Thursday, 11 July 2013

Knit Sole

This pattern is from The Workwoman’s Guide by a Lady, London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., Stationer’s Hall Court: Thomas Evans, Colmore Row, Birmingham (1838.)

The pattern, which consists of three sentences, describes the sole as one “to be put within a shoe or a boot,” and “is made in double knitting.” No type of wool was recommended. I Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in Natural as it is sturdy and works well for reproductions. There is some guidance, however, in the number of stitches to be “set on” and the number of rows to be knit.

No needle type or size was suggested so I had to experiment to achieve any sort of sole above the size of an infant’s shoe. Finally settling on 6.5mm/US 10 ½ sized needles, this pair would fit in the shoes of young child, measuring just over 5 ½” long and about 2 ½” wide across the upper part of the foot. As with many patterns from the past, this one is probably a set of guidelines, and the experienced knitter would adapt it for the required size.

After knitting, the sole “must be brought into shape by taking it in with the galloon, when wanted to be narrowed.” I assisted this process by shaping my muslin soles. I also closed off the top of the foot with a drawstring. 

The last steps are sewing the sole to “ a piece of stiff muslin of the proper shape, and bound all round with ribbon.” 

An illustration for the sole appears on Plate 21, Figure 39 of the book.


Elliott Mason said...

I wonder if these were meant to improve fit/comfort, or to make a pair of shoes/boots warmer? Or, I suppose, to be a removable and separately-washable part, in cases where someone gets particularly sweaty and smelly in the sole area ...

=Tamar said...

My guess is that the sole was to increase the warmth of the shoe. People in the 19th century weren't so concerned about smells as we are.

One More Stitch said...

My guess is warmth, too.