I would think that, in the unlikely situation where a woman was visiting a family and did not bring enough "work" of her own, there would be a conversation like this:

Guest:  Please, let me help you darn those stockings.

Hosts: Oh no, we wouldn't dream of asking you to do that.

Guest:  Honestly, I'd really love to.

Hosts:  Well, if you insist . . .

And note that the hosts would be making their guest more comfortable by giving her something to do when she needed that.

Books on historic costuming

On 12/23/2015 4:23 PM, Carol Kocian wrote:
Yeah, the idea of charity sewing adds another dimension…

The situation, theoretically, is a female relative visiting (cousin, maybe), 
with no problem for others to darn stockings or socks in her presence, but not 
expecting her to work on the immediate family’s old holey socks.

Rather than cutting a hole for her to mend, I think having charity sewing 
projects around would mean she could have worked on that. If it would be the 
norm to have projects like that in the basket, seems it would be preferred. Or, 
she could be working a new item, like making a shirt or shift.

Something done with new stockings is “running in” the heels. Researcher Steve Rayner 
found a Cuthbertson reference from 1768: …"running them in the heels will 
strengthen them exceedingly, therefore every Soldier should learn that piece of 
oeconomy, as well as to mend his stockings, it being very praise worthy, besides 
saving him a constant expence.”

Run-in heel reinforcements are something I’ve seen in extant early 19thC 
stockings, but before the above info I didn’t know how early we had it 
documented. (Pre Rev War, Yay!!!)

Soooo, coming back around to the original story: If the relative could work on 
new stockings but not old ones, I think she could have done the heel 
reinforcements (running-in). Unless, by later eras, the running-in was part of 
the finishing done before you would buy the stockings.

Maybe I’ll never find the source of the “cutting a hole” story, but it would be 
nice to know if it was from real experience or not.


On Dec 21, 2015, at 7:45 PM, Elena House <exst...@gmail.com> wrote:


My first thought was that it was historical fiction, but not necessarily
modern historical fiction, if that makes sense.  It could have been written
say in the middle of the 20th century, when this practice might possibly
have occurred to someone--or it could be a result of the earlier pulp
fiction years, and possibly written by a male (who wouldn't know this
didn't sound quite right) under a female pen name.

My second thought was that from what I'm thinking is the original post, by
Carol, I couldn't really tell what era this was supposed to be, or what
class the young woman/women were supposed to belong to.  Surely there would
be a class divide between those who are socially expected to do 'pretty'
work to show off their accomplishments, and those who would feel they were
impressing the people they wanted to impress more by showing off their
usefulness...?  A middle-upper class family's daughter in say, 1880s NYC
would certainly sew different things when a guest was there than a farming
family's daughter in Ohio in the 1940s would.

I still find the idea of cutting a hole in NEW stocking a bit of a stretch,
but if it were a plot point in an
Isn't-Our-Heroine-Just-Too-Angelic-For-Words type of 1910s young adult
pulp, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find myself reading about it; it
sounds like the kind of story meant to show off someone's virtue.

-E House

On Fri, Dec 18, 2015 at 6:32 PM, Marjorie Wilser <the3t...@gmail.com> wrote:

I vote for fiction. It seems wrong on so many levels. You don’t “cut a
hole" in a (new!) stocking to darn. You cut a thread and let it ravel a
little. In that day, I suspect making ANY kind of hole would never have
happened. You wouldn’t destroy new goods for any reason, much less to make
busy work.

However, the very idea of them darning stockings in a social setting is
suspect. It just wouldn’t be done in polite circles. Wish I could help on
the reference.

==Marjorie Wilser

@..@   @..@   @..@
Three Toad Press

On Dec 18, 2015, at 2:05 PM, aqua...@patriot.net wrote:

A young woman is visiting a household with other young women, and they
darning some stockings. It would not be proper to give her one of the
family's stockings to mend, so they cut a hole in a new stocking for her
to darn.

The whole idea seems silly to me, because it seems that there would be
some new clothing to be made or something for her to do that would not
require making busy work. That's why it sounds more like historical

Does it sound familiar to anyone?


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