Boldly striped stockings, often blue and white, were a menswear fad in the late 1780s and 1790s. The single surviving stocking here attests to American’s awareness of, and willingness to copy, these trends. The other blue-and-white stocking (said to have been part of a wedding outfit in 1796) is hand-knitted from variegated or ombré yarn to give its interesting pattern. White silk embroidery imitates the fancier embroidery seen on machine-knit stockings like the silk one, third from the left.
The stocking between the two blue options is one designed to be worn with pantaloons. It is made of finer cotton only to a few inches above the ankle, where the pantaloons would reach; above that, the ribbed design continues but the fiber content switches to linen.
The linen stocking second from the left may be a man’s stocking or possibly a woman’s; its knitter has simulated decorative “clocking” at the ankles with a knitted openwork design. The sock at the top of the pile dates to the mid-1800s, somewhat later than the rest.
From the left: hand-knit cotton lace stocking, mid-19th century, 3316.A, gift of Mrs. Kent Hamilton; hand-knit cotton stocking, early 1800s, made by Gertrude Maxwell, owned by A. T. Applegate, 46.164, gift of Hazel Applegate; hand-knit striped wool stocking, about 1787-1795, possibly owned by Capt. Isaac Burnett, 2237, gift of Harriet Taft Applegate; hand-knit stocking for pantaloons, with cotton foot and linen leg, 1795-1810, 90.66, gift of Elizabeth Ziemba; hand-knit blue and white wool stocking, about 1796, 1858, gift Colonel Samuel Ashley Chapter.