Socks Classes

Lithuanian Sock Heels and Toes (hands-on workshop)
6 HOURS
25 students max
Materials: 1 ball of sock yarn, two sets of 5 appropriate sized double-
pointed needles, basic knitter’s toolkit
Experience: Intermediate, need to know how to knit with double-pointed
needles, and have made at least 1 pair of socks (or 1 Christmas stocking)
Description:
Working from instructions I have translated from vintage Lithuanian knitting
books, we will knit several types of heels and toes that I have never seen
used in contemporary American knitting patterns. We will also look at
different types of sock construction used in Lithuania in the 19th century,
and discuss the history and cultural development of Lithuania, with a focus
on influences on knitting patterns and techniques used in the country. We
will learn how to knit an unusual short row heel that also has a gusset, a
stair-step heel, and several variations of heel stitches for heels with flaps.
We will also look at several ways to shape toes including two unusual
spiral designs with decorative decreases. I will have a selection of hand-
knit socks from Lithuania to examine up close. Students will also receive a
collection of colorwork and lace charts for sock stitches that are popular in
Lithuania.
Bosnian Toe-Up Colorwork Socks (hands-on workshop)
6 HOURS
25 students max
Materials: 3-4 balls of sock yarn in different colors, set of 5 appropriately
sized double-pointed needles, a crochet hook of the same size, basic
knitting toolkit
Experience: Intermediate, need to know how to knit with double-pointed
needles, and have made at least 1 pair of socks (or 1 Christmas stocking)
Description:
In this class we will learn how to work with multiple colors in a row without
tangling the yarns or having long strands, using the technique that has
been used traditionally in the Balkans and the Andes, and is similar to
the Portuguese style of knitting. In this technique, we will tension the yarn
around our necks and learn how to work stockinette stitch from the wrong-
side in circular knitting, with a purl stitch that will give you the most even
colorwork tension you’ve ever seen. We will also learn how to make a
fascinating Bosnian toe-up sock that has a rectangular toe that is knitted
flat, but without purls! The rest of the sock is knitted in-the-round with
an “after thought” short-row heel and decorative crochet finishing. I have
several examples of hand-knit Bosnian slipper socks that we will examine
closely.
Recreating Traditional Folk Socks (hands-on workshop)
6 HOURS
25 students max
Materials: Pencil and pen, graph paper, calculator, basic knitting stitch
library (optional), eye glasses or magnifier (if you need them for close
work), a pair of hand-knitted socks you’d like to reproduce (or you can use
one of my examples), 3-4 balls of sock yarn in different colors, and a set of
4 or 5 appropriately sized double-pointed needles
Experience: Advanced, need to know how to knit with double-pointed
needles, and be familiar with several kinds of sock heel and toe
construction methods
Description:
In this workshop, we will look at vintage sock patterns, photos from socks
in museum collections, and samples of folk-art socks that I’ve collected
in Eastern Europe, as well as any socks you’d like to bring with you to
examine. We will then learn how to “read” the socks to determine how they
were made and answer these questions, and more: Toe up or cuff down?
What type of cast on? What type of bind-off? What pattern stitches and
colors? What is the gauge? What fiber is used? At the end of the class,
each student will be ready to begin reproducing a pair of ethnic socks
and will leave the classroom with charts and an outline of instructions
for making their own reproduction or a modern variation inspired by a
traditional sock design.
Writing Patterns for Sock Designers (hands-on workshop)
6 HOURS
25 students max
Materials: Pencil and pen, graph paper, calculator, basic knitting stitch
library (optional), eye glasses or magnifier (if you need them for close
work), a pair of hand-knitted socks (would be great if you designed them
yourself)
Experience: Advanced, need to know how to knit with double-pointed
needles, and be familiar with at least one type of sock heel and toe
construction
Description:
The heart of how-to writing is the step-by-step instructions for completing
a task. Writing instructions is not difficult, but it does require attention to
detail. General guidelines for good writing apply to writing instructions
and the techniques of technical writing, usually focused on computer
or software manuals, also apply to writing low-tech instructions such as
knitting patterns. In this class we will discuss the architecture of a knitting
pattern, compare the parts of a pattern to the parts of a sock, and learn
how to write instructions from looking at a finished object. Working in pairs,
we will examine a sample sock and draft a sock pattern. We will then trade
socks and patterns with another team and learn about tech editing, one of
the most important keys to publishing accurate knitting patterns. We will
also discuss test knitting, but will not have time to test knit our patterns in
class.
Lithuanian Socks: Spinning and Knitting (slide show & lecture)
1 HOUR
Unlimited participants
No materials needed
All skill levels welcome
Description:
Spinning was an integral part of daily life for rural villagers in Lithuania.
Long after people in Western Europe and America were wearing mass-
produced clothing and using commercially made linens, Lithuanians
were still making most of their yarn and fabric from scratch. Small farms
were self-sufficient; little or no money was needed to supplement the
household’s home production. All the women and girls in a family spun,
and the mother managed and assigned all of the spinning tasks. Many
old women, especially widows, sold handspun yarn and fabric because
they had no other way to make a living. Fine linen threads were spun
for weaving a muslin-type fabric and sewing thread, and skeins were
tested for quality by drawing them through a wedding ring. Linen (and
later cotton) was also used for knitting summer gloves and socks. Coarse
Lithuanian wool was spun into stiff and heavy yarns to knit winter mittens
and socks and to weave fabrics that would be for heavy, fulled and sewn
into heavy overcoats. In this lecture, we will look at a slide show of knitting
exhibitions in Lithuanian museums, as well as photos from my travels
around the country over the past four summers. We will learn about the
materials and techniques used for spinning yarn and knitting socks (and
other accessories) in Lithuania and talk about the most popular techniques
for constructing sock heels and toes.
Knitting Socks from Japanese Pattern Books (hands-on
workshop)
6 HOURS
Materials: About 50 yards of worsted or sport weight yarn and size 7 or 5
needles for swatching. Pencil and eraser, calculator, basic knitting tools.
Experience: Intermediate. Knitters should have experience knitting several
pairs of socks on double-pointed needles and understand the basic
construction of a sock (cuff, calf, ankle, heel, heel turn, instep, foot toe).
Description:
Japanese knitting books are hot right now. Although the
patterns are written entirely in Japanese, they are not impossible for
American audiences to read. Very light on text and very heavy on charts
and schematics, with a cheat sheet of translations, any adventurous
knitter can enter the world of Japanese knitting. In this class we will learn
how to understand Japanese sock patterns, focusing on the charts and
schematics. Because Japanese patterns usually are written for one size,
we will also discuss how to resize the patterns. In addition, we will learn a
few interesting Japanese stitches and techniques that can be used to add
an extra level of finesse to any project.
Balkan Socks in the Edith Durham collection of the Bankfield
Museum (slide show & lecture)
1 HOUR
Unlimited participants
No materials needed
All skill levels welcome
Description:
Edith Durham was an anthropologist and collector of Balkan textiles who
donated her collection to the Bankfield Museum in Halifax, England, in
1935. The collection includes several pairs of hand-spun, hand-knitted
socks and gloves that are made with exquisite detail. I was privileged to
be able to visit an exhibition of the Edith Durham collection at the museum
in 2009, and to examine the entire collection of knitted items more closely
during a return research trip in 2010. In this lecture, we will talk about
Edith Durham’s experiences traveling around the Balkans in the early
20th century, and look at slides of the knitted items in the collection, as
well as historical photographs from her travels, and detailed drawings
of several pairs of Balkan hand-knit socks. We will also discuss the
knitting techniques used in making the elaborately decorated Albanian
slipper socks and the two-layer lace and colorwork socks in the Bankfield
Museum.


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