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Wednesday, 18 November 2015



Although weaving dates back to prehistory, the earliest known example of knitting is a pair of cotton socks made in Egypt in 1100 AD

                                          Photo by Johntex Commonswiki

It is thought that knitting was introduced to the Middle East and Europe by soldiers, sailors, and traders from the East. The earliest known knitted items in Europe were made by Muslim knitters employed by Spanish Christian royal families. By the 15th century knitted clothing was common throughout Western Europe.

The first knitting guilds, or manufacturing groups, were set up in Paris in the mid-16th century. The original guilds were dominated by men. Women spun the yarn, and men did the weaving and knitting.

All knitting was done by hand until 1589. when the knitting machine was developed in Nottingham by an English clergyman William Lee (1550-1610) to knit stockings – it revolutionized the knitting industry. and his machine remained unchanged for 250 years.

William Lee presented a pair of knitted wool stockings to Queen Elizabeth I and asked for a patent on his machine. She refused, perhaps because she was afraid that the new machine would take work from her many subjects who made a living by hand knitting woolen clothing. Lee then moved to France with his brother James, taking nine workmen and nine frames. He found better support from the French king Henry IV, who granted him a patent.

Knitting became a major cottage industry in Britain, with up to two million pairs of stockings being exported to Europe a year towards the end of the 17th century. Silk stockings and woolen caps were the most desired garments.

In early America the hand knitting of garments was part of the domestic duties of every colonial woman and female child. Many pioneer and farm families depended upon women in the household for knitted clothing.

The knitting industry in North America was started in the 17th century with a machine that had been smuggled out of England. (English law forbade the exporting of machinery to the colonies to prevent the start of colonial manufacturing, which would create competition for English industries.)

By the mid-18th century, as the Industrial Revolution spread from Britain to the American colonies, most knitting was done by machines.

The first significant modification of the knitting machine was made by Jebediah Strutt in 1758, when he introduced rib knitting. The general principles of knitting embodied in Lee's original machine remain incorporated into most modern knitting technology.


Men are banned from knitting on the island of Jersey during the fishing season months of August and September.

The hook which holds the yarn at the end of a needle in a knitting machine is called a beard.

In 2008, the U.K.’s Susie Hewer knitted a scarf while running a marathon. It was five feet, two inches long.

The record for most people knitting at the same location is 3,083 at a Women’s Institute event at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 2012.

David Babcock, a professor of graphic design in Missouri, set a record of 3hr 56min for running a marathon while knitting in New York in 2014.

The world record for knitting with the largest needles is held by Julia Hopson of Penzance, Cornwall, who created a tension square of ten inches and ten rows in stocking stitch using needles of 2.5in in diameter and more than 11ft long.

Sources Daily Mail, Daily Express, Comptons, Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999.

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