Knitters Den

Although the actual advent of knitting is still a mystery, and some think the middle-east to be the place of origin - Persia, Israel, Syria or Jordan. Spain is the site of the first dateable knitting, found in a tomb from 1275; the middle of the Dark-Ages. Writing surrounds many of the sock fragments, usually ‘Allah’. Much of Europe was illiterate at that time, whereas the middle-east had wide-spread literacy. The most common materials used were cotton and silk, lending the theory that this was the centre of activity. If developed in Europe then wool or linen may have been used.

The first knitting activity is thought to be Naalbinding (or Needlebinding), an ancient craft dating back to the stone-age. The craft was practiced in Scandanavia by the Vikings and predates knitting and crochet by about 2000 years. The fabric is made by using a single needle, made of wood or bone, and looks similar to true knitting and could be confused by anyone with no knowledge of needlework. These pictures are of Naalbinding and date back to the 300s.

A similar method was highly developed in Peru by the Nazca culture (100BC – 700AD) and used in the fringe of woven clothes. Using intricate colour changes they created animals and human figures. The earliest archaeological evidence of knitting was discovered in Egyptian tombs dating from 3rd to 6th centuries AD. The knitting was a ‘cross knit’, or single-needle knitting where the stitches are rotated by a half turn instead of aligning vertically.

It is not until the 14th Century that the first references to true knitting appeared in Europe - knitting in a round and then cut to create the necessary openings; purl was not heard of until the 16th century though could have been developed before that. Arabian sailors and merchants are thought to have spread knitting throughout Europe and the Mediterranean probably around the 5th century.

Knitting has come a long way since those days. It has passed through many phases over the years, being 'in fashion' and out again. Now, it seems, knitting is not only back in fashion but growing at a tremendous rate.

While knitting is an excellent past-time, it is also growing in reputation as a therapy and helping many people with pain management, depression, arthritis and many more health problems. Research is currently being undertaken in the United Kingdom on how knitting can re-vitalise the brain and activate new brain cell growth.


There are many websites containing knitting for beginners so I wont go into that area, but will concentrate on the more advanced techniques. Lace knitting is re-gaining attention and sock knitting has suddenly gone out of control with everyone in on the act. Yarn websites are springing up left, right and centre offering variegated sock yarns with that many choices, it becomes a challenge on whose site to buy from and what colours to choose.

Below I've added a basic sock pattern for 'beginner' sock knitters to try:

Skill Level: Intermediate

Materials: I x 100gram ball sock yarn. (Usually 75% wool/ 25% nylon for strength). Or other 4ply yarn

Needles: Size 2 (2.75 mm) double-pointed needles (set of 5)

SIZE: One Size
Adult Woman’s Medium (8 in. (20.5 cm) circumference), foot length is adjustable

28 sts + 40 rows = 4 in. (10 cm) in St st (k every stitch in the round; k on RS, p on WS when knitting back and forth). BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE. When you match the gauge in a pattern, your project will be the size specified in the pattern and the materials specified in the pattern will be sufficient. If it takes you fewer stitches and rows to make a 4 in. [10 cm] square, try using a smaller size hook or needles; if more stitches and rows, try a larger size hook or needles.

ssk (slip, slip, knit): Sl the next 2 sts as if to k, one at a time, to right needle. Insert left needle into fronts of these 2 sts and k them tog.
Holding the 2 needles parallel with wrong sides of fabric together, thread a blunt needle with yarn end and work as follows: Insert needle as if to purl into the first stitch on front piece. Insert needle as if to knit into the first stitch on the back piece. Then follow steps 1-4 below.
1) Insert needle as if to knit through the first st on the front needle and let the st drop from the needle.
2) Insert needle into the second st on the front needle as if to purl and pull the yarn through, leaving the st on the needle.
3) Insert needle into the first st on the back needle as if to purl and let the st drop from the needle, then
4) Insert needle as if to knit through the second st on the back needle and pull the yarn through, leaving the st on the needle. Rep 1-4 until all sts have been grafted. When finished, adjust tension as necessary.

SOCK (make 2)

Loosely cast on 64 sts. Divide sts evenly onto 4 double pointed needles.
Place marker and join, being careful not to twist sts. Work in K1, p1 rib for 1 in. (2.5 cm).
Work in St st in the rnd until piece measures 6 in. (15 cm) from beg.
Place last 32 sts on a holder for instep.
Heel flap (worked back and forth on 32 heel sts only)
Row 1: Sl 1, k across.
Row 2: Sl 1, p across.
Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until heel flap measures 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm), end with a Row 2.
Turn Heel
Row 1: K 19, ssk, k 1, turn.
Row 2: Sl 1, p 7, p2tog, p 1, turn.
Row 3: Sl 1, k 8, ssk, k 1, turn.
Row 4: Sl 1, p 9, p2tog, p 1, turn.
Row 5: Sl 1, k 10, ssk, k 1, turn.
Row 6: Sl 1, p 11, p2tog, p 1, turn.
Continue in this way, working 1 more st between dec until all 32 sts have been worked, end with a WS row - 20 sts for heel.
Next Rnd: K across heel sts, with same needle, pick up and k 19 sts along heel flap, with 2nd needle work across 16 sts of instep, with 3rd needle, work across 16 sts of instep, with 4th needle pick up and k 19 sts along heel flap, k across 10 heel sts - 90 sts. Beg of rnd is at center of heel sts.
Shape Gusset
Rnd 1: Knit.
Rnd 2: K to last 3 sts on 1st needle, k2tog, k1; k across instep sts; on 4th needle, k1, ssk, k to end of rnd.
Rep Rnds 1 and 2 until 64 sts rem.
Work even in St st until foot measures 7 1/2 in. (19.3 cm), or 2 in. (5 cm) less than desired total length.
Shape Toe
Rnd 1: K to last 3 sts on 1st needle, k2tog, k1, on 2nd needle k1, ssk, k to last 3 sts on 3rd needle, ssk, k1, on 4th needle, k1, k2tog, k to end of rnd.
Rnd 2: Knit.
Rep Rnds 1 and 2 until 20 sts rem. Divide remaining sts onto 2 needles and graft toe together.
Weave in ends.


When you become more experienced, many pattern designs can be added to create a very unique product. Colours can be used to enhance your socks, or use a variegated yarn - the choice is your's.

Have fun! 

pattern and picture courtesy of Lion Brand 


No comments:

Post a Comment