Similar to many other regions, handmade socks make a significant part of material culture in Turkey. Besides being functional and decorative garments, in Turkey handmade socks have gained the role of communication through their designs. The motifs that are applied on socks usually have meanings and used for certain purposes. These meanings may have spiritual purposes, such as for wishing a healthy life or protection from the evil eye, as well as functional purposes, such as for indicating the officer on the town or for conveying a message, such as acceptance of a marriage proposal.

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Technique

Typically, in Turkey socks are knitted with five knitting needles. Knitters in other regions outside Turkey may prefer three needles as well. The five needle structure provides a tighter loom structure. Although there are sock examples made of cotton fibres, the most typical material for knitting socks is wool.

Application

Currently, traditional sock examples are available at museums and homes. Hobby courses usually offer sock knitting as well. Usually the works are displayed in fairs in various cities to generate income for underprivileged women. The contemporary sock examples typically apply floral or geometrical patterns. The names and meanings of the motifs are disappearing from public knowledge although sock knitting is still a visible practice.

Meaning & Symbols

A few commonly applied motif names and their meanings are:
ying-yang: co-existence of contrasts, brings happiness
dragon: brings strength and long-life.
goat horn: brings a fruitful period in life.

Origin

Socks knitting has been also a significant community practice in Turkey, similar to most other handicrafts. In the countryside, crafts are practiced as a group activity where makers have daily conversations and sometimes exchange their designs with each other. This tradition continues in the cities through tea parties. Because of this communal aspect, in the 19th century sock knitting had been offered as a rehabilitation tool to people who needed mental or financial support for maintaining their wellbeing.