by Linda, Everett Public Library staff
The Kitchener stitch used in seamless knitting was designed by Lord Kitchener, a British military hero of the Boer War and WWI, to keep the toes of socks from irritating his soldier’s feet. I found this information on page 91 in the book The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square.
Ghosts of the Empire: Britain’s Legacies in the Modern World by Kwasi Kwarteng has a chapter that talks about Lord Kitchener. It begins: “Perhaps no figure represented the British Empire at its late Victorian zenith better than Lord Kitchener. Even today, his image is familiar because of the most famous poster campaigns of all time, in which the caption reads ‘Your Country Needs You’….” Although I learned a lot about his military career, it did not talk about him knitting, or having socks made for the soldiers.
The Kitchener stitch is mostly used in knitting socks and underarms of sweaters. Sometimes in patterns they use the term “graft” instead of “Kitchener stitch”, this is the case in the book Socks to Knit for Those You Love by Edie Eckman. Knitters who make socks know about the dreaded ‘second sock syndrome’ (where you just can’t make yourself start the second sock) and as a solution to this problem, there is now a big trend in making socks two at a time so matching is no longer an issue, as in 2-at-a-Time Socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. Making them from the toe up eliminates the need for the graft at the toe, as Knitting More Circles Around Socks by Antje Gillingham teaches you to do.
If you think that you can’t knit, and would just end up with a tangle, perhaps you should take a look at Why Knot? by Philippe Petit and just learn to tie knots instead. He shows how to tie more than 60 different knots, with easy directions and practical uses for each one.
Good foot care is very important, especially if you are diabetic. 21 Things You Need to Know about Diabetes and your Feet by Neil M Scheffler, DPM, FACFAS tells us that there are now socks with a copper or silver weave that helps prevent bacteria and fungus from growing (example: athletes foot). Also your socks should not be too tight. The best design has no seams, so the socks will not cause an ulcer in the skin where they rub.
Socks are educational too! There are sorting and counting songs, such as “Sorting Socks” a song on the MathJam. K Music CD by Judy &David to play for your little ones.