John Nelson of Rockford, Illinois patented the first sock knitting machines in 1869. In 1890, he began producing Rockford Red Heel socks, which he intended for farmers and factory workers. However, it wasn’t until 1920 when a proud sock monkey maker sent her handiwork to the Nelson Knitting Mills that the company realized what a brilliant, multi-faceted material they had on their hands and immediately began including sock monkey making instructions with every pair of Rockford Red Heel socks they sold. And so a grand American folk art was spread far a wide….
Fox River Mills purchased Nelson Knitting Mills in 1992 and today they carry on the production of Rockford Red Heels, instructions included.