In the 1500s, no self-respecting man was without at least two pairs of hand knitted stockings in his wardrobe.

(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!

When doing two successive decreases (like for mitten tops or sock toes)

  1. Make the first decrease a “slip, slip, knit” (SSK) – this makes the stitch lean to the left.
  2. Follow it with a “knit two together” (K2TOG) – this makes the stitch lean to the right.

Thus, the stitches will lean against each other and help close the gap that can appear between successive decreases.

Adapt the order of the decreases if you are decreasing at the beginning and end of a round:

  1. K2TOG the first stitch (leans to the right)
  2. SSK the last stitch (leans to the left)

Basically, when looking at the piece you want the left side stitch to lean right and the right side stitch to lean left.

This technique can be used to create a scallop pattern:

Chevron Towel (click through for pattern) I made one a few months back. This is a great way to use up odd ends.

Knittinghelp.com is a great source for learning about decreases and increases.

Plastic beading needles would make perfect darning needles

– and are cheap enough to share with friends.

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Debbie Stoller yarns now at Michaels!

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The first items in a layette I’m making.

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Setzer Goods “socks” gift wrap

100% post consumer recycled paper, printed with vegetable based inks

I can’t help but want to wrap socks in this.

Somebody’s getting new socks.

It’s not me, but I had to try them on. I’m so proud to finally finish!