Sock

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For other uses, see socks (disambiguation).
A hand-knitted sock
Argyle socks

A sock is an item of clothing worn on the feet. The foot is among the heaviest producers of sweat in the body, as it can produce over 1 US pint (0.47 l) of perspiration per day.[1] Socks help to absorb this sweat and draw it to areas where air can evaporate the perspiration. In cold environments, socks decrease the risk of frostbite. The clothing's name is derived from the loose-fitting slipper, called a soccus in Latin, worn by Roman comic actors.[2]

Etymology

The modern English word sock is derived from the Old English word socc, meaning "light slipper". This comes from the Latin soccus, a term to describe a "light, low-heeled shoe", and deriving from the Ancient Greek word sykchos.[3]

History

The earliest known surviving pair of socks, created by naalbinding. Dating from 300-500AD these were excavated from Oxyrhynchus on the Nile in Egypt. The split toes were designed for use with sandals. On display in the Victoria and Albert museum, reference 2085&A-1900.
12th-century cotton sock, found in Egypt. The knitter of this sock started work at the toe and then worked up towards the leg. The heel was made last and then attached to loops formed while knitting the leg. This practice allowed the heel to be easily replaced when it wore out.

Socks have evolved over the centuries from the earliest models, which were made from animal skins gathered up and tied around the ankles. In the 8th century BC, the Ancient Greeks wore socks from matted animal hair for warmth. The Romans also wrapped their feet with leather or woven fabrics. By the 5th century AD, socks called "puttees" were worn by holy people in Europe to symbolise purity. By 1000 AD, socks became a symbol of wealth among the nobility. From the 16th century onwards, an ornamental design on the ankle or side of a sock has been called a clock.[4]

The invention of a knitting machine in 1589 meant that socks could be knitted six times faster than by hand. Nonetheless, knitting machines and hand knitters worked side by side until 1800.

The next revolution in sock production was the introduction of nylon in 1938. Until then socks were commonly made from silk, cotton and wool. Nylon was the start of blending two or more yarns in the production of socks, a process that still continues.

Fabrication

Socks can be created from a wide variety of materials. Some of these materials are cotton, wool, nylon, acrylic, polyester, olefins, (such as polypropylene), or spandex.[5] To get an increased level of softness other materials that might be used during the process can be silk, bamboo, linen, cashmere, or mohair.[5] The color variety of sock choices can be any color that the designers intend to make the sock upon its creation. Sock 'coloring' can come in a wide range of colors. Sometimes art is also put onto socks to increase their appearance. Colored socks may be a key part of the uniforms for sports, allowing players teams to be distinguished when only their legs are clearly visible.

The township-level district of Datang in the city of Zhuji in Zhejiang Province, People's Republic of China, has become known as Sock City. The town currently produce 8 billion pairs of socks each year,[6] a third of the world's sock production, effectively creating two pairs of socks for every person on the planet on 2011.[7]

Styles

Rainbow striped toe socks worn with thong sandals
Flip-flops socks

Socks are manufactured in a variety of lengths. Bare or ankle socks extend to the ankle or lower and are often worn casually or for athletic use. Bare socks are designed to create the look of "bare feet" when worn with shoes. Knee-high socks are sometimes associated with formal dress or as being part of a uniform, such as in sports (like football and baseball) or as part of a school's dress code or youth group uniform. Over-the-knee socks or socks that extend higher (thigh-high socks) are today considered female garments. They were widely worn by children, both boys and girls, during the late-19th and early-20th centuries., although the popularity varied widely from country to country.

A toe sock encases each toe individually the same way a finger is encased in a glove, while other socks have one compartment for the big toe and one for the rest, like a mitten; most notably Japanese tabi. Both of these allow one to wear flip-flops with the socks. Leg warmers, which are not typically socks, may be replaced with socks in cold climate.

A business sock is a term for a colored sock for conservative appearance and casual foot wear. The term is often used loosely to indicate a term for a conservative office setting. For instance, business socks, business shirts and business shoes are used for office and job. These socks usually have patterns and are known to be a cause for bleach stains in laundry machines due to their colored manufacturing process and dyed attributes.

The Ancient Egyptian style of sock is a blend between modern Western socks and Japanese tabi, both of which it predates. Like tabi, Egyptian socks have one compartment for the big toe and another for the rest, permitting their use with sandals; like Western socks, they fit snugly to the foot and do not use fasteners like tabi.

Sizes

Knee-high white socks, often worn as part of a school uniform
See also: Shoe size

In the United Kingdom, a sock's size is similar to the person's shoe size; for example, a foot that has a shoe size of 9 would require a sock sized 8-10.

In some other parts of the world socks are sized differently than shoes. In the U.S. numerical sock size is the length of the foot in inches, whereas shoe size is not.

Sock lengths vary, from ankle-high to thigh level.

Sports

For the baseball uniform, see Baseball uniform#Stockings and pants.

Most sports will require some sort of sock, usually a tube sock to protect one's legs from being scraped while participating in sport activities. In basketball, tube socks are worn, and in lacrosse, mid-calf socks are required.[citation needed] In football, knee socks are used. They are mostly to stop grass burns.

Other uses of the word

The layer of leather or other material covering the insole of a shoe is also referred to as a sock. When only part of the insole is covered, leaving the forepart visible, this is known as a half-sock.[8]

Footwraps

Footwraps used by the Finnish Army until the 1990s

Footwraps, pieces of cloth that are worn wrapped around the feet, were worn with boots before socks became widely available. They remained in use by armies in Eastern Europe up until the beginning of the 21st century.

Holiday items

A sock is also used as a holiday item during Christmas. The sock, or christmas stocking, is usually hung by a nail and filled with small presents which Santa brings while the recipients are asleep.

Other uses of a sock

In popular culture a (tube) sock is sometimes used by a male on his penis, without any other clothes, e.g. on the cover of The Abbey Road E.P., and in the film 21 & Over.

Missing socks

Many people have commented on the mystery of why so many socks disappear in the laundry. Below is one such quote.

”No matter how carefully I sort my socks, whenever I do my laundry there are always some missing. It seems to be a law of physics.” --Andy Warhol[9]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Howstuffworks "Why do feet stink?"". Health.howstuffworks.com. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  2. ^ "LacusCurtius - Roman Shoes - Soccus". Penelope.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2010-03-19. 
  3. ^ "Sock.". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved August 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ "clock3". Merriam-webster.com. 2007-04-25. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  5. ^ a b Selecting Socks, HYG-5544-01[dead link]
  6. ^ "Largest Sock Production Town in China". cri.cn. 2008-05-25. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Sock City's decline may reveal an unravelling in China's economy". The Guardian. 8 September 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Half sock: Patent 6044497". Freepatentsonline.com. 1998-08-17. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  9. ^ Warhol, Andy The Philosophy of Andy Warhol 1975

External links