Sock Knitting Triptych: Dymphna, Grace and May

Bonnie Goodfellow

1. Sock “Recipe”

Hand-written knitting instructions for socks

Hand-written by Dymphna Clark (wife of Manning Clark) circa 1977

"… her firm desire…"

Our first project meeting here
@ Manning Clark House -
left in her will, "her firm desire",
by Dymphna – as a place
to discuss public issues.
She was so much more than
known, as Manning's wife -
or ever given credit for.
Born Hilma Dymphna Lodewyckx to
Flemish father, Afrikaans Dutch mother
- we owe her many thanks: Vielen Dank.
Much more than fitting, then, to
respond to 100 years' war and peace
with Dymphna's "Sock Recipe" —

Plain knitting 6 ½”, decrease by knitting 2nd & 3rd sts. & 8th & 9th sts together, on first needle. Continue knitting for 1”. Decrease by knitting 2nd & 3rd sts, & 7th & 8th sts together on first needle. Continue knitting for ½ inch.

There are now 68 sts. on needles.

Slip 14 sts from the third on to the first needle, making 34 sts. on first needle for the heel.

Work on the heel sts in alternate rows, 1st row plain, 2nd row slip 1 purl 1 (always slipping the first & knitting the last st. in every row) for 23 rows, the last row being a plain row. This constitutes a double heel.

To turn heel slip 1 purl 1 for 17 sts, P2 together, P1 turn slip 1, K1, K2 together K1 turn slip1 P2, P2 together, P1 turn slip 1 K3 K2 together K1 turn slip 1 P4, P2 together P1 turn, slip 1 K5 K2 together K1 turn, slip 1 P6 P2 tog. P1 turn slip 1 K7 K2 tog K1 turn, slip 1 P6 P2 tog. P1 turn slip 1 K7 K2 tog K1 turn, slip 1 P8, P2 tog, P1 turn slip 1 K9 K2 tog. K1 turn, slip 1 P10 P2 tog. P1 turn, slip 1 K11, K2 tog, K1 turn, slip 1 P12 P2 tog, P1 turn.

Slip 1 K13, K2 tog, K1 turn, slip 1 P14, P2 tog P1 turn, slip 1 K15 K2 tog, K1. Now 18 on needle with same needle knit up sts on side of heel.

Instep 22 on each needle.

Original hand-written document provided for PeaceKnits by Judy Middlebrook in Dec 2014. Unstated: start with 72 sts and 4  ply sock wool.

2. The Sock Knitter

Painted by Grace Cossington Smith in 1915. This was the first ever exhibited Australian modernist painting.

The artist painted her sister, knitting socks for soldiers, in the garden room of their Sydney family home.

Full size framed reproduction copy, provided for PeaceKnits Pop-Up event, held in April 2015 in Queanbeyan, through the Art Gallery of NSW.

3. Queanbeyan’s Own Sock Knitter

May Hallaran was born at Bodangara near Orange in country NSW. Her father had been a Cornish miner, but after WW2 he moved to Queanbeyan to open this town’s first delicatessen.

In 1915, May learned to knit socks along with many other school children – for those sent to fight in Europe in WW1.

Having a clean pair of socks to put on feet infected by the damp conditions, was the only way they had to stop the spread of “trench foot.”

PeaceKnits exhibited a pair of socks knitted by May for Rosemary McCubbin, who was a longtime resident of Queanbeyan. May continued to knit socks all her life.

Hand-knitted socks