Types of hosiery

The term 'hosiery' specifically refers to knitted coverings for the feet and legs, but it may be generically (but confusingly) applied to all types of knitted goods and fabric.

Most hosiery articles are knitted with integral tubular legs and feet. The welts and top are usually knitted first, the foot and toe last. Closing the toe also produces a secure finish.

The machines have a master machine control that automatically times and initiates the mechanical and electronic operations, and changes of stitch length necessary to produce the garment-length knitting cycle. Later making-up, such as toe-closing and finishing operations, off the machine may still be required.

Hosiery is usually available for a range of foot sizes. In the case of staple fibre spun yarns such as cotton or worsted, different foot lengths are obtained by knitting them with differing total numbers of courses. However, hosiery knitted from continuous-filament stretch nylon yarn may have an extension of 50 per cent so that a standard foot length is capable of accommodating itself to various foot sizes. The following types of hosiery articles are particularly common:

  • Hose, which have a leg-length extending above the knee;
  • Three-quarter hose, which are of knee-length (approximately twice the foot length);
  • Men's half-hose, which are usually in two leg-length ranges of 7-9 inches and 11-15 inches (18-23 and 28-38cm);
  • Stockings, which are designed to fit the leg up to or above the knee and may or may not be self-supporting;
  • Tights, particularly in fine gauge, which are termed panty-hose in the USA. They may have a body section of the same knitted structure as the legs and an inserted gusset and elasticated waist-band.
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