A Brief History of Knitting
Nobody knows exactly when people started knitting or who started knitting first. Knitting was used for creating everyday items and no one cared about saving their everyday items for handing over to future generations. Knitted items were usually unraveled so the yarn could be used for other garments.
Some historians believe that people in the Middle East started knitting first and then it spread out to other parts of the world. At the time, Arabs were merchants and sailors, traveling the world. Since knitting was portable, it was perfect pass-time for sailors during long voyages.
In the early days, knitting was done by men. Then women picked it up and started making garments for their families. When the economy was bad, women knitted garments for sale to add to their family’s income. It was customary for Royalty and the wealthy to wear delicate hand-knit socks and silk stockings.
It appears that the purl stitch was unknown and every garment was knit in round, and then cut, for jackets and vest. This technique is called steeking. The first reference to purl stitch is during the 16th century, but the technique must have been developed earlier.
Archeologists who dug a pair of socks in Egypt tell us that they were done in cotton, as it was most common in the area. When knitting was introduced to Europe, people started using wool, as it was more common in Europe. Since the weather in Europe was colder, people needed warmer garments and wool was perfect for creating warm clothing.
These days, people knit more as a hobby and knitting is a tool for relaxation rather than necessity. The art of knitting has come a long way. However, I am always in awe thinking about the first person who picked up two sticks and started knitting the first knitted item. How ingenious!
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Nazanin S. Fard