Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin each Thursday. Read past columns here.
I seem to have been born with needles in my hands. This might sound a bit creepy like Edward Scissorhands so please let me explain.
As a very young child I remember my mother teaching me how to cross stitch on gingham fabric. Gingham is a checkerboard fabric not in use as much today but it’s those patterned squares that make sewing small x-shaped stitches, or cross stitching, easy. The two of us churned out Christmas presents of potholders and aprons for a number of aunts and cousins, all the cross stitching done by me.
My most memorable Christmas ever was the year when I was eight. My mother presented me with a box of scraps of fabric, tiny snaps, hooks and eyes, little buttons and assorted lengths of trim from the William Wright Company. This was the 1960s and most Depression-Era mothers were amazing creatures who pinched pennies and stretched them even further. Therefore, many of the scraps of fabric and rickrack and lace were from relatives and family friends, contributed from their own handiwork caches.
Within months, I learned to turn the contents of this wondrous box into sheaths and blouses for my blonde, tiny-hipped and bubble-haired Barbie doll.
A few years later I was making my entire school wardrobe. In 1973 I designed and handcrafted my own wedding dress using that same1951 Featherweight Singer sewing machine I had learned to sew on.
My mother had lovingly taught me a skill that I would use again and again over the years. It was one of my mother’s friends who taught me how to make my first knitting stitches. Years later in my teens my grandmother taught me to crochet. With these two skills I made sweaters and afghans for family members and blankets for babies.
Later I took up Bargello, needlepoint and counted cross stitch and when I was raising my children I spent years practicing the art of quilting. I lived by the motto of some anonymous author: “I cannot count my day complete ’til needle, thread and fabric meet.”
Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or the eyesight these days to enjoy much needlework. I am, however, one of those lucky librarians who order the new handcrafting books for the library. I wistfully watch those fresh new books come into the library and then, with amazing speed, leave in the hands of some lucky knitter or quilter.
It seems, in my years of absence from the art, that the world of knitting has gotten crazy about socks. I’m here to tell you that it has and we have at least a dozen new books to prove it.
Socks are colorful. Socks are comfortable. And they make great gifts. “The Sock Knitter’s Workshop: Everything Knitters Need to Knit Socks Beautifully” by Ewa Jostes is filled with hundreds of illustrations and instructions for beginners and experts. Betsy McCarthy, the author of “Knit Socks!: 17 Classic Patterns for Cozy Feet” might claim that your very first knitting project could be socks.
A great thing about socks as knitting projects is the transportability. Have sock patterns, wool and needles? You will travel. “Around the World in Knitted Socks: 26 Inspired Designs” is by German knitter, Stephanie van der Linden. The best parts of this book are the designs and techniques from Turkey, Japan, Belgium, Scotland, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Austria AND America. It is truly a colorful around-the-world tour but it might not be for the novice knitter. Turning a heel, as they say in the sock-knitting circles, is not always easy.
For the more expert sock knitters who like to think as they knit there is “Knit. Sock. Love.” by Laura Kicey who teaches “intense design workshops. The book is filled with complex patterns of “mind-boggling columns, tessellations and diagonals.” “Think Outside the Sox: 60+ Winning Designs from the Knitter’s Magazine Contest” by Elaine Rowley has instructions for mind-boggling socks with cables and braids.
“Toe-Up Socks for Every Body: Adventurous Lace, Cables, and Colorwork from Wendy Knits” by Wendy D. Johnson includes patterns for turning your favorite ankle length socks to knee highs or thigh highs while “Country Weekend Knits: 25 Classic Patterns to Knit” by Madeline Weston can teach to you to knit “long socks, short socks and those for every occasion.”
Does one sock fit all? Not necessarily in every case, of course and most sock patterns, in general, are written for one size. “Sock Club: Join the Knitting Adventure” by Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott includes a large, important section on the different ways to adjust the sock patterns for size.
One sock takes very little yarn. Two takes only twice that. Yarns can be mixed and matched. “Socks a la Carte: Pick and Choose patterns to Knit Socks Your Way” by Jonelle Raffino helps you experiment with patterns and all different types of yarn.
And what if you’ve gone a little sock crazy and find too much yarn on your hands? “Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Patterns That Go Way Beyond Socks” edited by Judith Durant. Turn that yarn into mittens, baby knits or dog clothes.
What’s not to love about socks? They’re colorful, creative, fashionable and fun. What’s not to love about your library? We’ve got the books to prove it!
For help searching for these titles visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website, www.norwoodlibrary.org