are pliable and can be bent to form loops without breaking, because—unfortunately—the knitted loop has this disadvantage, that when the fabric is stretched, a broken thread easily draws through a number of loops, causing what all women know as a ”run“ or ”ladder“ in the stocking. The illustration (Fig. 2) explains pictorially the difference between courses and wales, when referred to in a knitted fabric. The wales are the loops going in an upright direction. The courses are the loops which run horizontally.
STOCKINGS—HAVE A HISTORY
Behind every pair of stockings sold over the counter there is a pedigree which dates back, not only to the first knitting machine made, but to primitive men and women who decided they must have some protective clothing for their legs. William Felkin states, “There is no historic mention of the art of knitting till the time of Henry IV. It was first named in an Act of Parliament of Henry VII., and in several following Acts, knit hose, caps, and also hosiers were mentioned. Henry VIII. wore knitted silk Spanish hose, and Elizabeth wore a pair of English hand-knitted silk stockings.”
It is fair, therefore, to draw the conclusion that up to the periods mentioned, no-one in England—from King to humblest peasant—had anything better than woven cloth stockings.
Harrison, writing during the time of Queen Elizabeth, gives the impression that knitting came to this country from Spain. “At this period a change of dress was brought in by the Spaniards, several features being the ruff, or loose collar, a fanlike structure of lace or lawn upheld by wires overtopping the fantastically-dressed hair; equally ridiculous was the hoop, or farthingale, and men’s dress followed suit, though with less extravagance. They now wore trunk-hose, and beneath them curiously wrought stockings.”
Knitting might possibly have been introduced from Italy, because it was now a part of every scholar's education to visit Italy, whence they brought back both ideas for dress, and artistic intellectual tastes. Later, Italian influence and dress was strong in every department of Elizabethan life.