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Coptic Knitting: An Ancient Technique by Dorothy K.Burnham

This research was based on an academic paper Coptic Knitting:An Ancient Technique by the late Dorothy K.Burnham  (1911-2004) Published in Textile History Volume 3,Issue 1 December 1972 pages 116-124, which can be obtained from the link above.  I have cross referrenced these photos of my work to illustrations and photos in the article.

The cast on method and circular method of working to create the "big toe", which proved quite straight forward. [Burnham P.123 Fig 1.]

Through the loop and under the working thread

In the illustration the cast on loops are wrapped around the foundation knot. However, introducing a 'twist' to the loop added a stability to the stitches that made it easier to work with as there is a tendency for the yarn to curl.

19 Loops create 18 stitches

Working through the X

The fabric was created by looping the yarn through the X working in the round the fabric provides a very even finish front and back. [Burnham P.123 Fig 3.]

Right Side out straight toe
Inside out

My template for the sock size was drawn around the foot of the intended recipient.

The 4 toe section of the sock required a great deal of experimentation. The photograph of a Baby's Bootee [Burnham P.120 Fig 4.] shows how the shaping was achieved on either side of 3 straight stitches. An extra loop was added between stitches. Increasing every alternative round proved the best shaping.

Adding extra loop for shaping

When the right length was achieved for both toes, they were joined by working across all stitches, with the shaping continuing down the outside edge for the 4 toe section.

When the desired width was achieved the work continued in the round until the top of the work reached the correct length to cover the main part of the foot.

At this point the work continued for 15 stitches backwards and forwards to create the underfoot.

The texture of the fabric changed at this point. This texture change can also been seen in Baby's Bootee [Burnham P.120 Fig 4.] and is likely due to the S/Z twist of the yarn.

On completion of the underfoot, the work continued joining the right to left rows to the top foot section. [Burnham P.123 Fig 4.]

The ankle of the sock continued on for several rows [Burnham P.123 Fig 4. H]. The fabric naturally curled over, providing an attractive finish. [Burnham P.120 Fig.4.]

A picture of the final result of my efforts!

While my photo's clearly  illustrate the process of creating this replica, they do not illustrate the hours of contemplation and failed experiments involved. Though the project was sometimes frustrating it was a very welcome challenge.