POW: Bargello Socks and the Rich History of Florence

Bargello Socks

The story of bargello begins in sixteenth-century Florence, when the Medici family consolidated power over the city. They appointed a bargello (similar to a chief of police) to replace the former chief magistrate, known as a podestà. The palace of the podestà, built in the thirteenth century, now housed the bargello’s office and served as the main jail.

In the nineteenth century, this palace changed functions again. As the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, it’s now an art museum housing the largest collection of Italian sculptures from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Here, we find the first mention of bargello patterning on a pair of chairs with a zigzagging, flame-like embroidered design. They’re labeled, “Il diciassettesimo secolo con i schienlai e le sedie fatti in punto unghero” (“17th century with backs and seats in Hungarian Point”), causing some controversy about the design’s origins. Scholars variously refer to such motifs as Hungarian point, Florentine work, or simply bargello.

Mone Dräger interprets this historical design for your feet in her Bargello Socks (Love of Knitting Spring 2017). Mone used stranded colorwork to create the look of embroidered flame stitches. Zigzags and bold color choices bring this classic motif into step with today’s knitting.

For further information on this style of colorwork and the rich history of bargello and Florence, explore the National Museum’s wwebsite found here.

Bargello Socks Detail

Skill Level Experienced

Finished Size 7 (8, 9)” foot circumference and 9 (10, 11)” long; foot length is adjustable. Socks shown measure 8″.

Yarn SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock (80% superwash merino wool, 20% nylon; 425 yd [388 m]/4 oz [115 g]): cauldron (black; MC) and goldmine (gold; CC), 1 skein each.

Needles Sizes 1½ (2.5 mm) and 2 (2.75 mm). Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.

Notions Markers (m); tapestry needle.

Gauge 33 sts and 36 rnds = 4″ in leg patt on larger needles.

-Gus C. Baxter

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