Friday, July 30, 2010

Museum socks

I had a great score while I was out being touristy yesterday: a sock exhibit at the shoe museum!

My first thought: how were old socks constructed compared to now? Well, this 17th century possibly Spanish pair is a little weird. It's got a horizontal seam across the sole where the heel starts, and what looks like a double seam up the back on either side of the gold pattern. Maybe those seams allowed the gold parts to be worked flat?

These ones from 19th century Croatia have what looks like an afterthought heel and a conventional toe:

Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems as though they also have a decrease line coming across the top of the foot.

This blue stocking (geddit?) is from mid-18th century England:

I'm thinking this is a cool way to dress up socks to wear with your heels. But would anybody see all that detail under those long dresses, even when you sat down? Talk about luxury. Ditto these, also from England, but late 19th century.

Love those shoes.

Now, these socks are a lot more ordinary - mid 19th century American:

They're constructed a lot more like the style you see today, but they were made on a knitting machine:

Yes! I'd read about the introduction of these time-saving machines but never seen one. Let's take a closer look.

Even with the access to a machine to do all the droney work, though, it's clear that knitters have always loved to customize their projects:

Later of course, socks stopped being such a handmade enterprise and by the time WWII came along, the home front had to be downright utilitarian about them:

I actually own (ed?) a pair of saddle shoes - early 1990s Laura Ashleys - and I wore them just this way. Loved them! But I can see now they are a far cry from the cool stuff those English ladies had.

And now I want to get back to my variegated socks. But not Man Socks. I'm still mad at them!


Kathleen Taylor said...

I'll bet it was pretty exciting to get a glimpse of an embellished ankle back in the day.

I still love saddle shoes- it took me forever to find some, but I have 3 pairs now that I wear in the winter (I bought them big enough to wear with hand knit socks).

Anonymous said...

I realize this was posted some time ago, but just in case you happen to be interested, the Croatian socks were most likely started from the toe up (my eyes aren't quite good enough anymore to tell for sure) and that line you see across the front of the foot is actually one of the places where the foot was increased in what is called a swirl toe.

Great blog!