Monday, 14 April 2014

Coptic Socks

I've been fascinated for a long time by the often brightly coloured sandal socks that occur in Romano-Egyptian and Coptic Egypt. When first encountered by archaeologists and historians, they were assumed to be knitted, but it is now understood that these are made by a form of nalbinding, or single needle looping.

Nalbinding won't be what they called it of course, but its the term by which the technique is known today, and these particular socks use a stitch often called Tarim or Coptic stitch. Its not at all hard to work, but it is significantly slower than knitting, this pair took approximately 24 hours of work. A similar knitted pair worked at about the same final gauge would need just over half that time.

I based this adult pair of socks loosely on a child's pair at the British Museum, simplifying the colours to use two dyed and one undyed shade.