A Knitted Sock from Godey’s Lady’s Book, Vol. LXV

Hello there! I’m glad to see you’ve found my blog. As you can probably surmise, this is my first ever post (I know; how exciting!). I will be perfectly honest – starting a new blog is quite a massive undertaking, or at least it appears to be. But, as Lao Tzu put it, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” So, without further ado, let’s begin with a pedestrian-related article: a knitted sock pattern from Godey’s Lady’s Book.

If you’ve explored the wide and variegated world of historical fashions, you’ve likely encountered this publication. Fortunately for us, all editions are now in the public domain and can be easily found on Google Books or Project Gutenberg. Godey’s Lady’s Book was a wildly popular magazine which was sent by mail semiannually, and, per the title, was directed towards domestic women. Its publication ran from 1830 to 1898, reaching its zenith in the 1850s and 1860s. Each Godey’s Magazine provided women with instruction for a myriad of interests. Sheet music, poetry, serials, “receipts” (an old term for what are essentially recipes), illustrations of the latest Parisian styles, and health advice, among other things, were all included. However, one of the most popular sections of the magazine was the “Work-Department”, which included directions for handicrafts such as sewing, embroidery, crochet, and knitting, the last of which is our topic today.

With the winter months upon us, one of the most comforting pieces of clothing can be a nice, warm pair of socks. It seems that the writers of Godey’s Lady’s Book were in agreement. In their July to December 1862 issue, they published the following pattern:

The description below, “Knit the foot of the sock in ribbed stitch, and the top in an open fancy stitch.” is the entirety of the information provided, which is enough to make the modern knitter balk. Also, I am relatively certain that whoever created this illustration was not a knitter themself, because other than at the cuff, there are none of the characteristic “v”s or dashes which attribute a knit or purl stitch. Nevertheless, I decided to try to make some sense out of the pattern. I now present to you its modern translation.

Supplies

1 skein worsted weight yarn, approximately 220 yards
(I used 1 ball of Berroco Ultra Wool and had just enough to finish the pair)
Set of 4 double point needles, US 7 / UK 3.5
Scissors and darning needle for finishing

Abbreviations

k = knit
p = purl
k1b = knit one in row below
sl = slip
ssk = slip slip knit
k2tog = knit two together
N1, N2, and N3: Needle 1, 2, and 3, etc.

Instructions

Cast on 42.

Cuff
Row 1: Purl all stitches
Row 2: *k1b, p1* to end
Repeat these two rows a total of 12 times (24 rows)

Leg
Row 1: *k1, p1* to end
Repeat this row a total of 13 times

Heel Flap
Row 1: sl1, *p1, k1* 10 times (21 stitches). Turn work.
Row 2: sl1, *k1, p1* 10 times (21 stitches). Turn work.
Repeat these two rows 6 more times (a total of 14 rows) or adjust to better
fit you. It should reach the end of your heel. 

Turning the Heel
Row 1: sl1, *p1, k1* 5 times, p1, ssk, k1. Turn work.
Row 2: sl1, *p1, k1* 2 times, p2tog, p1. Turn work.
Row 3: sl1, *k1, p1* 2 times, k1, ssk, k1. Turn work.
Row 4: sl1, *k1, p1* 3 times, p2tog, p1. Turn work.
Row 5: sl1, p1, *k1, p1* 3 times, ssk, k1. Turn work.
Row 6: sl1, *p1, k1* 4 times, p2tog, p1. Turn work.
Row 7: sl1, *k1, p1* 4 times, k1, ssk, k1. Turn work.
Row 8: sl1, *k1, p1* 5 times, p2 tog, k1. Turn work. 13 stitches remain.

Gusset
Set-up round: sl1, *p1, k1* 6 times. Pick up 8 st, work across top of foot in
rib, pick up 8 st. *k1, p1* 3 times. This is the new start of your round.
Needles should now be arranged as such: N1: 15 st, N2: 21 st, N3: 14 st

Row 1: Work in rib, following the stitch below (k=k, p=p)
Row 2: N1: Work in rib to last 2 st, k2tog. N2: Work in rib. N3: ssk, work in
rib to end
Repeat these two rows 4 times (42 st remain) 

Foot
Work in rib until 1.5 inches before tip of toe.

Toe
Row 1: N1: Work in rib to last 2 st, k2tog. N2: p1, ssk, work in rib to last 3 st,
k2tog, p1. N3: ssk, work in rib to end of round.
Row 2: Work in rib, following the pattern of the stitch below (k=k, p=p)
Repeat these two rows a total of 4 times (26 st remain).
Then work just Row 1 a total of 4 times (10 st remain).
Draw yarn through the stitches and weave in ends. Repeat for second sock.

If you’re interested in looking at the entire issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book, click here

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