For Alan’s 40th birthday, I made him a pair of kilt hose. Kilt hose are long stockings normally worn knee-high with the upper part of the hose folded back down to create a thicker cuff just below the knee. The most common colour is cream, or 'off-white' hose, the colour of unbleached wool. Garter flashes are worn with elastic straps inside the cuff of the hose to hold them in place. The flashes are short strips of fabric hanging from the elastic strap, often matching the tartan or complementary in colour to the kilt fabric. The use of traditional Scottish weapons as part of Highland dress is common, including the knife, the sgian dubh worn in a hose top on the leg corresponding to the dominant hand. Alan wears the Stewart Hunting tartan he inherited from his grandfather.
I haven’t quite worked up my courage to make these, which might be my choice for a later occasion, when I’ve leveled up sufficiently.
The hose at hand were done on 3mm needles, using just under 300g of AdlibrisSocki in the Light Grey Melange colourway. Adlibris socki is 75% wool and 25% polyamide, making it a mixed fibre which is hard to recycle. I have strong environmental reservations about making things from yarn that is even part acrylic and will compensate for this.
There is no pattern as I made these up as I went along, but I will talk a little bit about the process and maybe that will help if you wish to make your own pair.
I took the measurements off Alan’s 14th century sewn woolen hose which I have stored at my house, and knitted the kilt hose with approximately 1.5 cm of negative ease.
This is a toe-up construction, with the hose knitted two-at-a-time. I used a Turkish cast-on of 14 stitches per foot, and knitted the whole foot in plain stockinette. In making socks I have had invaluable help from Mrs Hands, who’s not only taught me how to knit footwear in the first place, but also generously shared her calculations for how to adapt various yarn weights for different foot sizes of the same plain model, which has a lot in common with the Climb pattern on Ravelry.
The kilt hose I made have a short row heel, but you may of course use any heel construction, as it won’t interfere with the hose leg pattern.
The leg has a number of cables (with needle held IFO work) that increase gradually from 2+2 through 3+3 to 4+4 at the most. The centre back cable is eventually split in the back and the right section of it is cabled with needle held at the back. All cables are separated with purl stitches. I would advise you to calculate the number of stitches used for each leg depending on yarn and measurements, and then allocate a number of cables as you see fit around each leg. Increases for wider cables were made on the row preceding the cabling row. All cables were crossed on a repeat sequence equal to their width, i. e. the 2+2 cables cross ever 4th row, the 3+3 ones cross every 6th row and so on.
There is a section of twisted rib beneath the cuff, which has a single repeat of the Celtic Myths shawl border from Ravelry, turned 90 degrees. The cuff also has a picot row where it's turned down, and another for the bottom. To get the cuff pattern on the outside after turning it down, I turned the whole hose inside out once the ribbing was completed, in effect knitting the picot rows and cabled cuff from the wrong side, which would be visible on the outside after turning. I stitched the fold and hem down with the same yarn I used for the whole project, but did not stitch the lower edge of the cuff to the hose leg, as this would have prevented the use of flashing.
This was a fun project even if it takes some time to do the whole leg with all the cables. I made a less intricate but similar, coloured pair for myself as a dry run. I would not say that these are overly elaborate or even very difficult to make, but they incorporate a number of not-too tricky knitting skills which I’ve had a lot of use for previously, and have now had an excuse to combine in the same item.
Happy birthday, hjärtat!