Some facts from the history of socks

Socks are such a common wardrobe item that we don’t think about where they came from or who invented them. Most of all, we are worried about the question – where is the second sock from the pair and why do they magically disappear inside the washing machine?

Unfortunately, we cannot find the answers to all these questions – but we can learn something about the origin of socks. Some kind of socks appeared in ancient times. The cavemen wrapped their feet with leather and leaves, and this was the prototype of socks. The ancient Greeks were more advanced in the matters of clothes; they wore socks that were made from animal hair and could remind us of the Ugg boots.

The first form of modern socks was knitted socks. We can’t say for sure who made the first knitted socks as knitting materials are not durable, but the earliest ones were found in Egypt and date from AD 300 to 499. They were bright red with two toes to wear sandals. If you want to take a look at really old socks, you can still find them at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK.

In Scandinavia during the Viking Age, a technique of needle knitting was practiced. It was a time-consuming form of creating a cloth with a wooden or bone needle. Archaeological finds of fragments of things made in this technique from England, Finland, Germany, Norway, and Russia date back to the X-XI centuries. There are about thirty ways of knitting with a needle. Only small items (such as gloves or headbands) made with this technique were found. Scientists explain this by the fact that knitting with a needle is a rather slow process. It was successfully used for socks knitting as well.

In the 16th century, knitting of stockings was widespread in Spain, when the fashion for knitted gloves appeared. The first knitters’ guild was established in Paris in 1527. The stocking knitting machine was invented in England by the priest William Lee in 1589. Initially, it did not become widely spread since the thick knitting needles made the fabric rough. The technology of that time did not make it possible to use thin knitting needles in this machine.

Over the next centuries, socks changed styles, sizes and appearance. In the 16th century, cotton became the preferred material for socks, and human feet became less sweaty. By the 19th century, most socks were made on looms, and hand-knitted socks went out of fashion.

And then the most incredible thing in the history of socks happened in 1938, when nylon (a group of synthetic polyamides) was invented. Nylon is durable, stretchy, lightweight and comparatively cheap. Mix this with wool or cotton and voila – you have the most suitable socks! Then other materials came along, such as polyester, spandex and others, but polyamide socks are still one of the most popular options.

Now there are numerous types of socks for any taste. There are socks for different age and seasons, they can differ in material and design. You can find socks with different slogans, famous works of art, or popular memes. There are special socks for different kinds of sports and other activities – and all of them are presented here at! And what kind of socks do you like to wear?

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