A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  FAQFAQ  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  

Share | 
 

 The History of Knitting.

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: The History of Knitting.   Thu 04 Oct 2012, 06:01

Many people would know how to knit even the most basic stitch, and it is now considered a mere pastime or hobby. But once the art of knitting was a necessity and I've often wondered exactly how far back does knitting go? Where does it originate?

A little searching and I found this lovely site http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEspring06/FEAThistory101.html . Like many of our best inventions, knitting appears to have come from the East and isn't as old as I would have thought. The oldest knitted item found to date is Coptic dating to 1000CE and despite the common assumption today, knitted items were traditionally made using cotton yarn, not wool.



Before knitting, ie with two needles, there was nalebinding. I hadn't head of this before, the finished product is similar to knitting but the construction is different and slower. Involving passing a single (sewing type) needle through loops of thread http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%A5lebinding The earliest example of nalebinding (below) dates to the 300s and is (again) Egyptian.



The earliest example of knitting we have in Europe is found in (what was then) Moorish Spain, it is silk and dates to 1275. After this time knitting appears to have spread throughout Europe until everyone was busily at it, even the shepherds. Although it is unclear when the transformation was made from using cotton or silk yarns to woollen yarn.



All well and good, but I can't help but think of those Roman socks, evidence of which has been found in Britain. Is knitting older than we thought and those socks worn by the Romans actually made using the two needles as we asumed. Or could they have been made using the nalebinding technique instead?



Last edited by Islanddawn on Thu 04 Oct 2012, 16:15; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Thu 04 Oct 2012, 12:00

I think that the Roman socks were woven rather than knitted.
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Thu 04 Oct 2012, 15:04

Yes, I've done a little more digging (no pun!) around and it doesn't seem to be the case that they were knitted ferval. Or not as we know the term anyway. http://www.romanarmy.net/coldweather.htm

Roman socks were made in two ways, either by fabric cut and stitched together


or by the 'sprang' method with is similar to crochet, although not quiet apparently. Samples of the sprang type sock survive from Egypt, which had a seperate toe to accomodate thong type sandals.

And here is sprang weaving http://www.denblauwenswaen.nl/public/sites/english/techniques/sprang/sprang.htm


Last edited by Islanddawn on Thu 04 Oct 2012, 15:28; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Thu 04 Oct 2012, 15:18

Naal binding or nalebinding


And sprang weaving
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Thu 04 Oct 2012, 15:41

Sprang weaving is really ancient, that's how those nifty bronze age hairnets in the 'dress' thread were made. It's like a complicated cat's cradle method and one I'd like to experiment with some time.

http://www.evakoch.dk/HTML/huer-UK.htm
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2849
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Thu 04 Oct 2012, 19:24

Could one not also make socks by the technique that I know as French knitting or spool knitting - using a wooden spool with several nails in the end - to produce a tube of 'knitted' fabric? My sister used to make things with this when she was young before she progressed to 'proper', two-needles, knitting in her teens. To me French knitting seems a much simpler technique than 2-needle knitting, but I do not know when it was first developed.

And now I think about it, I was the only one in our family who never learned to knit. My mother was always a keen knitter and my sister still knits. But it was only quite late that I discovered that my father could knit too. He had been taught as a child by his mother and was then duly expected to contribute to the domestic supply of socks, jumpers, gloves and woolly hats. He said that it was then not at all uncommon for boys and men to knit, and that in Northumberland, where he grew up, as in Scotland, knitting was never seen as an occupation just for women.

EDIT : Thanks for the youtubes ID: while a picture may speak a thousand words, a succinct well-made video clip speaks millions!
Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1103
Join date : 2012-01-09

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Thu 04 Oct 2012, 20:59

I was thinking of that French knitting too, and wondered if that naal binding (I wanted to say 'biting!) was similar, though the description didn't sound like it. The picture does rather.

I should be knitting now instead of writing here - new baby's hoodie isn't finished yet. Only knitting I've done for about 20 years is for my new grandchildren - and they don't wear them anyway.

Didn't we talk about this on the BBC boards once? I recall a discussion somewhere, though not, of course, any useful details from it.
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Thu 04 Oct 2012, 21:30

The naal binding seems like tatting crossed with crotchet but using a needle rather than a shuttle or a hook. I'm afraid I couldn't see clearly enough on the video to be able to copy it. Anyway, I've too many other things I should be doing so naal-ing and sprang-ing will need to join the long list of things to be tried one day.
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Fri 05 Oct 2012, 06:11

French knitting or spool knitting is a hand held version of the larger Knitting Nancy
which was used for making socks and stockings. The smaller spool was used for making cords, or as far as I've been able to understand anyway. There is a brief history here http://spoolknitter.blogspot.gr/2007/07/henley-knitting-nancy.html . Scroll down and click on the brown pages for a larger readable image.

Yes, we did discuss knitting on the Beeb Caro, but didn't go into great depth. I remember, on looking at the Roman sock (above) we concluded that Roman women could do a very fine herringbone stitch! Heavens, I now realise we couldn't have been further from the truth.

I'm still puzzled as to when knitting with two needles actually began though. It is fairly conclusive that sprang weaving is the oldest and possibly the 'mother' of all other techniques that came later. Naalbinding appears to have come next, and appears to be the precursor of crochet?

Then there is a gap until the knitted Coptic sock above from 1000AD, it is quite advanced work and has a turned heel and everything, surely it would have been done on 4 kneedles? Knitting has to have been around a while before that time, although just because that it is the oldest surviving piece does not mean that that is when knitting was invented of course.

I'm stunned by King Eric of Sweden's silk stockings though and can't possibly imagine doing them.


In 1566, King Eric of Sweden
had a garment inventory done; he owned twenty-seven
pairs of silk stockings imported from Spain, each pair
costing the same as his valet's ANNUAL salary (What
a clothes horse! He's lucky he didn't have taxpayers
to answer to).


The gauge on these stockings
was completely insane; Nancy Bush says the gauge of
one pair is 25 stitches and 32 rows PER INCH. Yes, INCH.
This was before the invention of knitting frames or
anything else in terms of automation; these babies were
knit by hand.

And it wasn't until the mid 1500s that the purl stitch was invented! Until then knitted items had curly edges. This silk jacket has a gauge
of 8.5 stitches per cm, or about 17 stitches per inch.)
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sun 07 Oct 2012, 05:02

The Knitting Madonna by Bertram of Minden, Visit of the Angel from the Buxtehude Altar, Germany 1400-10. Knitting on the round for seamless garments, using 4 or more needles was the traditional method. The two needle method, or flat knitting with seams as is common now is a relatively modern innovation.



Another Knitting Madonna, by Ambrogio Lorenzetti of Siena 1345



Last edited by Islanddawn on Sun 07 Oct 2012, 09:38; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sun 07 Oct 2012, 08:58

Bertram of Minden can never have tried to knit or paid much attention to anyone who did. Holding the work like that would get you nowhere and the pattern for the garment would be impossible. I love her top though.
Ambrogio Lorenzetti's knitter is much more convincing, she knows how to hold the needles.
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sun 07 Oct 2012, 10:00

I can see so much wrong with Bertram's Madonna, not least is the Nordic features with blonde hair and blue eyes! If I could get hold of these silly men I'd give them a good shaking, but then, I probably would have been burnt at the stake. Her top is gorgeous isn't it, she looks very much like she is dressed in a sari.

Now Lorenzo's version is fascinating, even though we have yet another blonde Mary and Jesus. Mary must have been knitting with either silk or cotton there with all the spools on a board in the front. What a great idea, no getting the different coloured strands tangled or having the spool run off across the room. I'll have to see if I can find a close up of what she is knitting, it is too hard to make out in that photo.
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sun 07 Oct 2012, 10:32

Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sun 07 Oct 2012, 11:11

Ah, good on you ferval, problem solved! I've been fussing around trying to find those photos on non-flickr sites, can't copy and paste flickr stuff.
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sun 07 Oct 2012, 13:24

This knitting business must be popular and the real enthusiasts well heeled.

http://www.joycejamestours.com/2013/Scotland/index.html
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5684
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sun 07 Oct 2012, 13:34

One of those "knitting madonna" pictures on that Flickr page is very odd. Not only is she not knittting in it but Baby Jesus seems to have acquired a pair of Ray Bans.



Look at her finger - you can almost hear the high pitched "Coochey, coochey, coo!" on the implied soundtrack.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sun 07 Oct 2012, 14:30

And Jesus seems to be saying 'oh not again, get a grip mother'

The descriptions of the painting say Mary is holding her knitting in one hand and a needle in the other, which Jesus is clasping. The Madonna dell'Umilta by Vitale da Bologna 1353.
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sun 07 Oct 2012, 23:16

Instead of the knitting Madonna, how about the knitted Madonna?




Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Mon 08 Oct 2012, 05:39

Have you been looking in the Catholic Women's Knitting Association sites ferval? lol

When trawling the net for info I found heaps of such groups, it was a real eye opener. It seems because a few medieval men (with their heads in ga ga land) painted Mary knitting, then it must be a sanctioned and blessed pass time. She's one of us!
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Mon 08 Oct 2012, 09:20

What I choose to do in private for a cheap thrill is no one's business but my own.

It's interesting though that tubular knitting came first so would that suggest that it derived from making something like fish traps and nets which were that shape?
Back to top Go down
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Mon 08 Oct 2012, 09:56

The very question I've been trying to find the answer to and as far as I've been able to determine, no-one knows nor knows exactly when knitting first began.

Knitting definitely came from the East, and seems (to me) to be the natural progression from naalbinding, which was circular also. Some theories suggest that naalbinding was derived from the making of nets, and then later used to make garments that need to be circular like socks, mittens and caps. But when (and if) the technique moved from using a single sewing needle to 4 knitting needles is shrouded in mystery.

I suppose the problem is that the materials used were organic, so it is extremely rare to find items that could have survived in the ground?
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
avatar

Posts : 5684
Join date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Mon 08 Oct 2012, 10:10

Mary knitting seems to have become a popular depiction first in Italian paintings of the 14th century, more or less when the practise became popular amongst women of higher social strata within that culture. However it seems simply to have been a variation on earlier depictions of Mary sewing and Mary weaving, a long tradition in iconography associating Mary with the "seamless garment" mentioned in the gospels over which Roman soldiers argued at the crucifixion. During the Middle Ages there were several shrines to this garment - even today both Trier and Moscow claim to have it and its exposition excites huge frenzies of devotion amongst the various faithfuls.

By the 14th century Mary as the "clother" of Jesus was an established part of her role in the myth, as was her role as mother of course - traditionally depicted as mother and baby. These paintings simply combine the two.

She got up to other stuff while Jesus was a baby. Here she is clubbing any nasty that dared come near the little dote. These images were also interpreted during the Middle Ages to represent the "extermination of heresy".



Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.historyboard.net
Islanddawn
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2103
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Tue 09 Oct 2012, 05:42

Mary was the first wonder woman, she could do just about everything and whilst sitting around all day with Jesus on her lap. I often wondered, if Jesus was such a divine being capable of performing miracles, why he didn't help with it all a bit? The nuns were never best pleased with those sorts of questions and ideas, needless to say.

The first known knitting pattern to be published was in 1655, until then patterns were probably through word of mouth. I'm trying to find a copy of the pattern (if it exists) and more information, but I did come across this fascinating file on the re-creation of Eleanor of Toledo's crimson silk stockings from 1562. The devised pattern and image of the original are at the bottom of the pages. http://arts.atenveldt.org/Portals/arts/Articles/knit.pdf

I find it odd, that during the Tudor period, knitting as a profession was dominated by men and up until they later deemed women could knit also. Especially after all those Medieval depictions of women knitting.

Men dominated nearly all of the trades in medieval Europe. “When knitting reached its zenith during the
Elizabethan and Tudor periods, it was again men who created the magnificent multicolored garments and
carpets, the completion of which was a requirement for memberships in the professional knitting guilds
that marked this era.”3
“The exact origins of the craft of knitting are unknown … In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries,
the formation of Knitting and Hosiery Guilds in Europe brought high standards of craftsmanship
and design. In order to become a Master Knitter the apprentice was obliged to serve for six years,
three spent learning and three spent travelling, before spending thirteen weeks producing his
‘Masterpieces’. These were:
a) a carpet, 4 ells square …
b) a beret or cap.
c) a woollen [sic] shirt.
d) a pair of hose with ornate clocks.”4
The list above was most likely based on Strasbourg statutes of 1605.5 By the end of the 16th century
women were knitting. “At Winchester in 1578 the House of Correction articles provided that women
should spin and knit.
Back to top Go down
FrederickLouis
Aediles
avatar

Posts : 71
Join date : 2016-12-13

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Thu 22 Dec 2016, 00:54

On one episode of The Flintstones, Wilma Flintstone was knitting. She had knitting needles and yarn. Her yarn was attached right to the sheep. Wilma kept repeating, "Knit one, pearl two." as she knitted.
Back to top Go down
Meles meles
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2849
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Thu 22 Dec 2016, 17:55

FL .. I do seriously advise you not to mock the ResHis knitters as they are a formidable force to be reckoned with ... lets face it, knitting is just about the only thing ID, Ferval and Priscilla have ever fully agreed on. Wink

But I also earnestly advise you to look up Les Triconteuse, ... a name which means simply 'the knitters' in French ..... but also, and rather more specifically, it refers to those ladies who, during the Revolution, turned up every day to knit, watch and applaud, while the condemned were led to the guillotine. Accordingly it was also wise not to mess with them.
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 739
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sat 24 Dec 2016, 17:39

I can remember as a child (sorry if this appears earlier in the thread and I've not read back far enough) doing tubular or "French" knitting (as we called it in my neck of the woods) using an old-fashioned wooden sewing reel with four (small) nails knocked into the top of it.  Nowadays of course sewing reels are made of plastic so there are commercially available knitting "looms" or "dollies".  French knitting grew so slowly and was so thin that I wasn't that enthusiastic about it really.  My knitting done on two needles tends to grow slowly so I tend to use crochet if I want to make a garment (by a means other than sewing).  I'm doing some crochet at the moment because I cut out some pieces to make gloves (using the turkey claw - or without a gusset - method) and when I sewed the gloves together they were too small so I'm crocheting around the outside boundary to make the pieces larger.

ID I have known some blonde Jewish ladies though I haven't asked if they were natural blondes or not.
Back to top Go down
ferval
Censura
avatar

Posts : 2550
Join date : 2011-12-27

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sat 24 Dec 2016, 18:20

Yes indeed MM, an offended Res His contributor wielding a pair of no 5's can do a lot of damage.

I made those 'rat's tails' as well, LiR, but I never quite knew what to do with them, the only option seemed to be coiling them into table mats which were admired, put away and never reappeared.
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 739
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sat 24 Dec 2016, 21:09

Gosh now you mention it, they do look like "rat's tails" don't they, Ferval?  I did an online search and found a blog entry http://www.domesblissity.com/2013/08/22-things-to-do-with-french-knitting.html which shows various items made from French knitting.  The only one I really like is the toy octopus' tentacles. It's a bit too time consuming for me really when one can plait or crochet a strand a lot more quickly (well I can - there may be some really fast French knitters out there). Some of the shop-bought (well I think they're shop-bought) French knitting appliances look a bit like a circular version - only  with a hole in the middle of the board- of a childhood (well from my childhood though I think adults played it too) game where one moved small pegs with the aim of having just one peg left in the centre of the board.  I can't for the life of me remember the name of that game.
Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
avatar

Posts : 1103
Join date : 2012-01-09

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Sat 24 Dec 2016, 23:22

I liked French knitting but like Ferval I never knew what to do with it.  And I probably got sick of it before it got long enough anyway.

I haven't done
any knitting recently - not sure if I still can.  The only knitting I have done in the last twenty years has been a jersey/top for each of my four grandsons.


Last edited by Caro on Mon 26 Dec 2016, 20:59; edited 1 time in total
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Decemviratus Legibus Scribundis
avatar

Posts : 739
Join date : 2013-09-16

PostSubject: Re: The History of Knitting.   Mon 26 Dec 2016, 14:05

I don't want people to think I've been living on my nerves for anything but I do find that making small items can be soothing.  I was somewhat worried when my haemoglobin count plummeted a few months ago before I had the "coeliac" diagnosis.  (Small) hand sewing projects and knitting/crochet ones I find can be beneficial.  Having a go at various crafts was one of the things I meant to do in my retirement but of course I've not done as much as I intended to.

Caro, a lady from U3A (she's moved now and if she goes to U3A goes in another town) had a son who adopted, with his wife of course, three children whose parents basically couldn't cope.  That was very sad because his wife had had a hysterectomy when she really wasn't old.

Getting back on topic I suppose modern commercial machines that knit in the round are based (roughly) on French knitting.  If anyone is interested the information about the machine starts at about 1.09 - before that it's an advert for the stuff the company makes.
Back to top Go down
 

The History of Knitting.

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of people ... :: Sport and Pastimes-