Today, in honor of starting my first toe-up sock, I present to you, a brief lesson in sock history, taken from the Great Nancy Bush’s book, Folk Socks, on page 13.
“Many Islamic stockings and other knitted fragments date from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries. Like the Coptic socks mentioned earlier, many were worked from the toe upward, hand-knit with needles that may or may not have had hooked points…”
“…Although the old style of of woven hose were still worn, knitted stockings became increasingly popular. Knitted fabric was superior to woven cloth because it retained its shape and fit better and if offered new options in design and color.”
And on page 15:
“An exceptionally beautiful pair of silk stockings were worn by Gustavus II Adolphus, who lived from 1594 to 1632, during his coronation in 1617. They are hand knit of white silk and measure approximately 26” long. There are 25 stitches 32 rows to an inch, indicating craftsmanship of amazing skill.”
Now, I’m a pretty big fan of history, but not so much a fan of sewing, so when I first began to knit socks, it made a lot more sense to me to learn top-down socks, to minimize the sewing. There would only be a little kitchener stitch on the toe, and weaving in my ends, and that’s it. I could live with that. I saw pictures of toe-up socks and admired from afar, but I didn’t touch them. There was no way I wanted to sew up 15 stitches.
But this month, when I decided to do my first serious Sock Down with Sock Knitters Anonymous on Ravelry, I had a choice between yellow socks, and Wendy Johnson socks, which are pretty much all toe-up. Normally, I would have avoided the toe-ups like the plague and copped out with a nice sunny yellow pattern, but see, I just finished knitting one pair of yellow socks last fall, and I still have one more Twisted Tulip sock to do as well…so yellow seemed pretty much out of the question for me.
The stars must have been aligned for me to try toe-ups, because Mom gifted me a skein of Estelle’s Candenza yarn in a beautiful variegated green, but only one three conditions; I had to do a toe-up sock, a Cookie A. sock, or a sock from her “Socks for Handpainted Yarn” book. When we found out the theme for September, well, the fates were pretty much decided for me. Wendy Johnson it was!
It didn’t take me long to choose either. Only a couple pages in were these gorgeous lacey lavender socks, and I fell in love with them, even from the smaller photograph. And when I saw them up close, wow! I knew I had to make those socks. Riding on the Metro it was, and I must say…I think I am a little addicted, because here’s what I accomplished in a day…and I did a little more after I took this photo too:
Pictured is the entire 6 inches I was required for the foot, and there are several rows done on the gusset now, enough so that you can begin to see the shape of it. I used Judy’s Magic Cast On, got it wrong the first time and turned it inside out, but then ripped it out, redid it perfectly, and off I went!
My biggest knitting goals for September are to finish these socks, and to at least get partway into the second Twisted Tulip sock, if not finish it, and to wind all of my yarn currently in skeins and pack them for moving. That’s right, moving! My boyfriend and I are moving in together for October, so I have a lot of packing to get done here! All my yarn needs to be properly wound and stored, I don’t want anything bad to happen to it!
And oh yes…in case you’re wondering how I got this new photo of my sock up…I bought batteries. Lots of batteries.