Who wants to go back in time for some serious intarsia sock knitting patterns?
No really, if the thought of intarsia turns you off immediately, this post may not be for you. This booklet, published by the Bernat company in 1953, contains mostly sock patterns—all with intarsia patterning on the leg, so they’d have been knit flat—with a handful of other patterns, all geared toward men.
Which makes me wonder—when did knitting for men become equated with a “sweater curse”? (Obviously it’s not really a thing and I mean no disrespect to men, men who knit, or readers who knit for their partners of either sex or any gender-identification; I’m just pondering.) I mentioned this booklet to Julia Farwell-Clay when we were chatting the other day and she mentioned that in her mother’s generation, it was de rigeur to knit socks such as these for one’s beau.
I don’t know that I love anyone enough to knit intarsia socks (maybe me; I would knit some of these for me), but it’s interesting to recognize and ponder on the shifts that have taken place throughout knitting, and in a larger context, Western/North American society in general in the course of 60 years. More on that later. For now, there are socks!
Socks with Escher-esque patterning.
Socks with fancy patterning.
Socks with foxes! (I’m trying so hard to not turn this into a Dr. Seuss post.)
Socks with horses…
Socks with dice.
Socks with …coffee? Beer through a straw? I can’t figure this one out.
Socks with giant geometric shapes that I kind of love.
Socks for golf clubs!
And when you get bored with socks, there’s a vest for a change of pace.
Now for the fun part. I know I’ve talked about this before—comparing the amount of information provided in old patterns versus newer patterns. Why is there such a disconnect between sparse, pared down pattern-writing of old and the trend/”necessity” today to spell out every. last. detail? I’m not judging anyone, knitters or pattern writers, but allow me to show you what passed for a charted pattern in 1953.
A hand-drawn chart for colorwork socks. Note the symbols in place of colors, as there wasn’t much if any color printing, oh and also the fact that it’s HAND DRAWN.
And when you were ready to knit the other sock?
And the instructions for the socks on the pages only included instructions for working the leg. Knitters were then told to turn to the last page of the book and work instructions for either Sock A or Sock B for the heel and foot.
So now I open the floor to discussion of the shift in pattern writing over the last six decades. Knitting certainly declined for part of that time—are we catering to newer knitters without the benefit of passed down knowledge? Are today’s knitters just more fearful in the face of instructions? Is the advent of digital publishing and not worrying about page space on the internet creating a demand for all of the information ever? Share your hypotheses in the comments!
Categories: throwback thursday