The Most Amazing Crochet Socks Ever!

Jul 16, 2012

The detailed crochet patterns we now enjoy are a fairly new development. The patterns for many vintage crocheted items, if they can be found, provide only a list of stitches and sparse instructions. Picking up one of these patterns and using a hook and ball of thread or skein of yarn to create a finished amigurumi cat, lace motif, cap, or teddy bear filet edging (see below) is like following a treasure map. 

A pair of intricately crocheted vintage socks. Maker, place of origin, and date unknown.  

Like an archeologist with a treasure map, you have to use your unique language skills-because not everyone can read Sl st over pc, working over pc and in blo, sc in 1st 3 hdc-to decipher the next step of the journey. And when you finally reach the end of the pattern, holding the finished piece feels a bit like finding treasure.

Patterns for some fantastic vintage crochet items have been lost or never existed. Sarah Read, Interweave Crochet's project editor, was immediately taken by a pair of crocheted socks that were given to a friend. The socks arrived without a backstory or pattern, but Sarah was determined to create her own socks with their own story. And along the way, she created a pattern to share with us in the brand-new Crochet Traditions. Here is Sarah to tell us a little bit about the experience:

Crochet the Amazing Technicolor Tapestry Sock

  Sarah Reads re-creation of the vintage socks

Every now and then I enjoy a bit of creative madness, and the Amazing Technicolor Tapestry Socks project should hold me over a couple months. I spent 6 months (with a few breaks here and there) trying to piece together the pattern for these socks, counting stitches (lots of stitches), drawing charts, and crocheting way past my bedtime.

Sitting in my favorite chair with my magnifier and light, I tried to puzzle out the mysterious origins of these socks. No one knows where they came from, or who made them, or when they were made. Their shape and colors suggest eastern European influence, but the colorwork and stitch techniques look Finnish. In any case, I can attest to the labor of love that the original pair must have been. The originals were almost certainly not worked from a pattern, and I wonder what the images on them signified to the maker or the wearer. They look well cared for, but worn, and I wonder what special occasions warranted the wearing of these special socks-a festival of some kind or only for weddings?

Vintage Teddy-Bear Lace crocheted in two sizes  

In any case, I only managed to make one sock. I haven't given up on making its match someday. For now, it hangs on my studio wall, quietly preaching the beautiful intricacy of vintage sock patterns and the merits of cowls made with bulky wool.

~ Sarah

Gather your crochet hook, yarn, thread, and exploration tools and create your own treasure with the vintage and vintage-inspired patterns as well as great stories about early crocheters. Order your copy of Crochet Traditions today!

Best wishes,

P.S. Do you have tips for crocheting with vintage patterns? Share them in the comments. 


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Crochet Traditions Fall 2012

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Crochet Traditions Fall 2012 special issue magazine traces the history and traditions of crochet through a variety of techniques, such as Irish and filet, and patterns.


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bethyarn wrote
on Jul 16, 2012 11:37 AM

Try putting the handmade object on your scanner and scanning and enlarging it. I was struggling with magnifiers while trying to figure out the pattern for some crochet lace made by a relative and it worked really well! On the enlarged scan (copy)  each stitch was visible and could be counted!

on Jul 21, 2012 8:00 PM

The page for the crochet socks does not load properly, impossible to download the e book

Toni Rexroat wrote
on Jul 23, 2012 12:02 PM

Hi Cyndy,

I am sorry you are having difficulty getting the page to load properly. I tried but could not replicate the problem. Here is the direct link. Perhaps that will be easier for you to follow. Please let me know if you continue to have trouble.


on Aug 8, 2012 7:10 PM

I take my piece of vintage, which is so often so densely made that I can't see the stitches... and I enlarge it on a copier.  The last piece that I worked with was a motif from an old bedspread.  I had to enlarge it 400 times to see the stitches...but it worked.

Eva_Hamburg wrote
on Aug 9, 2012 7:09 AM

I'm pretty sure this is Estonian work from the first half of 20th century. Usually, Estonian socks were knitted; the use of pattern, however, points on Estonia, maybe southern or islands, rather than the north.

Of course, this work might come from Finland as well. They are related, their languages are very similar, and this is why they often related to each other's culture. If this work is Estonian, it might have been created in the short period of an Estonian republic from 1920 until the beginning of WWII when Estonia was taken over by Stalin. In this period, Estonian culture became treasured by people who developed a new self-esteem, after it had been denounced as "rural" and "primitive" by the ruling German elite.

Here is some material for comparism:

Many of these patterns were taken from the Estonian "fiberwork bible" (which I own)

or google "Eesti käsitöö"

Had to do the whole sign up ritual just for this comment. What about publishing an e-mail adress for single comments?

tdbellan wrote
on Nov 11, 2012 11:12 AM

I'm having trouble with the first part of the pattern. I know it is all done sc blo, but the part that states "rotate to work along other side ch." Does that mean the foundation chain? Please help.

Toni Rexroat wrote
on Nov 12, 2012 1:42 PM

Tdbellan, yes when the pattern says to "rotate to work along other side ch" they are talking about the foundation chain. You will end up working crochet stitches on both sides of the foundation chain.