“S” for Stockings for children. Charlotte Rimstad, Ph. D. Student, Centre for Textile Research, University of Copenhagen


Fig. 1. Child stocking with anthropomorphic clock. (KBM 3827 RHP, FO213753),
Fig. 1. Child stocking with anthropomorphic clock. KBM 3827 RHP, FO213753 Fig. 2. Stocking for a child, with the garter sewn on (1941:146C). Fig. 2. Stocking for a child, with the garter sewn on. 1941:146C
Fig. 3. Heel in garter stitches on a child stocking (KBM 1455 x1)
Fig. 3. Heel in garter stitches on a child stocking. KBM 1455 x1

Stockings for children are rarely found in museum collections, but they do exist. The Museum of Copenhagen has several different samples, and they tell a bit about the way children were seen and cared for in the 17th century. Many adult stockings and four child stockings, dating to around 1670s, were found during the archaeological excavations at Copenhagen’s Rådhusplads (the Town Hall Square). All the stockings are made of wool (though a few adult silk stockings were also identified) and knitted in stockinette stitches with rows of garter stitches at the top of the shaft. Nothing is known yet about the stockings’ colors yet, but dye analyses will soon be carried out.

The size of the child stockings reveals that they belonged to children aged 1-2 years. A so-called clock – a purl stitch pattern, usually in a flower- or tower-like construction – is seen at the ankle on most of the adult stockings, but also on three child ones. The stocking style for children thus seems to have followed those of the adults in many aspects. However, one of the clocks is clearly adapted to the age of its young owner, as this stocking has an almost anthropomorphic clock, resembling like a short man (fig. 1). This anthropomorphic style is not seen on any of the adult stockings. Another adaptation for children’s stockings is found on a stocking which has a silk ribbon garter sewn on to it, just below the knee (fig. 2).

Since garters could fall down from time to time, attaching it to the stocking permanently, insured that the child would always be properly dressed. A third stocking from an unknown location in Copenhagen has a heel of garter stitches, which is not common on adult stockings either (fig. 3). The garter stitches may have ensured enough flexibility for the child to use it for a longer time, as the foot grew bigger. So, in the 17th century, stockings for children would have resembled those of adults in many ways, but individual adjustments were made according to the child’s age and needs.

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