When was knitting invented?


The history of knitting

The art of knitting is ancient, it is one of the oldest fabric-forming techniques. Science probably rightly assumes that fabrics in which stitches form the basic shape were manufactured earlier than those made by binding threads, i.e. woven. Meshes can be formed without any auxiliary equipment - with the fingers, with the toes. The knitting was probably preceded by a braiding technique, in which one hung loops in a pre-tensioned thread; this operation could be carried out in back and forth rows, but also in rounds. The resulting fabric is stretchable, the stitches formed in this way "stand horizontally on top of each other as in knitting, the working thread is not infinitely long, but it can be re-laid over and over again. Later you like the stitches with two needles, those made of bone or wood were made, formed in the way we still do today with knitting: From an initial loop that lies on the left needle, a new loop is fetched through with a second needle and then lifted onto the needle as a stitch to the existing loops.

In Central European countries, it is common practice to hold a knitting needle in your right hand and one in your left hand and guide the thread coming from the ball of wool around the fingers of your left hand. South of the Alps, in France and also in Turkey, it is handled differently: the right hand guides the thread, the right needle is clamped under the right upper arm and held by it. The point of the needle goes through the stitch on the left needle, the thread is placed over the point of the needle and now the stitch of the previous row is lifted over it.

Knitting was probably already known in ancient times, because Amazons wear very tight-fitting stocking-like trousers on Greek vases, which can hardly be sewn from a woven fabric. Mesh stockings have also been found in the graves of Roman legionaries. A sock has survived from around AD 500 to 700, discovered in a Coptic grave; It is also knitted or worked using the braiding technique already described. On this sock - like the thumb on our mittens - the covering for the big toe is separated from the rest of the sock.

It is very likely that the art of knitting has been forgotten over the centuries. In the 13th century people were knitting again in Italy; The gloves of Pope Clement V have survived from this time. The Spaniards are said to have mastered knitting at this time too, and they learned it from the Moors. There is much to suggest that knitting was also invented independently in America. A glove was found in a Peruvian city of the dead, which was probably made before the turn of the century.

Italian artisans are said to have reintroduced knitting north of the Alps. A Strasbourg guild regulation states that the trade comes from Prague. In any case, a lot of evidence of the existence of knitted objects has been preserved from the 16th century. So we hear z. B. in 1519 from the manufacture of knitted stockings in Nottingham; this English industrial city is still a center of the hosiery industry today.
Fai Isle residents are said to have learned colorful knitting from Spanish sailors who were shipwrecked near the Shetland Islands. The patterns on the sweaters worn by Irish fishermen who inhabited the islands of the west coast indicated whether it was a weekly or a holiday sweater. Most common today are the patterns from the Aran Islands. Similar patterns, in which the crossed and twisted "stitches determine the pattern, can also be found in rural knitting in Central and Eastern Europe.
Stockings for Henry VIII are said to have been made in Venice or Milan around 1539; Knitted from silk, they were a luxury at the time that only the rich nobility could afford. Knitted stockings were acceptable as gifts. "Mechanical production made stockings cheaper so that wealthy citizens could also afford knitted stockings.

How the invention of the first knitting machine came about is told by the following touching story: As a student at Cambridge University, William Lee met a poor girl whom he fell head over heels in love with and immediately married. His position as a preacher brought so little that the young woman had to earn extra money. She knitted stockings with diligence and perseverance. He pondered how he could help his wife; to invent a device that knitted the stockings faster than her nimble hands. It was not easy without it With the help of his fingers to create the stitches with the smooth needle tips. Finally he came up with the idea of ​​bending the needle tips into a tiny hook; that was the decisive solution. In 1589 he was able to demonstrate the first properly functioning hand ball chair, which already worked six times faster than Lee's invention was first evaluated in France, where he had emigrated with his brother e by French emigrants to other countries on the continent.
As a craft, knitting was not practiced by girls and women at the time, but men were engaged in it. Towards the end of the 16th century, knitting was subject to the guild "; the guild of knitters was subordinated to the cloth and beret makers' guild. After a few decades, knitting became so important that it was prescribed to make a knitted carpet without errors when taking the master's examination. These knitted carpets and blankets are decorated with rich animal and plant ornaments. After completion, the carpets were pulled through hot water, which felted them, and then sheared. The oldest surviving work was kept in the Heimatmuseum in Neisse, made around 1667. In the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg we can admire a knitted carpet from 1690, the colors of which have been preserved particularly well to this day; 174 x 160 cm .. But not only master carpets are in the 17th and 18th centuries r hundred emerged; They also knitted diligently for domestic needs. In a women's encyclopedia "that appeared in 1739, it says among other things: Knitting is a science (!), Stockings, gloves, camisoleers, hats, things made of silk, wool, thread or yarn are artificial thanks to the knitting needles that go with them to knock into each other and to give each piece the appropriate shape. "
If there is talk of prominent knitters of the 18th century, then Marie Antoinette is mentioned and it is also said of Frederick the Great that he occasionally passed the time with knitting needles in his leisure hours.
A century later, in the Biedermeier period, people were particularly diligent in knitting. Now it wasn't just socks and gloves, hats and camisoleers that were knitted with zeal. The Biedermeier lifestyle also included blankets for the family table, the large spread blankets for the double bed, and curtains for the windows. Made of the finest linen thread and with very thin ones , flexible needles made of wire were used to knit baby bonnets in fine, gossamer lace patterns, patterns that we still know today and like to knit in cotton thread or wool. Bead knitting was also practiced with perseverance, flower-patterned bags were created where the stitches can no longer be recognized because a bead is knitted into every stitch; a really tedious occupation, because before you could start knitting you had to go backwards following the pattern row by row or round by round - one colored pearl after the other on the working thread Baby bonnets were decorated with borders made of colored beads. Type samples were used as a template, in which for each company rbe another sign was registered. Knitted stockings remained very fashionable in the Biedermeier period, after Paris stipulated a skirt length without feet, they became an important prop. They were mainly knitted from white cotton, decorated with embroidery on the gusset and lace patterns in the footplate. Often not only the first letters of the name, but also the place and time of origin were immortalized in the edge of the stocking in left stitches or with tiny pearls. In fashion journals and women's papers from the second half of the 19th century, we encounter more and more knitting instructions for skirts, mantillas, capes and warm underwear.

During the First World War, it was primarily again knitted warm covers for the winter such as socks, pulse and knee warmers, hats and scarves. In the twenties of our century the hand-knitted stocking lost more and more of its importance, the industry took over the production. Only in sports and traditional costume fashion did the hand-knitted people keep their firm place. In those years, the sweater turned into a pullover. And since then - depending on the intentions of haute couture - knitwear has been casual, casual and slim-fitting. Knitting by hand is a hobby that not only relaxes and helps pass the time, but also creates useful and beautiful things.