The stocking was not always considered a sexual symbol. The earliest known example of a knitted sock, flat-cut and seamed at the back, was found in Egypt, where both knitting and weaving are thought to have originated. There is some debate as to whether hand-knitting was introduced to Europe by Christian missionaries, sea traders, or Arabs who, after conquering Egypt in 641 C.E., made their way to Spain. What is known is that it was widely established throughout Europe as a domestic skill by the thirteenth century. The majority of stockings were made from wool, although silk was commonplace for the aristocratic and landed gentry, and were viewed as a covering for the legs that was particularly practical for the climate.

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