Saturday, 29 November 2014

How to Knit Sock Heels

From the Manchester Courier, 28th November 1914. 


Now that most of us are spending the winter evenings knitting comforts  for our gallant soldiers who are fighting for us on the Continent, it may be useful to give a few hints on the gusset heel which is recommended to stocking knitters by an expert, because it is not a blistering pattern, and is eminently suitable for men on the march.  To make the gusset heel:

Divide the stitches in half, leave one half on two needles for front of foot, with the other half knit 3 inches for back of heel, one row plain and one purl alternately, remembering to slip the first stitch of each row.  Now in plain row, if you have 36 stitches, knit 21 (i.e., 3 more than half), slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, knit 1, turn, slip 1, purl 7, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn.  Slip 1, knit 8, slip 1, knit 1, pass slipped stitch over, knit 1, turn.  Slip 1, purl 9, purl 2 together, purl 1, turn.

Continue thus, taking 2 fresh stitches each time, till you have used all the stitches, pick up the side stitches, and knit the foot as usual.

All wool should be scalded with boiling water before winding, to remove the loose dye and shrink the wool.  Do not knit a seam stitch.  Do not make knots, knots make blisters; to join on fresh yarn lay the two ends together and knit four or five stitches with double yarn.

[Another terse and obscure set of sock-knitting instructions.  I've been trying to visualise how the heel works, but it's hard to do without actually knitting it - and I don't know what 'pick up side stitches' means.  Where from? How many?  What do you do next?  But if you were an experienced sock knitter, who would know how to 'knit the foot as usual', perhaps it would make sense.  

The recommendation to scald wool before starting to knit is interesting - if it was essential to do that, why didn't the spinners do it?  It would be much easier to add an extra step onto the manufacturing process than to oblige every knitter to do it themselves.]   

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