Monday, April 13, 2009

Just a Little Sole

It started with a pair of slippers my husband agreed to crochet for me, the pattern being similar to the following:

This was not the first pattern we had encountered calling for a cork sole, but no pattern gave any instruction for forming the sole or exactly how to attach such a sole. A bit of correspondence with others experienced in needlework yielded no answers; obviously some research was in order!

First I found this, from Profitable Plants: A Description of the Principal Articles of Vegetable Origin Used for Food, Clothing, Tanning, Dyeing, Building, Medicine, Perfumery, Etc, by Thomas Croxen Archer, published by G. Routledge and Sons, 1865

Cork, (called commercially Corkwood).—The outer bark of the Cork Oak (Quercus Suber, Nat. Ord. Corylacea).
This very useful substance is formed by the tree between the outermost and innermost layers of its bark; it consists of a peculiar cellular mass, the individual cells of which are distended with a curious grumous secretion, which hardens and dries, and forms the substance of the Cork. When the Cork Oak is nine or ten years old, the outer bark splits and the second layer grows, and increases very much in bulk by the constant secretion of the corky matter: this would fall off naturally in nine or ten years, but is usually removed when six or seven years old. The removal is effected by cutting a slit through the bark from the top of the trunk to the bottom, and a transverse one at each end; the cork will then easily peel off; it is afterwards removed, in large curled-up pieces, to properly prepared pits ; here the sheets are piled up one upon another, and heavy weights are placed to flatten them down; water is then let into the pit, and the cork left to soak for a time, it is then taken out and dried, and retains its flatness. Its use in making corks for bottles is very generally known; it is also used for a variety of economic purposes, amongst which cork soles for shoes, making life-buoys, etc. The imports amount to 2520 tons, an enormous quantity of so light a material.
Just a Little Sole Part 2: So why cork soles?
Coming soon!


  1. Great minds think alike!!! ;O) I have cork sole research on my list of things to do! I'm hoping to make a pair of slippers this year. I was inspired by the contest at the conference! I'm looking forward to see your creation!

    Thanks so much for sharing!!!


  2. Will you be sharing how you attach the soles? That part has never made sense to me! Thanks,
    Joanna (from the Sewing Academy) - whose parents have sold their cottage in the Les Cheneaux Islands, and who doesn't know when she will ever get back to Mackinac Island (sniff!)

  3. Hi Joanna,
    We'll be getting to attaching in part 3 or 4.
    The Snows are beautiful and all the wooden boats too!