5 Traditional Albanian Socks
We are thrilled about PieceWork’s newest eBook! Here is Lindsay Smith, Interweave’s instructional designer assistant, to tell you all about it!
As a self-proclaimed knitting nerd, I was delighted to review Mimi Seyferth’s new eBook, 5 Traditional Albanian Socks to Knit: A Travel Memoir in Stitches. For a long time I have daydreamed about travelling to a foreign place and meticulously cataloging all the textiles I can find. Until I can make that trip, this eBook is the next best thing.
I know a little bit about Albania from following my college friend’s Peace Corps’ adventures through Facebook but did not realize the country had such a rich and varied sock knitting history. I love that Mimi found actual examples of socks and transcribed each pattern so an American knitter can faithfully reproduce them. What an accessible, fun way to get involved in ethnic sock knitting.
The first project, “Double-Headed Eagle Socks,” is nothing if not eye-catching. The pattern’s introduction even includes a folk story to explain the origin of the eagle motif. This pattern uses a unique Intarsia-in-the-Round Yarnover method (which Mimi notes, is not the same as the more well-known Intarsia-in-the-Round method.) Compared to the original socks Seyferth found in Albania, her reproduction was knit at a tighter gauge. This creates a crisper colorwork image on the cuff as well as a harder wearing sock on the heel and foot, and a warmer pair of socks overall.
For the vibrant “Colored Cross Socks,” Mimi reproduced her original gift shop find by using a combination of Aran-weight yarn and a small needle. Not only do these socks show off a beautiful color palette, but their double-thickness stranded colorwork design creates a dense fabric that is quite warm and hardwearing. I love the simple but thoughtful detail of contrasting colorwork on the toe. It feels like looking through a small window to the personality of the original designer.
My favorite project in the eBook, the “Pink and White Socks,” are like nothing I’ve ever seen. They are constructed in an interesting fashion: their delicate white lace cuffs were knitted top-down and contrast with their gorgeous pink embroidered feet, knitted toe-up. In the original pattern, the two pieces were sewn together by hand, while Mimi’s version uses a Three-Needle Bind-Off for a tidier join. I can see this project being a challenge, but an approachable one that will never fail to keep the knitter’s attention. It would be hard to be in a bad mood while wearing these joyful, colorful socks!
5 Traditional Albanian Socks To Knit has only begun to pique my interest on the subject of traditional Albanian sock knitting. Each pattern tells a story of identity, practicality, and appreciation for the beauty in everyday things. I can’t wait to learn more about this incredible fiber arts tradition.
We love to see what you create. If you knit any of these socks, please send us a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org with Albanian Socks in the subject line.
Happy Albanian sock knitting!
Featured image: Mimi Seyferth based her double-headed eagle motif for these socks on the current Albanian flag.
All photos by Joe Coca.