I am currently reading articles in 19th century newspapers as I research knitting and stockings/socks.
The Pittsfield Sun [Massachusetts] June 30, 1859
Life in a Stocking
Life has been likened to almost everything, and has been looked upon in as many different ways as it could be turned by Fancy’s shuttle in the rattling loom or busy brain. But in all the different ways life has been presented to you, have you ever see it compared to a stocking? If not pause a moment and listen.
At first the stocking is not a stocking, not the life a life, but each a skein of yarn, pure, clean and waiting to be reeled off. Sometimes, to be sure, the yarn is clouded, mixed and even grey, but with care it will all knit in and nicely blend together. There are no breaks, no tangles in it now as you look at it ere it starts upon its course, but thread is frail, the needles may bend or break, and a steady hand, must watch them now their life-work is begun.
Look at the stocking and look at the life—stitch by stitch do they progress, and how nicely are those stitches all linked together, held by a single thread—the thread of the stocking and thread of life—and yet so long as the thread is unbroken so long will the stitches hold together.
But see!—there is a stitch dropped, the thread broken and tied again, and it leaves an ugly scar—a knot—a mended life. The stitch dropped may be smoothed over, the broken thread mended, but the stockings, the life are marred; the first miss-stitch is made, the first warning given.
There is magic music in the click of the knitting needles plied with nimble fingers, and there is music too in the click of Time’s knitting needles as he knit away at the young life, now laughing a merry strain, and again, one mournful as a dirge.
Sometimes the knitting needles grow rusty and the half knit stocking is laid away; but the hands that held the needles first grew tired, were folded over the still breast, and laid to rest when the stocking and the life were nearly half done.
There is a great deal of seaming in the stocking, and so there is in the life; more seeming than doing, the best foot put forward, the bright side out, and the seam stitches uppermost.
There is the widening, too—the stocking grows, the life expands, the purposes grow stong, the hands qrasp for more—and then comes the narrowing. The thread has been held so loosely, so many stitches have been dropped along the life-road, the thread of hope broken so many times, that we begin to narrow in the life-stocking, to draw more closely within ourselves, and guide the needles with a more careful hand. Then comes the footing—there is a good deal of footing in life, a good deal of trudging—the foot-path is well beaten—the feet are grown weary and sometimes they refuse to go further—the life tramp ceases and for a while we rest.
All along the stocking and the life there are black, red and white threads—those are the way marks.
When you were knitting the stocking your mother put those threads in that she might know when your stent was completed, you “ten times round” knit, and you could easily pull them out again; but in the woof of life they are firmly woven, and if you brush the dust away they are as plain as ever; you pull them out, but in vain.
In the stocking those way marks are only threads, but in the life they are great joys, and grief’s; graves which draw you down to earth where hopes and hearts are buried, and jewels that draw you up to heaven—yea, even jewels in our Father’s casket.
As you glance back to the way you have come even to the casting on of those first life-stitches, you see a great many knots mended but not hidden, a great many stitches dropped, the thread held loosely till kinked and tangled, many needles rusted and broken, and a great many way marks you would brush with the dust away.
The knitting goes on, the ball of yarn grows smaller, the life dwindles away, the stocking is almost done—then comes the toeing off, the last stitch is bound off, the thread drawn through and broken, and the stocking and the life are done!