(I learned that at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.) In fact, stocking knitting is what democratized knitting. Everybody needs socks! And knitting is especially perfect for socks because it is uniquely stretchy in comparison to other fabrics. Read this Knitty article. I believe knitting at least one pair of socks is a knitter-ly duty.
Below is a fine pair of stockings from the collection at the Heinz History Center. I love everything about this design. The fancy, scalloped cuff; the rich white and red; the way the pattern converts into stripes at the heel and toe (sock knitters will see why this is a necessity); the mismatched decreases at the toes (I keep telling people the mismatched socks and mittens I give them are super custom!). The obvious care the owner took with these stockings shows how special they were. The body appears to be knitted in entrelac, a technique I have not yet tried. I would love to knit a pair like this.
On second thought, LOOK AT THAT GAUGE!!!
I don’t think I could find yarn and needles to match this gauge. Knitters certainly have it easier today!