Knit Your Bit
Let’s talk socks. I love knitting socks. They are easy to knit, relaxing to knit, efficient to knit, and convenient to knit. I carry around a pair of socks with me everywhere. I knit them while chatting with friends, while riding shotgun, while sitting in a movie theater, and even while walking down the street. And I am not the only one. Once upon a time, knitting was a necessary task in the daily lives of (primarily) women. Every spare moment was taken up by creating needed garments for loved ones. Including while walking with your friends.
My love affair with socks started off innocently enough. I just wanted to take on a challenge, but instead I fell in love. My first pair was terrible, my second “pair” stayed single, my third pair didn’t fit, but by my fourth pair I realized that this was kind of easy. And boy howdy, was that fourth pair the charm.
While knitting that fourth pair, I realized that there were multiple ways to knit the heel flap and turn, and after that I would knit my favorite heel into any pair I encountered. By simply adjusting other peoples’ works, I started the first step towards writing my own patterns. Every subsequent sock I knit, no matter what the original pattern states, has at least my preferred heel turn, if not my preferred style of heel flap, gusset, and toe closure. I will boldly and blatantly disregard a pattern and supplant my own style into almost any knitting project at this point. And why not? I’m the one wearing or gifting this piece. I’m the one who puts my heart into every stitch. And I’m the one who undoes the stitches when I find a flaw.
So naturally, I progressed in my knitting, so much so that I barely looked at patterns at all anymore. By about the tenth pair I had made for my own feet, a particular gentleman decided his feet were being ignored. But, the only pattern I knew was to perfectly fit a pair of woolen love to my size 8.5’s, not the size 13 boats he called feet. Being a domestic history buff, I looked to our collected wisdom of vintage women's magazines to provide me with a simple, tried and tested men's sock pattern.
During the World Wars, everyone on the home front was encouraged to knit for the troops. Women, children, and men. To facilitate this high demand for goods that were desperately needed, many magazines and leaflets were available with patterns to make things fit for a soldier. All the patterns were simple, plain, neutral, and (mostly) man-sized, which suited my needs absolutely impeccably. After tooling around for a little bit trying to find a pattern that would fit his feet, I stumbled upon a pattern in Modern Priscilla Magazine from WWI era that was later redistributed by the Red Cross during WWII. These would fit his feet and be unfussy (as many of my pairs tend to be a bit elaborate). Perfection. But, being myself, I adjusted as I desired to suit my preferences.
So here lies my pattern before you. First found whole, then adjusted to suit my fancy, and finally adapted for different sized feet. Oh, and feel free to fiddle with and adjust my pattern to your preferences. This is your art now.
Soda City Knits to Victory
Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor Columbia Girl Scout Troop 6 ran out of wool yarn. Not only was there a shortage of wool nationwide but the girls had so much pride in their efforts to knit afghans for the Red Cross that “their busy fingers knit faster than their money adds.”
Knitting, it turned out, was a popular way for Columbians, not at the European front, to do their bit for the national defense. Mrs. Christie Benet supervised 98 knitting volunteers at the Red Cross Richland County production headquarters at 1106 Barnwell St. At the headquarters, free yarn was issued to volunteers and they purled away to produce socks, wrist warmers, mufflers, and watch caps. In one year Richland County volunteer knitters compiled 3,112 knitted garments!