A Pair of Timeless Railway-Stitch Socks from Weldon’s

We’re back with another pair of gorgeous, timeless socks updated for the 21st-century knitter in PieceWork’s Vintage Railway-Stitch Socks Kit. The socks are full of cushy texture but have a stockinette heel and sole for maximum comfort. These are the perfect treat for yourself, or they will make a stunning gift for someone special in your life.

If you haven’t yet explored the wonderful and often wacky world of Weldon’s Practical Needlework, I urge you to take a look. Interspersed with unfamiliar oddities and Victorian-style garments are timeless gems, such as this sock pattern, that appear as if they were designed this season. I love to pore over the intricate illustrations in each volume, many of which look so lifelike I have mistaken them for photographs. Knitting a smaller project like the Vintage Railway-Stitch Socks would be a perfect place to start on your Weldon’s journey, especially because this pattern includes extra helpful notes to guide you along the way.

Expert knitter and designer Vicki Square has taken the original 19th-century pattern and made a few key modifications for modern knitters. First, she simplified the socks by knitting them all in one color. However, if you’d like to follow the original instructions for the striped heel flap and toe, feel free to do so. Vicki edited the gusset for a sturdy, hole-free construction and introduced Kitchener stitch to the toe (an early 1900s innovation) for a more comfortable fit.

Railway-Stitch Socks

The Vintage Railway-Stitch Socks were designed with attention to details such as shaping in the leg for a better fit. Photos by George Boe.

My favorite thing about wearing vintage socks is the small area of gentle increases on the back to allow for the shape of the calf. Most modern sock patterns are knit straight with no shaping in the leg, relying on the stretch of the fabric to accommodate the body. The increase on the Vintage Railway-Stitch Socks is designed to incorporate the texture of the fabric gradually so the pattern is uninterrupted.

I would be remiss not to mention the complex heathered colorway of the Jagger Spun Mousam Falls Sock Yarn included in the kit. I love the subtle tonality of the yarn, its smooth texture, and stitch definition. While it is not a variegated yarn by any means, the small bits of purple make the color really pop.

The kit includes the original pattern for Gentleman’s Sock. Knitted in Railway Stitch from Weldon’s Practical Needlework, Volume 4, published in England in 1889, comprehensive notes from Vicki Square outlining her alterations to the original pattern, and the yarn needed to knit the Vintage Railway-Stitch Socks in Sapphire.

While I intend to make a pair or two for gifts, I know a pair will end up in my own sock drawer by the end of spring!

Happy vintage sock knitting,

Featured Image: The subtle variation in color of the Mousam Falls Sock Yarn from Jagger Spun is a perfect complement to the stitch pattern in the Vintage Railway-Stitch Socks.

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