On Sock Knitting and Victorian Illustrations
We asked Lindsay Smith, our digital content producer and sock knitter extraordinaire, to share her thoughts on our new PieceWork eBook–Weldon’s Practical Stocking Knitter, Third & Fourth Series. This material was originally published in Victorian London between 1886 and 1894. Here’s Lindsay:
Every time I open a Weldon’s volume, I first flip through the pages and study the illustrations. The intricate details never cease to amaze me. I pull my glasses down on my nose and get close to the drawings–I love to study how delicately the illustrator changed the stitch direction at the heel turn of the stocking. I love to see how each precise, left-leaning cable has a bit of shading behind it for depth. As a rather terrible Drawing I student in college, I marvel at the ability of the illustrator to impart enough detail in his or her work that would allow you to reverse engineer a pattern from the picture if you really needed to.
Next, I look at the captions. Worked on two needles?? How would you knit a lace sock on two needles? Would you knit it flat and seam it up? They didn’t have the two circulars method, did they? Was it knit toe-up or cuff-down? How was the heel constructed? Before I know it, it’s happened again: I’ve lost track of time reading sock knitting patterns in Weldon’s.
I teach beginning sock knitting on some weekends at a local yarn store and delight in seeing my students complete their very first sock after three long sessions of class. No matter their age, each student holds up his or her one sock with pride, like a child showing off artwork to her parents. I’m proud of my students, and I’m proud to be using and teaching many of the same techniques knitters before me recorded in Weldon’s. Every time you pore over a stocking illustration or figure out a particularly difficult part of the pattern (some of those 19th-century instructions can be a little bit quirky), a piece of history stays alive. Those knitters may not still be around, but their legacy lives on in each sock that comes off our needles.
For thirty (!) stocking patterns and many beautiful illustrations, consider downloading the Weldon’s Practical Stocking Knitter, Third & Fourth Series eBook. This collection is ideal for knitters who are past the beginner sock knitting stages as detailed in the earlier Weldon’s Practical Stocking Knitter series.
Happy Knitting (and exploring!)