Times Past with SOAR mentor Stephenie Gaustad

SOAR mentor Stephenie Gaustad has shared a textile treasure from her collection in advance of her workshop Spinning for Historic Reenactment or Replication. SOAR (Spin-Off Autumn Retreat) will be held at Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, IL, on October 20-26. ~Kate.

At the time when these socks were knitted, clothing and textiles were in and of themselves a familiar language. So many people were involved in handweaving and handspinning, fabrics were right at our noses, so to speak. Knitting stitch patterns, weaving patterns and clothing could be read like a favorite story. We would recognize a pattern, such as the fan pattern used here and immediately appreciate the choice and context. Like music, storytelling, holiday recipes and family "history", clothes were touchstones to shared past.

Exquisite cotton stockings from Stephenie's collection. Photo courtesy of Stephenie Gaustad.

These knee high cream colored cotton stockings were reportedly knit in the nineteenth-century. They have long cuffs and artfully shaped legs. Each stocking has a stockinette panel just below the cuff with a beaded monogram that reads: "K F" in ornate script. The seed beads that form the monogram were threaded onto the 4-ply yarn used to knit the stocking. This very fine lustrous cotton yarn was knitted to a gauge of 18 stitches per inch in stockinette sections.  Most likely they were knitted on something similar to the US 0000 steel pins in the photograph.  

It is noteworthy that the beaded monogram, such a durable yet time consuming embellishment was meant to be appreciated solely by the wearer. The initials can be read from her point of view, upside down to an observer.

Unfortunately, any documentation for these remarkable cotton stockings was lost when they appeared on the United States antiques market in the mid-1960s. Their true age is any ones' guess.

If this journey back into times past catches your eye, speaks to you, then consider joining us at SOAR in Illinois in October. There are two classes with Stephenie Gaustad which would help you toward making stockings such as these. One, "An introduction to Spinning Cotton" is a three hour introduction to spinning cotton on the wheel.  The other, "Spinning for Historic/Reenactment Textiles" is a three day workshop developing skills and techniques to replicate ancient and historic textiles from many eras. 



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