Knitting History - Origins of Knitting - Making Fabric
During 16th century, knitting spreads through Britain. On the Scottish Isles, during the 17th and 18th centuries, knitting becomes preoccupation of many. There were cases of whole families who did knitting as a form of a job and it became an important source of their income. Dec 16, · Hand knitting history – The earliest known knitted items found in Europe; made by Muslims employed by the Spanish Christian Royal Families in the 13th century AD. Their ability to make high quality knitted goods like cushion covers and gloves are visible in several tombs in a Monastery in Spain.
Who invented knitting? Was it a sage or a shaman who one day picked up two sticks, whxt string, and began the incredible act of knitting? What is a polo t shirt this ancient genius filled with divine inspiration or dark magic? Could it have been a lucky accident?
When I hostory researching the history of knitting, I expected legends and myths and maybe a few charming fairy tales.
What fun it would be to discover Rumpelstiltskin-like stories about maidens in dire straits, knitting late into the night! I had good reason to expect this. After all, the ancient and similar craft of weaving is central to dozens of myths and legends. While her husband Odysseus was off fighting the Trojan War, she fended off lovestruck suitors with a bargain: she would choose a new husband when she finished weaving a shroud. She then wove the shroud by day and undid it by night, delaying her answer until Odysseus finally returned.
Or consider the mortal Arachne, who challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving dual weave-off? Being mortal, she was no challenge at all and lost.
The shame was so unbearable that Arachne hung herself. Athena pitied her and brought her back to life — but not as a wha, but a spider so that Arachne would spend the rest of her life weaving.
Despite high hopes, my research revealed neither mortals nor gods. Not exactly the fun romp through fairy tales I was hoping for. All this confirms that knitting is a relatively new invention. This is a hard wbat because many of the earliest knitted garments have disappeared. The reason for this is simple: early knitting was made from natural fibers like cotton, silk and wool — fibers that decompose easily.
However, both knitting and nalbinding produce near-identical looking fabric. They include some colorful fragments and intricate socks sometimes called Coptic socks knit in white and indigo cotton. But once knitting makes its way into Europe, things really start to pick up. Sign up for free patterns, tutorials, sales and promotions. Only good stuff. Never spam. Unsubscribe anytime. It inspires me to want to know a bit more about the origin of knitting. Knitting has such a strange, mysterious history.
Really enjoyed the history lesson. The front cover has on it. The one of the two you have shown in the history. Anybody out there can help hidtory.
Carol Robinson. Knitting is as old as the Bible…King David talked to God about God knitting him together in his mothers womb. Mostly wool was woven in the Biblical era…at least spinning by drop spindle was a very present tool in early Biblical history. Thanks for your article, it is fun to read what people find in research. Hi Charlene! You have completely intrigued me with your comment!
I went and did some digging because I know that verse from Psalmbut I never made the connection to knitting! Very interesting read! Your style of writing is on point, I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks Mike! Women were once thought to be incapable of handling complex stitch patterns. Knitting was serious stuff, strictly for men. How times have changed!
As a child How to write sponsorship letter for uk visa was told this was an indication that this was a knitted garment. Did Nalbinding run like knitting if it was cut? Hey Val! That was an awesome read, comments and all. Wishing you all well! After dinner with friends last night, I picked up my knitting which prompted the question about the origin of knitting.
I looked on-line and found your very interesting and fascinating article. I plan a trip to the UK and will now seek out the display you featured from the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum is so beautiful and fascinating. Make sure to wear comfy shoes! Have a great trip! I am a knitter, spinner, dyer and all around lover of anything to do with the fibre arts. Thank you for writing this! Any thoughts on the origin and time period of thhe knitting would what is the ohs act appreciated.
There has been a recent resurgence in arm knitting using bulky yarn to make fast and easy items but surely it is of ancient origin before tools. Happy knitting! Hi Roz! The picture of the Egyptian sock is amazing. I would assume that Egyptians knew how to knit for ages. Just need to find that word. On a trip to Scotland I was excited to visit wool shops and buy yarn and knitting notions but I was surprised to find very few of these shops.
No one really does that here. There may be a shop in Edinburgh. Even my partner was amazed at this because their beautiful country side was filled with sheep. Awesome wool there also. Maybe the origin will come to the surface thru Iceland. They have a web page, and us is also a Facebook group that I have been following that is filled with interesting personal accounts of fascinating classes, tours, and meetings.
It seems that Shetland has revived their heritage of wool; they are even teaching school children to knit. The mainland both pre and post industrial revolution is noted for weaving — hence all that Tartan and Paisley.
All that wool from the sheep historically would have been used for the local weaving industry or exported to England. Patons wool, not sure where hitory are based now but were established in Scotland but again am pretty sure this was wool exported to England. I have a blanket knitted by a Scottish Great Granny, very precious to me and pretty old but is no way a thing of beauty! Your email address will not be published.
Save my name, email, and id in this how to apply domestic helper in canada for the next time I comment. Do not send me any email notifications. Send me an historh if someone replies to my comment. Send me an email whenever a comment is posted. What are you looking for? Photo from Flickr user piedozzino Who invented knitting?
Athena strikes Arachne. See what I mean about great tales? A Puzzle with Missing Pieces Despite high hopes, my research revealed neither mortals nor gods. Nalbinded socks originally thought to be knitting.
Can you tell the difference? This fragment from Dura-Europos was celebrated as the first knitted garment in history until -psych! These cotton socks found in Egypt are some of the earliest knitted pieces. From L to R: Textile Museumca. Hardly conclusive and waffly as heck, but better than nothing, right? Stay In the Loop! Comments 39 excellent information and humorous writing.
Hi Carol, Try these references. I love this. Leave a Comment Cancel reply Your email address will wat be published. This holiday season, knit up a twisted headband!
How is knitting done?
In tracing the history of knitting, the earliest piece of knitted work may be a pair of socks from an Egyptian tomb, dated between the 3rd and 6th centuries CE. The History of Knitting The history of knitting is a fascinating study of social history as it is more involved with the everyday people who created and developed this wonderful craft than the majority of more conventional historic studies. Knitting probably dates . The Historian Richard Rutt conservatively suggests that knitting originated in Egypt between 5A.D.. An independent researcher, Rudolf Pfister, discovered some fragments of knitted fabric in Eastern Syria. The pieces were made of purled and plain wool, and each fragment was believed to be a part of a foot sock.
Knitting is the process of using two or more needles to loop yarn into a series of interconnected loops in order to create a finished garment or some other type of fabric.
More recently, hand knitting has become less a necessary skill and more a hobby. Knitting is a technique of producing fabric from a strand of yarn or wool. Unlike weaving , knitting does not require a loom or other large equipment, making it a valuable technique for nomadic and non-agrarian peoples. The oldest knitted artifacts are socks from Egypt, dating from the 11th century CE. These complexities suggest that knitting is even older than the archeological record can prove.
Most histories of knitting place its origin somewhere in the Middle East , and from there it spread to Europe by Mediterranean trade routes and later to the Americas with European colonisation.
The earliest known knitted items in Europe were made by Muslim knitters employed by Spanish Christian royal families. Among them are the knitted cushion covers and gloves found in the tomb of Prince Fernando de la Cerda, who died in The silk cushion cover was knitted at approximately 20 stitches per inch.
It included knitted patterns reflecting the family armoury, as well as the Arabic word baraka "blessings" in stylized Kufic script.
There also is a Votic knitted fragment dated to late 13th century excavated in Estonia. Like many archaeological textiles, most of the finds are only fragments of knitted items so that in most cases their former appearance and use is unknown. Although the purl stitch was used in some of the earliest knitted items in Egypt, its knowledge may have been lost in Europe.
The first European purl stitches appear in the midth century, in the red silk stockings in which Eleanora de Toledo , wife of Cosimo de Medici , was buried, and which also include the first lacy patterns made by yarn-overs,   but the technique may have been developed slightly earlier. The English Queen Elizabeth I herself favoured silk stockings;  these were finer, softer, more decorative and much more expensive than those of wool. Stockings reputed to have belonged to her still exist, demonstrating the high quality of the items specifically knitted for her.
During this era the manufacture of stockings was of vast importance to many Britons , who knitted with fine wool and exported their wares. Knitting schools were established as a way of providing an income to the poor. The fashion of the period, requiring men to wear short trunks, made fitted stockings a fashion necessity. Stockings made in England were sent to the Netherlands , Spain , and Germany. Many elaborate designs were developed, such as the cable stitch used on Aran sweaters , which was developed in the early 20th century in Ireland.
Knitting was such an important occupation among those living on the Scottish Isles during the 17th and 18th centuries that whole families were involved in making sweaters, accessories, socks, stockings, etc. Sweaters were essential garments for the fishermen of these islands because the natural oils within the wool provided some element of protection against the harsh weather encountered while out fishing.
The stocking frame or the mechanical knitting machine was invented in by William Lee , an English clergyman. After receiving a pair of black stockings from William, Queen Elizabeth I ultimately declined to grant him a patent for his invention.
She complained that his machine-made wool stockings were far too coarse for royal ankles. She didn't like the feel of the stockings or their crude form and she was afraid that the machine would take away jobs from her people.
The inventor moved to Rouen where he built a stocking factory. Before long, the French spread the knitting loom throughout Europe. Framework knitting was predominantly performed at home, often with the entire family participating.
The city of Nottingham , particularly the district known as Lace Market , was a major producer of machine-knitted lace. Leicestershire and neighboring counties had long had an association with the hosiery industry. This continued particularly growing with the invention of portable circular knitting machines. Machines could be hired and worked from home rather than relying on a large stocking frame or the much slower hand knitting.
One manufacturer of these machines was Griswold, often called Griswold knitting machines, the design of this English sock machine originates from the British inventors, Hainsworth and Griswold. Some framework knitters were among the Luddites , who resisted the transition to factories.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, the knitting industry had still not made the transition to factories. By the mid-nineteenth century, hand knitting was declining as part of the knitting industry but was increasing as a hobby. During World War I , men, women, and children knitted large quantities of clothing and accessories to help the war effort on the Allied side, supplementing the troop's uniforms with socks, hats, scarves, sweaters, mufflers, and balaclavas.
Knitting and women's magazines along with the Red Cross published pamphlets and patterns specifically for sailors and troops. Popular magazines and songs treated knitting as a craze that had swept over Britain in the effort to support the military forces. After the White Russians ' defeat in the Civil War , many units retreated into China's Xinjiang and were interned there.
As China was about to descend into a civil war of its own , the Russian internees were transported by camel caravans to Eastern China.
According to Owen Lattimore , it was then that they passed on the art of knitting to the Chinese caravan men, who had ready supply of camel hair from their animals. In , Lattimore was able to observe camel-pullers "knitting on the march; if they ran out of yarn , they would reach back to the first camel of the file they were leading, pluck a handful of hair from the neck, and roll it in their palms into the beginning of a length of yarn; a weight was attached to this, and given a twist to start it spinning, and the man went on feeding wool into the thread until he had spun enough yarn to continue his knitting.
The s saw a vast increase in the popularity of knitwear in much of the western world. The late teens and early s saw a fashion for knitted neckties. Knitwear was often associated with sport and leisure. Both Fair Isle and Argyle styles have since been associated with the sport. High fashion also embraced knitwear, with Coco Chanel making prominent use of it and Vogue magazine featuring patterns.
Before the s, the majority of commercial knitting in the Western world had centred around production of underwear, socks and hosiery. This vastly expanded as the public taste for knitted fashion did also.
Both hand and machine knitting were commercially active on a large scale prior to the Great Depression. Conditions of trench warfare lead to a shortage of socks in particular, and the Allied home front was encouraged to support the troops by knitting. Home knitting grew in popularity, especially as fashion fully embraced knitwear.
Companies started, or expanded, to meet the demands of home knitters, producing patterns, yarn, and tools. The prominence of knitwear in fashion of the s continued, but reflected the changes of fashion.
Combining traditional methods in new ways became more common and new technologies such as zip fasteners began to be used in knitwear. New synthetic yarns started to become available. The hardship experienced by many during the Great Depression meant some turned to knitting through necessity. It was much cheaper to knit your own garments than to buy hand or even machine knitted products.
Skills were needed for repairs to existing garments, socks and underwear. Patterns, now often included in popular women's magazines frequently reflected this need. Socks with replaceable toes and heels were common. Some hobby knitters took to part-time work, hand-knitting for extra income.
The s also saw a rise in the popularity of commercial machine knitting. Much commercially sold knitwear during the s was hand-knitted, however the costs of this and other pressures of the time saw a large shift in consumers towards cheaper machine knitted products.
Make do and mend was the title of a booklet produced by the British wartime government department, the Ministry of Information. Wool was in very short supply, and the booklet encouraged women to unpick old unwearable woollen items in order to re-use the wool. Knitting patterns were issued so that people could make items for the Army and Navy to wear in winter, such as balaclavas and gloves.
This not only produced the much-needed items, but also gave those on the "home front" a positive sense of contributing to the war effort. After the war years, knitting had a huge boost as greater colours and styles of yarn were introduced.
Many thousands of patterns fed a market hungry for fashionable designs in bright colours. The twinset was an extremely popular combination for the home knitter. It consisted of a short-sleeved top with a long-sleeved cardigan in the same colour, to be worn together. Girls were taught to knit in school, as it was thought to be a useful skill, not just a hobby.
Magazines such as Pins and Needles in the UK carried patterns of varying difficulty including not just clothes, but also blankets, toys, bags, lace curtains and other items that could be sold for profit. The popularity of knitting showed a sharp decline during this period in the Western world. Sales of patterns and yarns slumped, as the craft was increasingly seen as old-fashioned and children were rarely taught to knit in school. The increased availability and low cost of machine-knitted items meant that consumers could have a sweater at the same cost of purchasing the wool and pattern themselves, or often for far less.
Alternatives to traditional woollen knitwear gained in popularity, such as tracksuits and sweatshirts , which began to be worn as everyday wear rather than only in a sporting context. Sewn from a micro-knit synthetic fabric and brushed on one side, these were more fashionable at the time, produced more cheaply and quickly and easier for consumers to care for.
These fabrics could also easily be printed with fashionable designs. Although made from a kind of knit fabric they are not usually considered knitwear. These new garments, along with trends away from formality in clothing meant traditional knitwear was no longer seen as sportswear as it had been in the s. Knitwear became more associated with "smart casual" wear. Technological advances such as computerised knitting machines saw new designs and approaches to knitting.
Some artists began to see knitting as a legitimate art form rather than a craft or cottage industry, and more attention was placed on the design possibilities of knitting from an artistic perspective rather than just fashionable or practical approaches.
By the late s, many of the suppliers to the home knitting market had disappeared or been absorbed into other companies, while local wool shops suffered a marked reduction in numbers. However, home knitting still had a strong and loyal following.
The growth of craft fairs, release of well researched books on many aspects of knitting and the continued support among those who had learnt the skill in the heyday of the 60s and 70s kept a considerable amount of interest in knitting alive. One of the most influential changes was the spread of the internet, which enabled knitters to share advice, patterns and experience, but also it meant that home knitters had direct access to supplies rather being reliant on local sources.
These trends have continued. The 21st century has seen a resurgence of knitting. Natural fibers from animals, such as alpaca , angora and merino and plant fibres, chiefly cotton , have become easier and less costly to collect and process and therefore more widely available.
Exotic fibres, such as silk , bamboo , yak and qiviut are growing in popularity as well. The yarn industry has started to make novelty yarns , which produce stunning results without years of knitting experience. Celebrities including Julia Roberts , Winona Ryder , Dakota Fanning , and Cameron Diaz have been seen knitting and have helped to popularize the revival of the craft.