An early history of knitting
Knitting is something we are all familiar with, but surprisingly, we know little about when and where the art of hand knitting started. This is because yarn fibers are biodegradable. One thing we do know is that the oldest form of knitting (crossed knitting) has been practiced since before the birth of Christ. A pair of knitted socks discovered in Egyptian tombs from the 3rd to 6th centuries AD is the earliest archaeological evidence of knitted garments. The earliest knitting needle is a brass rod from the early Iron Age. Spinning wool started around 4000 BC. near the Mediterranean. The first wool factory in England was built in 50 AD by the Romans. The type of knitting that we are used to, however, has not been practiced until recently.
The oldest form of knitting is cross knitting, also known as single needle knitting and pseudo knitting. In crossed knitting, the stitches are rotated half a turn instead of being aligned vertically. This knitting method was highly developed by the Nazca culture in Peru (100 BC – 700 BC) on the edge of their woven fabrics. Frequent color changes in these edges were used to create intricate human and animal figures.
The origins of knitting are difficult to trace, but there are different theories. Some people believe that knitting started in Persia, others that it started in Israel, Jordan, and Syria. Still others believe that it started in the mountains of North Africa or even in Japan or China. Some people believe that knitting came about from knitting fishnets by men.
Some socks and other items made using the crossed knitting technique have been found in Egyptian burials that may date back to the 4th or 5th century BC. Knitted socks were found in Egyptian tombs (3rd and 6th centuries AD, knitted pieces found in Dura-Europa near the Euphrates (approx. 200 AD), and sandal socks apparently from Saudi Arabia (c. 350 AD) However, it is possible that these earliest socks were made in nalebinding, an ancient craft that often looks very similar to real knitting and has been done by archaeologists with no training in the history of manual labor A pair of patterned cotton socks from Egypt dating back to 1100 AD may be the earliest example of “real” knitting or nalebinding. Socks and stockings were the first knitting items because knitting was ideal, to shape a garment to fit the foot at a time, and the fabric and sewing fabric were less flexible.
Mildred Graves Ryan’s full encyclopedia of embroidery says that most historians believe that knitting was probably spread by (probably male) Arab seafarers and merchants who have traveled through the Mediterranean. Many people believe that knitting was first invented by Arab nomads who brought the craft to Egypt, probably in the 5th century AD. The knitting was then carried through North Africa and to Spain. Catholics from Spain took it in and quickly spread it across Europe.
It was not until the early 14th century that we first saw evidence of real knitting in Europe. The stitch was unknown at the time, which meant that in order to make simple knitting, people had to knit in the round and then cut it open if they had to. The first clue to Purlstich was only in the mid-16th century, but knowing how to do it may have preceded it a bit.
Although no one knows exactly where the real knitting started, it seems that the knitting was probably spread by Arab seafarers and merchants who traveled through the Mediterranean. Then traveling Catholics obviously spread it quickly across Europe. Real knitting as we know it is a relatively young craft. However, handicrafts that are similar to real knitting, such as cross-knitting and nale bandages, have a very long history that goes back to the birth of Christ. They were obviously also practiced in many different countries and cultures, from Japan to Egypt to Peru. Knitting clearly met a need in the manufacture of garments that is still ongoing and growing.