Decoding Yarn Requirements for Vintage Socks with Ann Budd
Ann Budd made the “Man’s Medium-Sized Sock” based on a pattern included in the 1918 booklet, How to Knit (Philadelphia: Dr. D. Jayne & Son). A PieceWork reader found the booklet in a yard-sale bag of odds and ends. Vintage booklets are a boon to knitters looking for new techniques lost to the ravages of time and fashion.
What a find! The 36-page booklet proclaims, “Articles illustrated and described herein which are suitable for the Army or Navy will, if carefully made, be accepted by the American Red Cross for Army and Navy Relief Work.” Included are patterns for helmets (balaclavas), socks, a sweater, wristlets, a muffler, and two women’s sweaters, plus advertisements for Dr. Jayne’s remedies, including “Jaynes’ Expectorant for Coughs, Consumption, Asthma and other Pulmonary Affections” and “Jaynes’ Tonic Vermifuge for Worms, Dyspepsia, Piles, General Debility, &c.”. Dr. Jayne began selling his medicines in 1831, so they were well-known tonics by the time How to Knit was published in 1918.
Yet, as Ann Budd points out, many vintage patterns don’t specify a yarn weight. What is up with that? How is a modern knitter with a penchant for vintage-knitting patterns to cope? Make a gauge swatch of course! Ann knew she wanted a dense sock. She chose a worsted-weight yarn and knit at a tighter-than-normal tension. We don’t want socks with drape—the horror! Can you imagine those poor boys in the World War I trenches with drapey socks? I think not.
In her book Getting Started Knitting Socks, Ann recommends deciding what weight sock you want. From there the yarn options are endless. Again, Ann to the rescue, she includes a handy chart for calculating sock-yarn amounts in different weights and sizes. This chart will help you decode the yarn quantity required in a vintage sock pattern.
Ann did the work for her interpretation of the “Man’s Medium-Sized Sock” featured in the PieceWork March/April 2011 issue. Knit a pair of these socks for your favorite guy; we bet they will become his favorite! Design features include a ribbed cuff worked on 20 percent more stitches than those used for the leg and foot, a clever detail that will ensure that the cuff won’t fall down—no drape!
Get more practical sock knitting tips from Ann Budd!