Dictionaries define Knitting as “needlework created by interlacing yarn in a series of connected loops using straight eyeless needles or machines
Knitting is something that all of us are familiar. Hence one will feel inclined to know when and how the art of knitting by hand started.It is to be noted that yarn fibers are biodegradable. It is believed that knitting was practised even before the birth of Christ. Historians have found out that a pair of knitted socks that was discovered in Egyptian tombs dates from the 3rd to 6th centuries A.D. This can be considered ad the earliest archaeological evidence of knitted garments. The earliest knitting needle was made as brass rod that can be dated to early Iron Age.dates back to the early Iron Age. Spinning of wool started around 4000 B.C. near the Mediterranean Sea. The first wool factory that was established in England was build by the Romans in 50 A.D.
The early form of knitting is considered to be a crossed knitting.They were also known as single-needle knitting and pseudo knitting. In crossed knitting, the stitches are rotated a half turn instead of aligning vertically. This knitting method was highly developed by the Nazca culture in Peru (100 B.C.-A.D. 700) in the fringes of their woven cloths. Frequent color changes in these fringes were used to create intricate human and animal figures.
There are several theories with regard to the origins of knitting and it is very hard to trace them.There are several theories that talk about the art of knitting. It is believed that knitting might have started in Persia.While other thinkers think it might have originated from Israel, Jordan and Syria. Many feel that it might have started in the mountains of North Africa, or even Japan or China. It is assumed that knitting might have been the off shoot of knitting of fish-nets by men.
It has been found that some Egyptian burials have socks and other items made which were done using the crossed-knitting technique .The dates found are to be as far back as the 4th or 5th century B.C. There have been knitted socks found in Egyptian tombs (3rd and 6th centuries A.D).Knitted pieces were found at the Dura-Europas site near the Euphrates River (about A.D. 200).Sandal socks were from Saudi Arabia (about A.D. 350). It is to be noted that the earliest socks were worked in nalebinding technique; which was an ancient craft which often looks very similar to present day knitting. Many a times it might have confused many archaeologists with did not have any formal training in the history of needlework. A pair of patterned cotton socks from Egypt, dating from A.D.1100 is considered as a example of "true" knitting or that may be nalebinding too. Socks and stockings were the first items to be knitted because knitting was ideally suited for shaping a garment to fit the foot at a time when fabric and sewing woven cloth were less flexible.
The Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery by Mildred Graves Ryan says that most historians agree that knitting was probably spread by (probably male) Arabian sailors and merchants who traveled throughout the Mediterranean. Many people believe that knitting was first invented by Arabian nomads who carried the craft into Egypt, during the 5th century A.D. Knitting was then carried through North Africa, and into Spain. From Spain, traveling Catholics picked it up and spread it quickly throughout Europe.
It was only from the early 14th century that we have the first references to knitting in Europe. At that time, the purl stitch was unknown, which meant that in order to produce plain knitting, people had to knit in the round and then cut it open if they needed to. The first reference to purl stitch was not until the mid 16th century, but the knowledge of how to do it may have preceded that a little.
Although nobody knows exactly when knitting started. Knitting as we know it today is considered as a recent craft.It has be accepted as a crafts similar to true knitting, such as cross-knitting and nalebinding.It is noted that this was practiced in a lot of different countries and cultures too, from Japan to Egypt to Peru. Knitting clearly filled a need in people's making of garments which is still continuing and growing.