This week I finally got my copy of Barb Brown’s book Knitting Knee-Highs. Amazon had lost my pre-order…!
There are some lovely designs in the book. All are very well illustrated showing what a knitter wants to know, like where the shaping is and details of the construction. Each pattern is shown as the long sock, and most of them can be knitted as short socks if preferred. And best of all, three different sizes are given!
Barb starts the book with a section on how to adapt the pattern for longer and short legs, and what she calls shapely legs! As well as the ‘arithmetic’ method she gives useful rules of thumb about how and how much you can alter the pattern without having to change it – things like increasing needle size as you go up the leg rather than adding stitches.
Texture, lace and colourwork all feature, with the colourwork designs being the best in my opinion! Barb makes good use of colour, with several very effective designs using just two colours – not many ends to deal with!! In many of the designs the leg shaping is done in panels up the sides, rather than at the back. This means that the patterns can continue from the ankle up the front and back – much easier and very pretty at the same time.
The book arrived just as I was preparing for a couple of talks I have in the next couple of weeks. And just as I was looking at the long socks worn by everyone in the Nineteenth and the first half of the Twentieth Centuries up this way. School photos are invaluable when looking at the type of leg wear – shorts trousers and pinafores, along with the way kids sit regardless of modesty, mean that not only the legs are seen, but the different tops.
The stockings worn every day by both sexes and all ages are usually forms of ribs. (On Sundays the older girls and women would aspire to a lacy pair.) As garters were used to keep the stockings up, they had turnovers at the top to hide the garters. And these stocking tops were usually decorated, either with bits of colourwork or texture.
One interesting aside that becomes apparent looking at many pix, is that boys have never been good at matching socks. They are often pictured in odd ones…
And what did they do with those long legs once the foot was beyond darning? Arm warmers were not a new idea in the 1980s…