A Brief History of Socks


I don't know how much you may already know about handmade wool socks, but they are truly miraculous!

Handknitted stockings first appeared in Britain during the reign of Henry VIII. In 1560 his daughter Queen Elizabeth I received a gift of knitted silk stockings and declared she would never wear cloth stockings again because the knitted ones were so pleasant. Schools were created to teach knitting skills to children and the poor, and by the mid-seventeenth century people throughout the British countryside were knitting for income.  Throughout the nineteenth century, thousands of pairs of British stockings were exported to Europe & America.  

One could argue that wars have been won and lost on the quality of the soldiers footwear.  Stories of the Revolutionary War state that the British were able to follow our men because they left bloody footprints in the snow, due to blisters.  Martha Washington usually made camp with George and always had her knitting with her. She endlessly campaigned for everyone to knit their bit for our soldiers. As late as WWII the Red Cross campaigned for civilians to knit socks for our boys and provided regulation wool and patterns for anyone who would do it. You can learn more about the history of promoting sock knitting, and other types of knitting at redcross.org.

So what makes handknit socks so much better than machine made?  Primarily because they are knit to fit a specific foot and their construction makes them more anatomically correct than machine made socks.  Consequently handknit socks do not bunch or slip down your foot.  Also, the toes are closed seamlessly together so there are no irritating toe seams.

If you like to use wool to knit socks, they will be both breathable and insulating, and will keep your feet at body temperature. Wool is both water repellent and can hold about 40% of it’s weight in water without feeling wet.  Wool also has natural anti-microbial qualities which help to prevent foot infection should one have to wear wet socks for a while.

Yarnivore has a wide assortment of sock yarns and sock classes.  We'd be more than happy to get you started on your first pair!