I need a pair of proper stockings to wear at the heritage village when I'm working there. It's not that anyone ever sees my stockings but having some of the little costume details, does help me to get the right feeling to start the day on site. I'd been looking for knitted stocking patterns online. I 'd found lots of photos of extant socks and stockings, mainly cotton or silk and machine knit. Finally, after who knows how long of wandering aimlessly amongst pictures and patterns online, I found Digital Resources from the Knitting Reference Library . Who knew there was Knitting Reference Library or that it was on line?
There are all sorts of 19th C. downloadable books on knitting, crochet and needlework. On my first visit there, I found the 1865 edition of Miss E. Ryder's booklet "How to Knit Stockings" : this packet contains general rules for knitting stockings, ladies'
ribbed stockings, gentlemen's knickerbocker stockings, boys stockings. The pages within, give guidelines for knitting socks and stockings. It does refer to an earlier publication for details, but there was enough information for me to make an attempt. I did some changes. The original just calls for decreases down the centre back but I added a cable for interest. A knee sock is a long sock and that is a lot of knitting. Adding the cable, also added a bit of extra time, but it added enough interest to get through the plain ribbing from knee to ankle. The original also states to use a 3 - 1 ribbing pattern, which was easy to do.
On a later visit to the Knitting Reference Library website, I found a copy of the first book, though published at a later date (1870), How to Knit socks:full and simple directions by which persons may teach themselves, also by Miss E. Ryder. As well, there is The Stocking-Knitters Manual: a handy book for the worktable, written by Mrs. Geo. Cupples, although I haven't set aside time yet to read this one.
Let me tell you that there sure is a lot of knitting in a knee sock! It seems like it's taking forever. I'm finally half done the foot of the first sock. Phew... At this rate, I might have them done by next Christmas.
Sock yarn is Mary Maxim Simply Sock. It was almost solid, the closest thing to black or brown that they had that wasn't over the top expensive for an experiment. Hind sight being what it is, I now wish I'd bought a better brand of sock yarn as this has a few unevenly spun areas and just isn't horribly pleasing to knit with. The finished sock is acceptably nice though, so I guess that's what really matters in the end.