Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

From The invisible man:

His feet, save for socks of irregular open-work, were bare, his big toes were broad, and pricked like the ears of a watchful dog.

This is the complete chapter.

The sentence means this guy was barefooted, but I'm not sure what open means, there.

share|improve this question
add comment

2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Openwork (or open-work) is any style of fabric that is made with holes included, such as crochet, lace doilies, or some forms of quilt. It's also used for metal structures that have holes, but I believe this is less common.

It seems odd to hear it used for socks. Socks are usually knitted, and I don't see any reason to knit holes into socks. I guess it's a metaphor - these socks were so ragged that they seemed to have been made as openwork.

share|improve this answer
add comment

It sounds as if the socks were of a rather loose weave.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.