Serra d’Ossa is at an elevation of 2,142 feet (653.0 m) above sea level in the Alentejo region of Portugal between Estremoz and Redondo. (The origin of the region’s name, além and Tejo combined as Alentejo, literally translates to “beyond-the-River Tagus” or “across-the-River Tagus.”) This region is famous for crafts: The people produce bricks, furniture, rugs, shawls, and more. Although the beautiful rugs called Arraiolos have increased tourism in the area, in contrast, some other crafts have been almost forgotten.
Among those almost forgotten crafts are the exquisite handknitted socks produced in Serra D’Ossa. In the past, these ethnic socks were part of a costume worn by the women on festive occasions such as Carnival. They were finely decorated with detailed flower motifs and bright colors, usually bright red and yellow. As cheaper machine-made socks became available in this area, fewer people were interested in knitting the socks and keeping this tradition alive.
I first read about these socks on Rosa Pomar’s blog. As she fell in love with them, so did I. Rosa lives in Lisbon and had the opportunity to visit the village and talk to the small group of knitters who are still knitting these socks. She has published more information about these socks in her book Malhas Portuguesas: História e prática do tricot em Portugal [Portuguese Knitwear: History and Tricot Practice in Portugal].