History tells us that William Lee, the inventor of the first knitting machine, had at one time a little shop in Bunhill Row, London, and here he received a visit from Queen Elizabeth in 1589.

Lee’s machine was worked by the hands and feet. Today, stockings are made on machines operated by power, but the basic principle of knitting on these frames is practically unchanged since Lee’s day. His foundations were eventually built upon by others, one idea begetting another, so that today we have modern machines of precision, and where Lee’s machine could produce 600 loops only in a minute (varying somewhat according to the number of needles used), today 1,209,600 loops are knitted in one minute by the average machine.

Figs. 11 and 12 show types of the latest machines used today. Machines contain up to 32 sections, each section having its own needle-bar for each stocking, so that up to 32 stockings can be knitted at the same time, or separately.

Women’s stockings are produced in three types:-

   1. Fully-fashioned, with French foot.

   2. Fully-fashioned, with English foot.

   3. Seamless.

The French foot type, having the seam under the foot, is the most popular because of the prevailing styles of shoes worn, i.e., low-cut shoe, sandal type, open-shank sandal type. The English foot style of hose has no seam under the foot, but has two seams, one at each side of the foot, which fact detracts from the popularity of this style of hose, the seams being revealed when any of the above types of shoes are worn. The seamless stocking, having no seam in the foot, can be worn with any type of shoe


Under-hose in wool, and dyed flesh pink, give added warmth and are very popular with elderly women.

Various wool mixtures are also produced, the yarn being spun in a mixture form. Also, by the twisting together of wool and another fibre, pleasing speckled effects can be obtained.