The advent of nylon

With only yarns such as rayon, silk, cotton and worsted available for knitting, bag-giness (particularly around the ankle) of ladies' fine gauge circular knitted seamless hose caused them to be regarded as a cheap but inferior rival to the more shapely fully fashioned hose knitted on the straight bar frame. The former was even provided with an imitation of the fashionable seam at the back of the leg. There was thus little encouragement for circular hose manufacturers to re-equip and, in 1946, only a quarter of circular hose machines knitting in British factories could produce an automatic in-turned welt; and most machines had only a single feed.

In the same year, nylon, the ideal stocking yarn, became plentifully available. Not only was it a cheap, strong, fine and uniform yarn, it had the major asset of being thermoplastic so that articles knitted from it could be heat-set into shapes whose form they would permanently retain, provided that the setting temperature was never exceeded during washing and wearing.

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