Nancy Bush

Teacher Spotlight: Nancy Bush

I thought it would be nice to highlight the three teachers I have lined up for my Knit For Fun Retreat in La Jolla, California, this fall. Nancy Bush, Andrea Rangel, and Veera Valamaki will all be spreading their wisdom and encouragement between September 19 and 23.

Nancy Bush

Like many knitters, Nancy Bush taught me to knit socks. More than that, she helped me understand sock construction and set the foundation for my ability to design sock patterns. I first met Nancy in 1993 when her first book Folk Socks was in the process of being published by Interweave Press, where I had recently joined the book department. That book launched the sock knitting craze that shows no sign of abating.

Nancy studied Art History in college and weaving from experts in Sweden. Both experiences added to her appreciation of traditional textiles, particularly knitting.


Nancy opened The Wooly West retail store in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1980 after returning from time abroad in weaving school in Sweden and working as a nanny in France. She chose knitting as a primary focus because she loved the portability of it (as opposed to weaving) and realized that knitting was accessible to everyone–the tools are few and the basic skills are easy to teach and to learn. Through the years, her shop has encouraged more folks to knit than she ever thought possible.

Nancy sold the retail store in June of 2000, but continued The Wooly West as an online endeavor. One of the first shops in the USA to carry true Shetland yarn to sock yarn imported from Wales, The Wooly West has offered “real” wool and great colors for projects to make any knitter proud. She now offers a collection of yarns to which she is devoted. You’ll also find patterns for shawls and scarves, as well as sock and other small projects, her books, a collection of books from Estonia, and some special accessories. Nancy’s goal for the Wooly West has always been to offer fine natural fiber yarns, classic and traditional patterns, useful knitting tools, and expert instruction to all of her customers.

Nancy unleashed her passion for Estonia, the country and people as well as the knitting, while writing Folk Socks, and has devoted her work to Estonian knitting ever since. She has visited Estonia many times as a researcher, travel guide, and tourist.

Since 1993, Nancy has written four other books: Knitted Lace of Estonia, Folk Knitting in Estonia, Knitting Vintage Socks, and Knitting on the Road (not shown because I’ve lost my copy), and, most recently, updated Folk Socks. Each of these books is about knitting, but also includes some history of the craft.

Nancy has also written numerous articles and patterns for many publications, including PieceWork and Knitting Traditions, and recorded an online workshop called Estonian Lace Explained for Blueprint (formerly Craftsy)

At the Fall 2019 Knit For Fun Retreat in La Jolla, California, Nancy will teach the following classes:

Estonian Cast-ons—Useful and Colorful Beginnings
The Estonians have many interesting ways to cast on for their knitting, each giving a unique effect. Students will learn several different ways to cast on, including variations of a decorative braided cast on and an outstanding, stretchy and bold cast on for socks, cuffs or even the edge of a sweater. Students will learn when to use each technique and what makes each one special.

Nordic Color—Roositud, an Estonian Inlay Technique
Estonians use a special inlay technique for adding decorative color motifs to gloves and socks. Unlike embroidery, the technique is worked right into the knitting, row by row. Learn how to read Roositud charts and work this unique and colorful embellishment by knitting a sample in class.

Knitting Estonian Lace—A 200-year history
Estonia has a lace tradition spanning nearly 200 years. In this class, you’ll explore the stitch patterns and some of the history of lace knitting from Haapsalu. Through knitting a sampler, you’ll learn several ways that Estonian knitters create texture in their exquisite lace shawls.

Muhu Knitting Traditions—Color and Texture from a Small Estonian Island
The knitting from Muhu Island, off the west coast of Estonia, has gone through many changes since knitting was first practiced there several centuries ago. Learn the evolution of knitting on Muhu and learn about the colorful, intricate braided and patterned cuffs of Muhu mittens and gloves, popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, all while making a mitten, or mitt using unique techniques.

Click here for more information on the Knit For Fun Retreat that will feature Nancy Bush as a teacher.

2 thoughts on “Teacher Spotlight: Nancy Bush”

  1. Thanks for the history of Nancy Bush – very interesting – would love to do the workshop, but we are on a Baltic cruise (repeating it since I loved it so much the first time) at that time – so I will be thinking of Nancy when I am in Estonia.

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