkey work, aka Ghiordes Knot, for which there are numerous tutorials online.

More info about this project, including where to get the mitten kit, is available right over  here .

(Wonder how these mittens hold up after multiple washings and wearings. They recall to mind some dusting mitts my mother used to have.)

Three Vintage Patterns, 2 Knit, 1 Crochet

Years ago, my wonderful mother in law gave me her entire stash, years worth, of old knitting and crochet pattern leaflets and booklets. She was an awesome knitter/crocheter. She’s in a nursing home now with severe Alzheimer’s, and I truly miss her. Many of the booklets are no longer protected by copyright and have been long out of print. I’ve finally gotten around to photographing them and as of today, will be offering them at my Art Fire shop, also called Dances with Wools. I hope you’ll hop on over and check things out. These would make nice little gifts for the knitters and crocheters in your life. Now that this little project has gotten off the ground, I’ll be posting more patterns shortly.

The first three patterns are unbelievably stylish, considering that they were printed almost 50 years ago.

Buttercup Crocheted Shawl

Even the name reminds me of spring.

Simple Knitted Shrug.

I’ve made three of these thus far. The yarn originally recommended has long been out of production, but I subbed with DK weight baby yarns and have been very satisfied with the results.

Collared Crocheted Shawl

Get a head start on this one for Christmas gifts. Quick to make up with bulky weight yarn.

Click on the link above to order. Available instantly by digital download, or photocopy via  snail mail.

Knitting Tips: How to convert an image to a knitting or crochet chart

I used Arc Soft Photo Studio, but probably many other photo software programs do the same thing.

Upload photo.

Select effects from overhead toolbar. I used liquid, splash, intensity 20%. Make it blurry so you can judge what colors of yarn to use.

lamb blurred

Back to the effects tab. Select tiling, 3D grid from dropdown menu.

tiled

You can adjust the size of the grid squares to suit. Run off a copy and there’s your knitting chart.

New Knitting/Crochet Magazine

There’s a new magazine out this month by the publisher that prints Sandra. It’s called Verena Knitting and the premier issue, containing more than 50 patterns, from children to plus size, with little advertising. I think it has been published in Germany for a while now. The summer issue costs $6.99.
For those interested in checking it out online, the website is http://www.verenaknitting.com/.

Contents:

Skinny Striped tunic with a band of twisted rib pattern at the waistline.
Finished bust sizes 35, 38, 41, 44”

V deep sweater with wavy lace pattern body and striped waist and neckline
sections. Finished bust sizes 34, 37, 40, 43”

Traditional sailor stripes pullover with scoop neckline. Wide stripes on
the body and skinny stripes on the short sleeves. Finished bust sizes 35,
39, 43, 47”

Structured jacket with vertical cables and tailored lapels. Finished bust
sizes 34, 38, 42, 46”

20’s, 30’s look summer top with ribs and cable accents. Also has
contrasting color accent at the waist. Finished bust sizes 36, 40, 42, 45”

Diamond pattern sleevless top with yarn over accents and scopped neckline.
Finished bust sizes 36, 42, 48”

Top with square neckline and knitted lace accents, ¾ length sleeves.
Finished bust sizes 36, 40, 42, 46”

Openwork lace top with trimmed crochet flowers. Finished bust sizes 37, 40
,43, 46”

Simple top with flower eyelet lace pattern at the waistline. Finished bust
is 38, 42, 46, 50”

Sleeveless top with eyelet lace pattern and wide ribbon straps with daring
neckline. Finished bust sizes 32, 34, 36, 38”

Short sleeved top that can be worn alone or with in a layered look.
Finished bust sizes 36, 40, 44, 48”

Dress with knitted skirt with lace pattern and crocheted halter bodice.
Finished bust size is 36”

Allover rib top with draped collar and plunging neckline insert. Finished
bust sizes 30, 34, 37, 41, 44”

Bandeau top with braided cables. Fits bust sizes 28-30, 32034, 36-38,
40-42”

Top knit side to side on big needles with ribbon yarn. Finished bust sizes
36, 40, 44”

Cropped length classic wrap sweater. Finished bust sizes 27, 30, 34, 38”

Top knit in one piece from front to back with simple slits Finished bust
sizes 33 ½, 38 ½, 40 ½, 43”

Chevron striped sweater with boatneck. Finished bust sizes 32, 36, 39, 43”

Shaped vest with deep rib band and cable patterns. Finished bust sizes 33,
36, 38, 41, 44”

Hip length tunic in a ripple lace pattern with cap sleeves. Finished bust
sizes 32, 35, 38, 41, 44”

Cardigan with net pattern sleeves and broad cables. Finished bust sizes
35, 38, 40, 43”

Bands of stripes sweater. Done in three patterns. Finished bust sizes 28,
33, 37, 41, 45”

Baby Doll Top. Skirt is knitted, top crocheted. Finished bust sizes 29 ½,
32, 34 ½, 37, 39 ½”

Tiny Cables top. Alternating stripes of ribbing and baby cables. Finished
bust sizes 32, 35, 39, 42, 46”

Raglan Lace Sweater. Openwork lace pattern. Finished bust sizes 34, 38, 41,
45”

Lace Mini dress. Can be worn as tunic. Finished bust sizes 34, 38, 40, 45,
47”

Textured Vest. Pattern is alternating rows of garter stitch and an eyelet
pattern. Finished bust sizes 28, 32, 36, 40, 44”

U Neck lace sweater. Chevron lace pattern. Finished bust sizes 28, 35, 40,
47”

Kimono Sleeve Pullover. Deep waist ribbing with window pane effect.
Finished bust sizes 31, 35, 38, 41, 44”

Kimono Style Jacket. Chanel style two color jacket. Finished bust sizes 33,
36, 39 42, 46”

Ribbed Tunic. Finished bust sizes 34, 37, 40, 43”

Star Lace Sweater. Finished bust sizes 37, 40, 43, 46’

Sequin Wrap. Sleeveless top with drawstring ties. Finished bust sizes 31,
35, 39, 42”

Deep V neck Vest. Knit in a lace pattern For bust sizes 30-32, 34-36,
38-40, 42-44. Finished bust sizes 34, 40, 45, 51”

Bolero Cardigan. For finished bust sizes 33, 36, 39, 43, 47
Drawstring Halter Top. For finished bust sizes 34, 37, 40, 43”

Chevron Halter. Finished bust sizes 27, 38”

Lace Dress. Can be used as a tunic. Has crocheted border and a very deep V
neckline. Finished bust sizes 49, 53, 57, 62”

Side to Side Sweater. Knit in stripes from side to side. Finished bust
sizes 48, 52, 56, 60”

Wave Vest. Finished bust sizes 40, 44, 47, 54”

Chevron Lace Sweater. Finished bust sizes 36, 48”

Lace Tunic. Finished bust sizes 40, 48, 56”

Bas Relief Sweater. Has dramatic shaped points on one side of the garment.
Finished bust measurements 48,52, 56”

Peplum Sweater. Knit in two rectangles of knitted lace and sewn to a v
shaped front and back. Finished bust sizes 45, 49, 53, 57”

Lace Sweater. Finished bust sizes 44, 48, 52, 56”

Basketweave Pullover. Child’s finished sizes 25, 28, 30”

Girls Vest. Looks like a bolero. Finished sizes 28, 30, 32

Girls A Line dress. Finished chest sizes 26, 28, 30”

Girls Peplum Sweater. Finished chest sizes 28, 30, 32”

Girls Shrug. Finished chest sizes 24, 26, 28”

Granny Square Skirt. Crocheted. Finished waist size is 24”

Boys Cabled Sweater. Has v neck with stripes. Finished chest is 24, 28,
32 ½”

Boys Striped Sweater, Finished chest sizes 29, 31, 33”