How many historical facts do you know about socks? 7 new interesting facts from Sockscene...
1. SOCKS MAY HAVE ORIGINALLY GONE WITH SANDALS.
The oldest socks that have been discovered date to between 250 and 420 CE and feature split toes—meaning they were likely worn with sandals. Researchers found a red pair of woolen ancient slip-ons near the Nile River in Egypt, at the site of a long-gone Greek colony. What sets these ancient socks apart though is their knit-like construction, from a technique called nålbindning that predated knitting. Nålbindning used only one needle (instead of two) and took much longer than modern knitting.
2. ANCIENT GREEKS LOVED FURRY SOCKS.
It’s likely the modern word “sock” came from the ancient Greek word “sykkos,” which referred to a thin shoe that could be worn with sandals. But, Greeks did more than just name foot coverings. Early socks in ancient Greece had their own special construction matted animal furs. A pair of breathable cotton socks never sounded so nice.
3. ONLY WEALTHY PEOPLE HAD NICE SOCKS.
In their most basic sense, socks are helpful at protecting feet from the elements and wicking away sweat. Despite their somewhat gross use, historians say socks transformed from functional footwear to fashion symbols around 1000CE, in part because making comfortable socks was a time-consuming, intricate process. Nobles and kings alike sported knee-high stockings as a way to express their financial and class standing because, like many belongings, the silkier the material, the wealthier you were. For some time, presenting stockings to important people was seen as a generous (and much welcomed) gift, which may just be why socks are popular at Christmas time.
4. QUEEN ELIZABETH WAS PICKY ABOUT HER SOCKS.
After creating his revolutionary stocking frame machine, Lee approached Queen Elizabeth’s court to patent his invention. But Lee’s request, according to legend, was tossed out because his stockings weren't nice enough-Queen Elizabeth was fond of silk stockings and the wool ones Lee produced didn’t meet her standards. Lee reworked his knitting machine to producer finer quality socks, but once again was denied a patent, this time on the basis that a fast-paced loom could put knitting artisans out of business. After a second rejection (and the treason conviction and execution of his business partner), Lee headed off to France, where King Henry IV supported his invention. Unfortunately for Lee, Henry IV was assassinated in 1610 and the succeeding King Louis XIII didn’t find the stocking frame worthy of his time (which wasn't entirely his fault—he was only 8 when he ascended the throne). Lee died soon thereafter, and his brother James Lee continued the stocking business.
5. SOCKS AREN'T POPULAR EVERYWHERE.
Though socks and stockings are near ubiquitous, some parts of the modern world have resisted them in preference of foot cloths, a piece of fabric wrapped around the foot to buffer against tall and bulky boots. Russian soldiers wore foot cloths—also called portyanki—until 2013 when military reform required they begin wearing socks. But not everyone thinks socks are a better fit for heavy boots; some soldiers and military leaders believe that the thick flannel or cotton portyanki dries more quickly and is more comfortable in military boots than socks.
6. THE DECORATIVE SIDE OF A SOCK IS CALLED A CLOCK.
While (most) socks don’t keep time, the area around the ankle, where a pattern may run up the side of the leg, is called the clock. The term may come from the way a stitched or woven vertical pattern can look like clock hands from a distance.
7. A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF SOCKS COME FROM ONE REGION OF CHINA.
Unless you make your own socks or buy local, there's a good chance they were made in "Sock City," China. The Datang District in eastern China is one of the top sock producers in the world, producing roughly one-third of the world's socks each year. It's been estimated that in one year, the town's factories made two pairs of socks for every person in the world.