Knitted Knee Socks

Figure 1.--Sewing magazines provided many colorful designs for knitted knee socks. I believe they were more common in England than anywhere else. The two styles pictured here from a 1970s sewing magazine were in sizes for boys from 4 to 8 years to be worn with the outfit in figure 2.

Boys with mothers who were avid knitters might wear knitted socks. This was mostly for younger boys. Older boys were less willing to appear in socks that differed from their friends. There were some differences between countries, although the authors only have information on England and America--and that information is very limited.

The colors of knitted knee socks seem generally brighter and more varied than the socks generally worn by boys with knickers and short pants. Presumably the knitter found it a bit boring to knit plain grey socks. As the knitted socks were usually for younger boys, the mother or aunt could use more creativity as a younger boy was less likely to complain about the color.

The styles of knitted knee socks also seem more varied than the mostly plain grey socks and grey school socks with colored lops worn by English boys with short pants. Although some styles are similar to the knee socks worn by American boys with knickers. Again, presumably the knitter found it a bit boring to knit plain grey socks.

Of course sweaters were the most popular knitted garb, but shorts and other garments were also knitted. Some of these garments included knitted knee socks. Sewing magazines provided a wide variety of patterns. This was particularly popular in England. Thus some English boys wore quite striking knee socks, different than the grey ones most of the boys.

Figure 2.--Mothers knitted many different garments. Except for the sweaters, the knitted garments like these Argyll kneesocks were mostly worn by younger boys. A sewing magazine provided patterns for the vest, shorts, and kneesocks.

Some differences exist between countries:
England: Younger boys might wear colored knee socks in patterns knitted by adoring mums, aunts, and grandmothers. Often they might be worn with complete knitted outfits. Most English school boys, however, wore grey socks. Some wore grey school socks with bands at the top in the school colors. With a few exceptions only in Scotland were colored socks worn--at some private schools. School age boys generally wanted to dress like their mates. Thus few wore knitted kneesocks in colors and patterns with short pants.
United States: Knitted kneesocks would mostly be worn by younger boys. The patterns knitted such as argyles were popular with knickers, but knickers were not much worn by the 1940s. By this time American boys were mostly wearing long pants jeans. Boy still dressing up in short pants suits almost always wear conservative solid color kneesocks. There was, however, a never to popular style during the 1950s of wearing Argyll kneesocks with shorts. Boys wearing shorts for play would wear them during the summer with ankle socks. The relatively small number of younger boys wearing shorts to school would generally not wear knee socks.

Knitting is quite a time consuming process. Many mothers used to cut back on clothing costs by knitting. In today's economy, the cost of clothing has declined in real terms. Thus almost everyone purchases ready-made socks. It probably costs more to knit socks them to make them--especially if the value of the labor is computed. Thus today only the most avid knitter would knit socks.

Christopher Wagner

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Main sock page] [Main knee sock page]
[Knitted wear]
Introduction] [Chronology] [Clothing styles]
[Biographies] [Bibliographies]
[Contributions] [Countries] [FAQs]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: June 19, 1998
Spell checked: August 1, 1999
Last updated: August 1, 1999