"Sock of the Month"

Pirates and the Biscayne Bay Socks

Want to visit Biscayne National Park?  Well, leave your hiking boots at home and put on your swim fins because over 95% of the park is underwater.  The park features jeweled coral reefs, mangrove forests, tropical beaches ... and pirate legends!

Pirate Black Caesar

The Pirate Black Caesar*

One of the best known pirates of Biscayne was Black Caesar ... or should we say two of best known pirates were named Black Caesar.  It's hard to separate pirate legends from the facts.  It is likely the legend began with the first Black Caesar and continued when a second pirate adopted the same name to could capitalize on the fear that the name inspired.

The legend of Black Caesar starts around 1700.  He was said to be an African tribal chief of immense size and extreme intelligence.  ​He was captured by Spanish slave traders and put aboard a ship South America.  According to legend Black Caesar and a friend escaped from the ship and began a life of piracy before they ever reached shore.  In their stolen lifeboat they would wave their arms and pose as shipwrecked sailors.  When a rescuing ship welcomed them on-board they would attack, stealing money and provisions.  

Eventually Black Caesar and his partner travelled up the coast to the waters of Florida.  At some point he and his partner had an argument and Black Caesar killed his pirate-partner ... supposedly the fight was over a woman.  He took on additional pirates and Caesar's Rock, a small island in the Biscayne National Park, was said to be his secret lair.  According to legend he kept a harem of stolen women there, along with his provisions and money. 

Black Caesar had a clever approach to piracy ... he would tie a rope to a rock on an island and use it to lean his ship over so that it was sideways on the water, half submerged.  This would hide the sails and masts so that the ship was nearly invisible.  When the ropes were released the ship would pop up and make its attack.  Surprised victims often said that Black Caesar's ship seemed to appear out of nowhere!

Then the stories stopped.  One legend says that Black Caesar joined Captain Blackbeard's crew and was hanged along with Blackbeard in 1718.  But no one really knows if he died, or retired, or just moved on to another occupation. 

A 100 years later, Henri Caesar was a Haitian slave owned by a wealthy French planter.  As a child he was a "houseboy," performing general household tasks for the French family.  Like the pirate Black Caesar, young Henri Caesar was said to be an extremely large man.  Because he was so big and strong he was moved to work in the lumberyard.  Life as a lumberyard slave was much more difficult than that of a houseboy.  When the Haitian Revolution began in 1791 Caesar joined other former slaves in attacking French soldiers, then moved to attacking French boats on the coast.  He eventually traveled north and was pirating in the same general area as the first Black Caesar.  Henri was also called Black Caesar, but it is not known if he named himself Black Caesar of if others chose the moniker for him.  Either way, he took advantage of the fear invoked by the first Black Caesar!

Colin O'Donoghue as Captain Hook in Once Upon a Time

Colin O'Donoghue as Captain Hook
in the ABC TV series "Once Upon a Time."
... nothing to do with Black Caesar
or the Biscayne Bay socks, it just seemed fun to
post a picture of my favorite pirate hottie.  🙂

And then ... nothing.  Some say he joined the legendary pirate Jose Gaspar (who may or may not have existed) and continued pirating for several decades until Gaspar's death in the 1820s.  But no one really knows.

FiberWild! Biscayne Bay Socks featuring HiKoo's CoBaSi yarn!

The Biscayne Socks

The legend of Black Caesar leaves us with more questions than answers, like, Did pirates wear socks?  Well, they would have had some pretty awful blisters from wearing their black leather boots if they didn't!  We can assume that Black Caesar's favorites would have been the Biscayne Bay socks, named in honor of Biscayne National Park and the latest sock in our Park Your Socks sock of the month series.  The sample socks are knit in CoBaSi's Deep Turquoise, Seafoam and Indigo ... the sea-inspired colors are the favorite of any pirate!  The leg of the socks have sea turtles all the way around ... even the fiercest of pirates must love cute little sea turtles!

So knit the new Biscayne Bay Socks ... or walk the plank! gggrrrrr!

Happy Knitting! ... Scout

* I found this sketch all over the internet, but no where was there any mention of the artist.  If you know who he/she is please let us know so we can properly credit the artist for this awesome sketch!

Sock of the Month: “Biscayne Bay” Socks

Stroll down a beach paradise in our "Biscayne Bay Socks" ...
Featuring HiKoo's CoBaSi Yarn ... 20% Off!

​The emerald islands and bright, aquamarine waters of Biscayne National Park features jeweled coral reefs, mangrove forests and tropical beaches. This National Park emcompasses Biscayne Bay and its offshore barrier reefs just south of Miami in the Florida Keys. Beautiful beaches provide nesting grounds for sea turtles ... and the reefs and waters harbor more than 200 species of life, including 16 endangered species!

95% of the park is covered in water, making most of it accessible only by boat. Visitors can camp, watch wildlife or snorkel their way along the underwater Maritime Heritage Trail which links dive sites, including six shipwrecks. The calm waters also offer divers a view of dolphins, manatees and sea turtles ... which are the inspiration for our Biscayne Bay Socks!

Bonus: Get the pattern FREE with purchase of CoBaSi Yarn!


HiKoo Yarn Logo

Biscayne Bay Socks

by Amy Loberg

Pattern FREE with purchase of CoBaSi

These toe-up, three-color socks have fun and easy colorwork details.  Amy has combined three colors of CoBaSi to reflect the gorgeous aquamarine waters of Biscayne Bay. The toe features a cool wave pattern and the leg of the socks have cute sea turtles all the way around it. The sock is finished with a 1 x 1 rib cuff and an easy afterthought heel!

Finished Size 6¾" (7½," 8", 8¾") approximate foot circumference
Yardage approximately 120 (130, 140, 160) yards each of 3 colors
Materials 3 skein of HiKoo CoBaSi (each a different color)
Shown in Deep Turquoise, Seafoam and Indigo
2 x Size US 1.5 [2.5mm] circular needles or size needed to obtain gauge
Gauge 32 sts = 4″ in Stockinette stitch
US C [3.00mm] crochet hook to cast on
Notions Cable Needle
Skill Level Intermediate

"Biscayne Bay Socks"   |   HiKoo CoBaSi  |   Shown in "Deep Turquoise, Seafoam and Indigo"

Shop CoBaSi 


HiKoo CoBaSi

Cotton, Bamboo, and Silk give CoBaSi its name, but it’s the 21% Elastic Nylon that gives this wool-free sock yarn the kind of stretch and bounce that makes CoBaSi a great choice for socks ... for even the most die-hard fans of wool. It’s light-weight, cool, durable, and soft. Plus it stays up your leg instead of bunching around your ankles. All that at a price that’s hard to beat!

Fiber Content 55% Cotton, 16% Bamboo, 8% Silk, 21% Elastic Nylon
Yardage / Weight 220 yds in 50g
Gauge 26 – 32 sts over 4" on US 1– 4 [2.25 – 3.50mm]
Care Instructions Machine Wash Gentle & Cold, Dry Flat

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The Harvey Girls

Harvey Girls

Harvey House, Syracuse, Kansas

When you think of the wild western frontier do you think of fine dining.  No?  Well, Fred Harvey wanted you to.

Fred Harvey ​was born in England and came to America as a teen before the Civil War.  He worked in the restaurant business, starting as a pot scrubber then advancing to busboy, waiter and line cook.  He started his own cafe, and did well until the start of the Civil War when his business partner took their money and left to join the Confederacy. 

Rather than start another eatery, Harvey turned to the railroad industry.  While the war was bad business for restaurants, it was good for the railroad industry and Harvey did well as a railroad man.

Eating while traveling by train was far from pleasant.  Roadhouses on the western frontier were the epitome of the "wild west," rough and dirty with barely editable food.  In 1876 Harvey struck up a partnership with the Santa Fe railroad to improve the food options for travelers. He would establish restaurants to provide clean, decent meals at station stops, and in return the railroad would give him the space rent-free and allow him to ship food and supplies to the restaurants by train for free.   As a result, Harvey fed hungry train-goers and is also credited with civilizing the west with his "Harvey Girls"

Harvey's goal was not just to feed people, but to provide an experience.  The trains were opening up the west​.  The railroads didn't want just one-time passengers, they wanted frequent riders who would use the trains to sight-see and vacation routinely.  Railroads built lavish hotels in rustic areas accessible only by train ... the railroads profited by stays at their hotel and also by the guests' train passage to and from the hotel. 

Harvey wanted to bring his English manners to his restaurants in the west.  But he found that the local men he hired to serve as waiters were frequently late, often hungover, and fought with each other and with the customers.  His solution to his staffing problems was unheard of at the time - he decided to hire women.

Harvey Girl Uniform

Harvey House and Harvey Girls

But he didn't want just ordinary women.  He ran ads throughout the country:

Wanted:  Young women 18 to 30 years of age, of good moral character, attractive and intelligent, to waitress in Harvey Eating Houses on the Santa Fe in the West.  Wages, $17.50 per month with room and board.  Liberal tips customary.  Experience not necessary.  Write Fred Harvey, Union Depot, Kansas City, Missouri.

The ads did not mention that the Harvey Girls would be required to exhibit high moral character at all times - whether working hours or not ... and had to sign a statement swearing to their agreement.  The Harvey Girls lived in buildings next to the restaurant, had a strict 10:00 pm curfew and were chaperoned at all times.  At many eateries in the wild west "salon girls" were also expected to work as prostitutes ... Fred Harvey made it very clear that that was not the sort of girls he was looking for!

Harvey Girl Uniform

Harvey Girl uniform on display
at the Arizona Railroad Museum

The Harvey Girl uniform was designed to reinforce the women's respectability.  They wore black dresses with heavily starched white pinafore aprons, black stockings, black shoes and white ribbons in their hair.  Necklines were high and sleeves were long.  Cosmetics and chewing gum were forbidden.  Each Harvey Girl was inspected for neatness and cleanliness before opening and those who didn't pass were sent back to their room to change.   ​

New Harvey Girls underwent a six-week training period, then started at one of the smaller Harvey Houses before moving on to a larger, busier location.  They were not allowed to chat with the other Harvey Girls in front of a customer and were taught to smile at all times. 

The Harvey House success was due in large part to their organization.  It was a common scam for a roadhouse to take a customer's order - and money - but then serve the food so late that the customer ​had to re-board his train without eating.  Harvey House managers kept good tabs on the trains heading into their stations.  They had staff at the station preceding theirs to take a headcount of the number of people on each train, then would send a telegraph message ahead so that the next stop knew how many customers to expect.  When the train was one mile from the station a whistle would sound so that the Harvey Girls would prepare.

The Harvey House was also famous for its "cup code."  When a Harvey Girl seated you she would ask for your drink preference.  If you wanted coffee she turned your cup up, and if you wanted tea she turned your cup up-side-down.  When the coffee server or tea server came to your table she could fill your cup quickly and move onto the next table.   

Life as a Harvey Girl was restrictive, but also very liberating.  The wages were high - $17.50 per month plus tips was quite a sum ​in the late 19th century!  It was enough money to send some home to family, plus save a bit for yourself.  For many women it was the first time they had left home, it was exciting to be on their own (although fully chaperoned) and traveling to the great wild west.   

The Harvey Girls signed a one year contract, and they were not allowed to marry within that one year.  But the men far outnumbered women in the west, and many of the Harvey Girls would marry at the end of their contract.  Customers, even cowboys and ruffians, were expected to treat the Harvey Girls with respect - and they did!  The claim that the Harvey Girls civilized the west was twofold:  customers were expected to act civilized while dining, and when the Harvey Girls quit working to marry they presumably ran efficient, civilized households in the west.

When Fred Harvey died in 1901 his restaurants were continued by his children and later his grandchildren.  Most of the former Harvey House hotels and restaurants are now gone, but one exception is the El Tovar Hotel directly on the south rim of the Grand Canyon and just 330 feet from the Santa Fe railway station.  The El Tovar is part of the Grand Canyon National Park and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Judy Garland in the 1946 musical "The Harvey Girls."
The musical created a whole new generation of people fascinated
by the Harvey Girls.

This month's Sock of the Month is the Colorado River Sock, a tribute to the Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River.  These toe-up socks feature a flowing slip stitch and cable pattern running up the center on both front and back, ebbing and flowing like the Colorado River itself.  If you yawn at the idea of wearing boring black stockings like the Harvey Girls, then be sure to check out the vibrant pink and purple Smooshy with Cashmere Grand Canyon colorway inspired by the Grand Canyon itself and created exclusively for our new Colorado River socks!

Happy Knitting! ... Scout

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