Firefighters Socks

Several people wrote to ask where they could buy my Firefighters Socks pattern. You can’t buy it. No one can. It’s not for salebecause I give it away free at my wiseNeedle website. The links here (and in yesterday’spost) will take you directly to it. It’s written for worsted/heavy worsted yarn, and if you’ve never done toe-up socks with a Figure-8 toe or short-rowed heel, being at such a large gauge is a good pattern for a first attempt.


Thank you to everyone who wrote to say that thepostcards I posted yesterday were printed around WWI. I thought that was rather obvious, so I didn’t bother to note it. Most of the others on the site I mentioned were of the same vintage, with a smattering of earlier and later cards.

And a BIG thank-you to Spinnity, who was intriged enough by the sock card to comb through history sites (in French) to find out more about Romilly and its curious link to socks. She left a nifty comment. I’ll summarize her theories:

Romilly was a center of sock manufacture, with at least two large factories nearby producing socks and stockings. This line of regional specialty continues to at least March of this year, when Jacquemard, a major sock factory, closed. The town apparently has had the name “Romilly-les-Chaussettes” (Sock Romilly) for a very long time. Here’s her link detailing the passing of Jacquemard mills(for some reason it didn’t come through on her comment post): in French; in machine-mangled English.

Here’s another Romilly-les-Chaussettes postcard:

Again we see the stripes passing north and south of the heel. But the heel isn’t a short-rowed one of the type often seen on machine-made socks. It has a wide heel flap that wraps around the entire back of the foot, then a cupped bottom area. It looks like after the heel unit is finished, stitches are picked up along the heel’s foot-side edge, and the foot is continued tube-like from that point, incorporating live stitches from the top of the foot.

Apparently the tradition continues. I found mention of at leasttwo more sock factoriesstill in operation in the area around Romilly surSeine (Olympia, Aube Chaussettes); plus in true French fashion – a regulatory board or committee overseeing standards of manufacture and appelation.

Not in France Anymore

Having had a brief whirl through France, I turn to something that causes shudders of horror in every visitor I’ve ever had from that land: American packaged bread. Well, not the bread itself, but the little plastic tags used to close the bags. Continuing the series on indispensible but free knitting gadgets, I put forth the humble bread tag:

What use are they? Well, you can write on them then clip them onto things.

Have you ever been working on a garter stitch piece and forgotten which is the front? While you could remember that the front is the side that has the cast-on tail at the right or left (depending on your method of casting on), I for one can never get that straight. A bread tag with an “F” on it, placed on the front of the work can be a lifesaver.

Need to track the point where something tricky has happened? Bread tags can mark armhole decreases, sleeve increases, buttonhole locations, and the like. They attach firmly to your work, and rarely fall off. Safety pins work well, too but the coils of standard safety pins can get tangled in the knitting yarn, and not all of us have the fancy coil-less safety pins sold in knitting and quilting shops to hand.

I’ve used them for marking yarns in my stash. If I’ve swatched, I’ll scrawl the acheived gauge and needle size on a tag and affix it to the ball. I’ve used them to identify or otherwise mark swatches submitted to pattern publishers as part ofmy designproposals.

Bread tags arefree and completely disposable. You can break them to remove them from your knitting, and not feel you’re tossing away a good tool. (In my house at least they are a constantly-renewing resource and rank up there with wire hangers and AOL CDs.) They also come in lots of colors – good for any color coding scheme you wish to devise.

In a non-knitting mode, I’ve also found them very useful for marking the cables that plug into my routers. I know know exactly whom I am disconnecting when one gets unplugged, even if the shout of dismay wasn’t audible.

Finally, I know people who use them to mate socks before laundering. A bread tag through the toe keeps the pair together, andavoids thatdreaded One Sock Syndrome.

So if you’re looking for a way to make in-work/on-work notations, don’t pass up this humble resource. After all, it’s not like you have to rush out to buy some.

One response

  1. […] I haven’t  made a knitting gadget post in a long time. Here’s a frugal crafting tip, echoing something I posted in 2004. […]

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