Knitting the panel or leg of the stocking

Knitting the panel or leg of the stocking

50 feet long and constructed entirely of metal, could expand and contract with a rise and fall in temperature. There are many thousands of moving parts in each machine and the whole equipment of the knitting workshop could rapidly be disorganised if variations of temperature were permitted.

A modern fully-fashioned stocking knitting machine is usually designed to make up to 32 stockings at a time. Each stocking is knitted on a needle bar. A needle bar is approximately 14" wide. The whole machine will weight about 15 tons. It is constructed of, literally, thousands of components and is so complicated that years of training are required before a man is considered fully competent as a stocking knitter.

It may be of interest at this point to explain that fully-fashioned stockings are invariably knitted by men, although other operations following the knitting are usually carried out by women.

All the knitting units of the machine are identical and work at the same speed. One machine can therefore make only one size of stocking at a time.

The needles used are known as bearded needles and although about the same size as a sewing needle they differ considerably in construction. There is no eye in the usual sense of the word, but the top of the needle is continued to form a slender tail-piece or beard which is doubled over. The end of this beard, which is springy, is made to fit a slot cut in the stem of the needle so that when the beard is pressed its tip closes against the stem and forms a temporary eye. When pressure is removed the beard springs open and the needle merely forms a hook.

The bearded needle used in stocking manufacture

The ‘bearded needle’ used in fully-fashioned stocking manufacture. (Enlarged)