Saturday, January 31, 2009

Hose and class

"One of the most interesting stories I have come across in my study of knitting is how the craft travelled from Holland to Denmark in the sixteenth century. The King of Denmark was presented with a pair of knitted hose. He was so delighted with the gift that he decided the people of his own country must become knitters. A group of knitters from Holland were invited [...] to teach the Danish women how to knit. The King was so proud of his hose that he immediately issued an edict that no one, other than himself and members of his court, must wear this finely knitted hosiery. The Burghers of Copenhagen rebelled [...] their grumble being:'Why should they wear rough puttees around their calves, while the court wore fully fashioned stockings?' A second edict was then passed allowing the Burghers to wear hose, but these must be knitted in cotton and not in the fine silk used to cover the royal calves. The peasants then took up the cry that they wanted stockings, and a third edict was passed allowing the peasants to wear hosiery of coarse wool. Here, surely, we have class distinction with a vengeance, for in this period in Denmark one could easily tell to what group in society a person belonged by studying his legs."

Norbury, James & Agutter, Margaret (n.d.), Oldham’s Encyclopedia of Knitting, Odham Press Ltd, Long Acre, London, p.14


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