One of my favorite articles of clothing this time of year happens to be socks, and today, they are a big fashion statement. When you search for socks on Amazon, you’ll find everything from your solid color basics to knee-highs printed with anything from pineapples to the Mona Lisa. Interestingly, socks have an intriguing history.
Socks have been around throughout most of human history but have undergone serious changes since they were created. The first socks ever mentioned in literature appear in Hesiod’s Works and Days, a poem about the survival of men. But these were not the socks one would see in stores in the 21st century. They were made from matted hair and fitted into the bottom of the wearer’s shoe or sandal.
A new method of sock creation were introduced years later—the knitting method. This method of making a sock predates that of the sewing method, which was introduced around 200 A.D. In the middle ages, trousers became longer, and socks became tighter and covered the lower part of the leg. Garters were required to hold up these socks since they had no elastic and oddly, no feet. Coverings for toes and feet were not introduced until after the 12th century and were more like modern leggings.
This hosiery, as it was called, became the trend, and the nobles of the era took socks in fashion to a new level. Aristocrats introduced tight-fitting, hand-knit silk stockings that became a must-have for the royal and wealthy alike across Europe. Eventually the type of sock and the way it was worn was deeply censored and strict rules were set.
Jumping forward in time, the invention of the loom ushered in a whole new era of mass sock production due to the industrial revolution. In 1938, production of socks was made easier by a manufacturing leap in the invention of nylon. Socks now had the ability to be produced using a mix of cotton and nylon to create a nice stretchy material.
Today, a wide variety of socks are available for purchase, from no-shows to knee highs in every color and shape imaginable. Socks have many sizes including ankle, crew, mid-calf, and knee-high lengths. There are also multiple types of sock materials made that make the sock super stretchy, light and airy, or warmer for colder weather. Some of these are: cotton, wool, cashmere, synthetics, and even silk. Due to its light weight and durability, cotton socks are good for warmer weather. You can also find wool and cashmere ones for a heavier and warmer sock. Silk is also a material used for socks, but these are pretty impractical and only worn on dressy occasions.
Clearly, socks are great feet warmers, but they can make hand warmers too! If you are into re purposing clothing, here’s an idea for how to recycle your beloved socks and turn them into hand warmers.
First, you’ll need a pair of socks, preferably with holes only at the heel and toe ends of the socks. Next, put them on your hands to get a feel of how they will look. The socks I used were knee-high, but it really doesn’t matter how big or long your socks are. When you know where you want to cut the socks to make the holes for your fingers and thumb, take a marker and draw an indicator so you don’t forget.
Next, cut along the lines you have drawn and stitch up any left-over holes. If you like decorating your work, try a bit of embroidering!
For this you will need a small embroidery hoop, a needle, and a different color thread from the color of your sock. Write what you want to stitch onto your sock as a guideline. I ended up cutting open my sock so I could use my embroidery hoop and then sewed it up afterwards.
In most cases, you can hide your stitches by sewing on the inside of the fabric instead of the outside. This will give the look of a finished embroidery project.
Other photographs by Bronywn Dix