Where Did Knitting Originate – Brief Knitting History For You


Have you ever wondered where did knitting originate?

Who invented knitting?

How did it all start?

Knitting’s origins lie in the basic human need for clothing to protect us against the elements.  The word comes from the word knot, which is thought to originate from the Dutch verb ‘knutten’ which is similar to the Old English word ‘cnyttan’.

Knitting is a technique of producing fabric from a strand of yarn or wool. It is the process of using two or more needles to loop the yarn into a series of loops which are interconnected in order to create an item of clothing or length of fabric.

Unlike weaving, knitting does not require a loom or any other equipment apart from needles or even your fingers. This made it a valuable technique for nomadic and non-agrarian people.

The oldest knitted artifacts are socks from Egypt, dating from the 11th century CE.

It is believed that socks and stockings were the first types of things to be knitted.  The artifacts found were made by looping and knotting wool and using one needle.where did knitting originate

Where Did Knitting Originate

It is commonly believed that knitting started in the Middle East, where it eventually spread to Europe via the Mediterranean trading routes.

Through European colonization knitting then spread to America.

The Earliest known examples of knitting have been found in Egypt and there is a range of items, including cotton blue and white stockings and colorful woolen fragments which have been dated between the 11th and the 14th centuries CE.

In the Scottish Isles, knitting was considered very important during the 17th and 18th centuries.  Entire families got involved in knitting things like socks, stockings, sweaters, and various accessories.

The fair isle techniques were used to create elaborate patterns.  Sweaters were important garments for the fishermen of these islands because the natural oils in the wool protected them against the harsh winter weather encountered while out fishing.

In fact, many elaborate designs were invented in Ireland, including cable stitch during the early 20th century.

The first known mechanical knitting machine was developed in 1589 by William Lee of Calverton near Nottingham.  This was mainly used for the making of stockings.

As the years went on and technology got better, knitting machines evolved.

Strangely by the mid-nineteenth-century knitting factories had not evolved, even though knitting machines had.  But eventually the factories opened and hand knitting declined to just another hobby.

Over the years, knitting has gone through phases of popularity, depending on the fashion of the day.  However a big decline was seen during the 80’s, and knitting was seen as old-fashioned and something that only grannies did.where did knitting originate

The increased availability and low cost of machine-knitted items meant that consumers could have a sweater at the same cost of purchasing the wool and pattern themselves, or often for far less.

By the late 90’s a lot of the individual knitting shops had closed down or amalgamated with bigger chains.

Luckily during the 21st century and in the advent of the internet, knitting has once again been revived as many crafters can share their advice and thoughts with similar minded people over the internet.

Celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Dakota Fanning are seen knitting and advocating the craft.  Strangely lots of men have also started once again to learn to knit. Look at Stephen West for example.  I think this is because knitting can be very therapeutic.

If you are so inclined, you can even participate in the yearly knitting Olympics that started in 2006.  If you just enjoy knitting for fun, why not knit squares that can be made into a blanket for the needy.

I hope that you have enjoyed this article entitled “Where Did Knitting Originate?” If you have anything to add, please comment below.

If you want to read about how wool is made, click here.

9 thoughts on “Where Did Knitting Originate – Brief Knitting History For You”

  1. If you are going for best contents like myself, simply go to see this web site daily
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  2. Hi Michel, if you made this into a contest, I never would have guessed that the origin of knitting would be in the middle east, I would have chosen for Finland or Lithuania. In any case a cold country. 

    Very interesting read that knitting is originated in Egypt. I surfed around your website a bit, and I love the idea of felting in the washing machine. I am always on the look out for new ideas for crafting, thank you very much! Loes

    • Thanks for stopping by Loes. Yes I was also surprised that knitting didn’t originate in Europe somewhere, but we live and learn.

      Happy crafting!

  3. Love your article on the origins of knitting. Very interesting. I use to knit many years ago! I made a sweater. When I tried to put it on I couldn’t get it over my head. The ribbing was much to small. I stick to crocheting. Nice website. Easy to read and navigate. Thank you, Sandra

  4. Hi and thanks for this interesting article. I’m Scottish and was taught by my mother to knit as a young child. My mother and aunties always had knitting on the go and every evening after dinner it was a pleasant and relaxing passtime. As a teenager many of my friends also always had knitting on the go. We swapped ideas and checked out the latest patterns. Circular knitting for scarves, fair isle and arran for warm jumpers are always popular in Scotland. Great excitement accompanied a visit to the wool shop in Autumn to see the new stock. I’m glad to hear it seems to be making a come back. 

  5. Hi, I enjoy knitting and I am about to start knitting a nice fair isle hat for one of my friends. I have lived in Shetland all my life and started knitting when I was nine years old but didn’t know the origins of it.
    Trying to write up a presention about knitting for college I am hoping that your review will help.


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