I wanted to share my thoughts on Nancy Bush's Folk Socks before I have to return it to the library. I was pleasantly surprised by how much knitting history is in this book. It is well-written and appears to be well-researched. There's also a large section of numerous variations for heels (all based on heel flaps except for an afterthought heel) and toes. (Where else could you read about the Balbriggan heel?) This could be really useful for big-time historical accuracy buffs or designers looking to make their socks a little different. Patterns lean heavily towards stranded colorwork, with several lace or cable patterns to boot.
The only pattern I'm really in love with is for "Norwegian Stockings."
The biggest issue I see with the patterns is sizing. The patterns do not indicate finished size (other than indirectly through gauge and stitch number). Others simply state "for men" or "for ladies," with only one stitch count given in the pattern. Newer sock knitters might have problems figuring out the size sock that would result from following the pattern as written, let alone figuring out how to adjust complicated colorwork for an altered stitch count.
In my beloved Norwegian Stocking pattern, the socks appear to end at mid-calf (although I can't be exactly sure because the finished height isn't given). The pattern states, "These stockings will fit a man or a woman." I have a very hard time believing this, especially when the reduced stretch of stranded colorwork is taken into account. I'm pretty sure the average man's calf and foot size are different from the average woman's. Perhaps Bush meant that these socks fit a particular man and a particular woman. The only problem is, we don't know who they are or what their measurements are!
Overall, I think this book is a great read for sock knitters, with a lot of historical information and instructions for obscure heels. The patterns may be best left to those willing to put a bit of extra effort into getting the right fit.