Margaretha Franziska Lobkowitz’s Stockings

The editorial office of PieceWork is all abuzz! What’s the occasion? Our annual Historical Knitting issue just came out, and this year’s theme is socks. In celebration, we’re sharing one of our favorite pairs from the new issue. Featured on the cover is Sylvie Odstrčilová’s exquisite interpretation of a pair of sixteenth-century stockings. Here’s Sylvie to tell us more.

Margaretha Franziska Lobkowitz’s stockings are among the most beautiful period stockings I have seen. No wonder they elicit a lot of admiration even in modern times. However, I believe I am not the only one who cringes at the thought of knitting them in the original gauge (70 stitches and 90 rows per 4-inch [10.2-cm] square). Therefore, I chose a fingering-weight yarn, which gives a more sensible gauge, to make the project.

Margaretha Franziska Lobkowitz’s Stockings

Stockings that belonged to Margaretha Franziska Lobkowitz in the early seventeenth century in the Czech Republic inspired Sylvie Odstrčilová’s exquisite adaption. Photo by George Boe.

After scaling down all the numbers of stitches and rows to adjust for a different gauge, I realized something else that I wanted to change: the original stockings were not close fitting in the ankle area. (Checking the photographs of other period stockings showed that none of them were close-fitting at the ankle. I doubted that they had been misshaped during their conservation.) Four hundred years ago, women’s stockings were hidden under their long skirts, but I believe that no modern owner of these beauties would want to hide them. Therefore, I made adjustments for a more flattering fit. During these adaptations, I added several stitches to the top stranded band, so that all charts continue without a break all around. Apart from these changes, the pattern tries to be true to the original, including a rolled top edge. For those who would like to knit period-correct stockings, stitch counts for the original stockings also are given.

The pattern calls for stitch markers, but I did not use them when I made these stockings—not because they had not been used four hundred years ago, but because they were not needed. False seams (vertical lines of purled stitches) provided such an effective alternative that I have started to use them even in modern knitted projects on circular needles.

To make these stunning stockings, pick up a copy of PieceWork January/February 2018! For more on knitting vintage stockings, read Vicki Square’s blog post, “Tips and Techniques for Knitting Stockings.”

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