Sunday, June 9, 2013

Welsh Stockings

Hello, are your feet warm?

Why yes, I went on a trip last month...I was lucky to be able to join Joyce James, fiber-purchase-agent- provocateuse on her journey to Wales, along with 13 intrepid fiber loving companions, one brave husband, and an intrepid coach driver. (In case you don't know, "coach" is UK and Canadian speak for "bus.")

The first post that I am inspired to do is on traditional knitting in Wales, of which, I don't believe, there is a tremendous history for my first interest...shawls.  I didn't happen upon any, although that's certainly not to says that shawl knitting didn't happen in times past in Wales.  If I were interested in hats, there is a knitted hat that supposedly originated in Wales, the "Monmouth Cap."  

 However, the  Welsh were well known for knitted socks or "stockings." Here is a lovely painting by William Dyce entitled "Welsh landscape with two women knitting" from 1860.

A bit of internet research turned up information from a museum that we visited,  Ceredigion Museum in Aberstwyth. This was a fascinating place, full of treasures from the past and located in a repurposed Edwardian era cinema.   Some highlights regarding socks from the this web page include:

Funeral stockings were commonly knit, very sweet with with bereaved's name knit into the stocking. 

Further digging at this website revealed another fascinating read by a woman named Sara Minwel Tibbott who was a writer and collector of information about domestic crafts The link is here. After more internet research (which I've decided that I might be kind of good at...) I discovered that the link is a chapter  excerpt from Sara's book,  entitled Domestic Life in Wales, which is a sweet read on daily domestic life in pre and just post industrial Wales. 

According to Sara, during the 18th and 19th centuries, knitting stockings (socks) were an important and sometimes (for single women) a primary income in households. Most women and many men when not doing other work had knitting in their hands.  Socks were then sold to individuals and at fairs, often to "stocking men" who then took their purchases to London.

Stockings used natural white at the top (the "welt") and toe. Colored or dyed yarn was used for the body of the stocking. Blue grey from the home dyepot was for men, women wore black stockings.

This cottage industry was outdated by the mid nineteenth century when the railroad allowed quick transport of stockings and other knitted goods from the factories in England and Scotland throughout the UK, although of course home knitting lived on.

So of course, all of this left me in search of a pattern.

Here is a  photo of  Nancy Bush's "Welsh Stockings" and the Rav link to it below!  I plan to adapt a sock pattern to this color scheme...


  1. Oh how fabulous!!! I cannot wait to see and hear more about your trip :-)

  2. Fascinating post and I shall go back and look through your links. Funeral stockings..bizarre!

    I'll be with the tour group next month to Scotland. Lots of reading in preparation.

    Two years ago I was with a tour to Wales and fell in love with it.

    PS ...I'm a new follower.

  3. Thanks, Nancy! Have a lovely time in changed my (knitting) life! Thanks for following!