HNW - early silk stockings

Noramunro@aol.com Noramunro at aol.com
Wed Jul 28 08:21:33 PDT 1999


> Looking at the photos, which show a seam under the heel - very neatly done, 
>  and flat.  Then there is a ridge all the way down the heel flap, where the 
>  gusset begins.  My theory is that this knitter did not know how to pick up 
>  stitches as we do now, and instead put the knitting needle next to the 
heel 
>  flap and overcast stitch through each knit stitch, over the knitting 
needle 
>  and back through the next stitch.  I tried it on my test stockings (wool) 
> and I get a ridge that looks the same as in the photos.  
>  Any suggestions from anyone else.

OK, I am perhaps winging this a bit as I have not read the Ekstrand article 
and don't know the dates of the stockings in question.  I am also having 
trouble visualising what it is you say you're doing that is producing the 
effect.  However, in an appendix to _A History of Handknitting_ (pp 239-241) 
Rutt prints the earliest surviving English knitting pattern, which is for 
stockings and first appeared in _Natura Extenterata_ (1655).  The heel is 
worked by dividing the stitches onto three needles -- one for the instep and 
two for the heel flap.  The heel stitches are worked in decreasing rows, and 
when the decreases reach a certain point, the stitches from the two heel 
needles are cast off together.  Then the stitches on each side of the heel 
flap are knit up  and around along with the instep stitches, and you work the 
foot.  (The toe portion of the pattern is missing, so how they meant that to 
be done is anyone's guess).

I knit a sample foot following this pattern for illustrative purposes, 
picking up the stitches on the sides of the heel flaps in the usual modern 
way, and found it produced a foot which looks exactly like those on the 
stockings of Duke Barnim XII of Pomerania (1549-1603, photos in Rutt, 73).  
Rutt's comment (74) is that the stockings photographed in Ekstrand's article 
have heel shapings like those of the Duke Barnim stockings, and both are 
similar to the shaping in the 1655 pattern.

For what it's worth ...

Stephanie/Alianora
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