By Lisa Terech, Community Engagement
Those who know me know that I’m an avid knitter. I started the hobby three years ago, am largely self-taught (thank you YouTube!), and I absolutely adore it. There is something so satisfying about creating something with a piece of string and two needles.
Knowing my affinity for the craft, my interest was piqued when I stumbled across a sock pattern in the Ontario Reformer from September 3, 1915. Simply titled “Directions for Making Socks,” I knew this was a pattern I would love to try! As this sock pattern appeared in the newspaper while World War I was happening, it is very likely this pattern was published to encourage to homefront to make these socks and send them overseas to soldiers.
Before starting this project, I was still very much a sock newbie; I had only made one pair of socks previously. However I was up to the challenge. I’m always trying new techniques and bigger and better patterns. How else is one to learn?
While making the sock, I found two things particularly challenging: the wording/language and my patience (or lack thereof!). Patience is not a virtue I possess, especially when it comes to knitting. I love bulky yarn and short patterns and the immediate satisfaction that comes from quickly completing a project. The first step of the sock was ribbing (Knit 2, Purl 1 repeat) for 12 inches. Twelve inches! I estimated that my average time for knitting an inch while ribbing was about 1 inch/hour. Knitting the leg alone was a test of my dedication to this sock. The foot was also a test, knitting ‘plain’ (knit stitch around) for eight inches. I am faster with just an knit stitch, but it can be rather boring work.
The language was also challenging. I found some of the terms slightly hard to follow, and right before I turned the heel, I called my grandmother and asked her advice on what the pattern was asking!
On and off, I was working on this sock for 7 weeks. It would have been done faster if it was the only project I was working on, but I have to have a few things going to keep me engaged.
During the First World War, Oshawa’s 116th Knitting Society was busy making socks for the men at the front; the Ontario Reformer in December 1917 reported the Knitting Society sent 56 pairs to France. If the socks were anything like the one I made, then I commend the members of the Knitting Society, and I’m sure they were much appreciated by the soldiers.
Directions for Making Socks, Ontario Reformer, Sept 3, 1915
Cast on 72 stitches; divide among your DPNs (I used 3: 18 sts, 36 sts, 18 sts), join, and knit rib (K2, P1) until the leg measured 12”.
Once 12”, knit to the needle with 36 sts – work these 36 sts plain (WS), and K1 S1 (RS) until it is 2 1/2” long.
Transfer instep sts to one needle; divide heel stitches among 3 needles, 12 sts on each – knit the 12 stitches on the first needle then follow heel shape instructions:
* keep 12 sts on middle needle:
RS slip one stitch from side needle & k2tog, k10, slip 1 st from side needle and k2tog (11 sts, 12 sts, 11sts on the three needles);
WS: knit the 12 middle needle sts
* cont working 12 middle needle sts in this mannor until each side needle has 1 st each (14 sts total) – slip those 2 side needle sts to the middle needle
Pick up and knit 16 sts along heel side – knit across 36 sts – pick up and knit 16 sts from opposite heel side – divide sts among 3 needles (82 sts total – 24 on needle 1, 34 instep stson needle 2, 24 on needle 3)
Needle 1: knit to last 4 sts; k2tog, k2
Needle 2: knit
Needle 3: k2, ssk, knit to end Next round: knit -Repeat these two rounds until 68 sts total
Knit plain until foot measures 8 inches;
Decrease for toe:
First round: k6, k2tog, rep to last 4 sts which are knit
Next 5 rounds: knit plain
Next row: k5, k2tog, rep to last 4 sts which are knit
Next row: k4, k2tog, rep to last 4 sts which are knit
Next row: k3, k2tog, rep to last 4 sts which are knit
Next row: k2, k2tog, rep around
Next row: k1, k2tog, rep around
Next row: k2tog, rep around – 9 sts remain
Break yarn, leaving a tail. Draw through the stitches (I drew through 3 times) and fasten with a darning needle.