These stockings have been finished for some time, awaiting the photographs, for which it has been a sort of ready/not-ready comedy -- David is out of the country, David's home but I'm sick, it's just too hot to even think about wool, the bathroom tap exploded, etc. etc. etc. -- so at last here they are!
After some internal debate about wools back in January, I chose Regia 4-ply, since I've used it before (on my Spey Valley socks) and those have pilled a little at the heels but are still in very good shape after over six years! This color is Grey Heather (no.1991), which seemed to be a good "natural wool" shade, and goes well with the rest of David's Faire clothes. I like the grey-sheepy homespun look of it, and the color is lovely.
These stockings took ages to knit as not only are David's legs quite impressive, but I miscalculated any number of times and had to rip the first stocking back (and occasionally out) in annoyance, and he was away on multiple business trips for so long that I didn't want to risk "hoping it would fit". But of course once the first one was done and I knew it was all right, all I had to do was make the second one exactly like it! (As it turned out, one was still a bit longer than the other when he put them on, but this must be due to the wool -- humor me, here -- since there really are exactly the same number of rows in each stocking.)
I liked the welt on the Carnamoyle re-creation by Lady Angharad Rhos ferch Rhain (Allison Sarnoff) so I started with that, although as it turned out the finished welt contracts so much that you can hardly tell that it isn't just reverse stockinette. Because my math skills are mortifyingly bad, I depended heavily for the leg shaping on basic advice about stockings from Elizabeth Zimmerman's The Knitter's Almanac with specific math from the calculator at Let's Get Knitting.
I was very taken with this stocking foot now in the Museum of London (no.A13833), which I mentioned when I was planning these stockings at the beginning of the year. I had already decided on the so-called "Barnim" foot, with its inverted gusset on the sole and then thought that it wouldn't be much of a step from the Barnim foot to this one, so I decided to follow the Cheapside lead, as it were. The Museum writes that this foot is "the only example of its kind in England" and I can believe that, for I've not seen anything like it on historical-costume blogs, so I'm tentatively dating it, as the Museum does, "mid-16th century" with the stricture that it is "unusual" and therefore probably expensive (i.e. upper-class if not higher), though my version is considerably rougher than the original.
So in keeping with the idea that knitters in the past would probably have borrowed ideas from the finished garments of other knitters and not from patterns as such, and therefore could also have stood in front of a Cheapside stocking-maker's window and said to themselves, "Fifteen shillings! Marry, I can make something much the same for a pittance, and from good English wool!" -- here is the Cheapside foot.
I am putting my first version of this foot pattern on a separate page, for other historical knitters to make suggestions on and, if I'm lucky, possibly knit and make suggestions for improvements. I will admit up front, though, that the at-the-same-time shapings for sole gusset and instep gusset really defeated me, what with balancing different rates of converging increases and decreases, which occasionally came together with a whacking great clump. As it turned out, I had to write down the instructions in a Word table with separate columns for the two gussets, so that I could keep them straight, and check rounds off one by one -- I did manage to get this into a fairly logical pattern-style format, but it was a lot to keep track of, so knitter beware. The bright side was that I am positive that both stockings are knit exactly the same!
The decreases at the side of the heel flap, which are fairly clear in the Museum's photograph, are very elegant, so this variation has been incorporated here along with the garter edging, into the shaped common heel. Unfortunately, the original heel of the Museum of London stocking seems to have disintegrated at the back, so it's impossible to tell, from the photograph at least, if it was straight or shaped, but certainly the shaped one is more comfortable and handsome.
I did err on the side of caution with the length of the sole gusset, and it is obviously considerably shorter than the original, but I'm not sure if I could have done it reasonably at this much-larger gauge anyway -- mine is 28 sts to 10cm, vs. an amazing 72 on the original (!!). I started the "first draft" with the decreases further apart, but it just didn't look good. The original sole gusset clearly continues pretty much all of the way to the point of the toe, whereas mine peters out about two-thirds of the way there -- this could certainly be "corrected" for a shorter foot, by simply using the same rates of shaping on the sole gusset, which would go farther on a shorter foot.
The garters are simply 7-stitch strips of garter stitch, about 34 in. long unstretched. They stretch quite a lot, even when wrapped not especially tightly.
The details --
The Project: a pair of man's stockings, with garters
Year or Period: 17th century, possibly mid-16th
Materials: most of 5 balls of Regia 4-fädig Uni in color 1991 (Grey Heather)
Hours to complete: about two months
How historically accurate is it? the modern sock yarn is obviously not period, and I suspect that the shaping is more towards the end of the century than the beginning, but for that it is fairly accurate
Sources/Documentation: the extant silk stocking foot at the Museum of London thought to be from Cheapside (museum no.A13833), with modifications of the shaped common heel per Nancy Bush in Folk Socks, and of the "Barnim foot" as outlined by Anne DesMoines in her “Barnim-Style Stockings” in Knitting Traditions magazine, Spring 2014 issue
Knitting instructions for the Cheapside foot are here.