Socks, T00.41.32a-b
Posted: Jan 8th, 2020 | Collection Spotlight

Our Object of the Week, a pair of red wool socks from Serbia and Montenegro, goes out to all the makers who are busy crafting handmade gifts for their loved ones!

Like other narrow tube-shaped items, socks are traditionally knit on short knitting needles with points on either end called double pointed needles. The knitter starts by knitting a tube, open at the top end and with a point (for toes!) at the other. After completing the body of the sock, the heel is added using a technique called an afterthought heel: the knitter measures where the heel should start, cuts a stitch, unravels and picks up the stitches in that row, and knits the heel following the same shape used for the toe. It brings new appreciation to the idea of measure twice and cut once – imagine cutting your sock in the wrong place. Eek!

The geometric designs are created using stranded colourwork, which involves knitting with two or more colours at a time. While you knit with one colour, the other yarns are carried along the back until it’s their turn to be knit into the design. Carrying the threads along the back creates a double layer of yarn and makes for a very warm sock!

One of the Museum’s resident knitting pros, Conservator Hillary Anderson, recommends the book “Folk Socks: The History & Techniques of Handknitted Footwear” – available for perusing in the TMC’s reference library. Happy knitting!

See these socks in our online collection.

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