Since I’ve been an enthusiastic knitter for years I was interested in learning something about the origins of this wonderful craft. I hope you enjoy reading what I found out.
Very little is known about when and where people began to knit because knitting is made of organic fibers like wool and silk that decay rapidly. So the oldest archeological finds of knitted clothes in the Middle East originate from early post-Christian times. From the Middle East knitting techniques spread to Spain. The earliest knitted items in Europe were probably made by Muslim knitters that were employed by noble Spanish families.
From Spain knitting spread to the whole of continental Europe during the Middle Ages and by the 12th century it was already an advanced craft. The first knitters‘ guild was founded in Paris in the 13th century, followed by similar organizations in other European countries. Knitting was mainly a male occupation at this time and only men were admitted to the guilds. The knitters‘ apprenticeship lasted at least seven years.
It was not until the 15th century that knitting reached Britain. During the next hundred years an active knitting industry developed here. Queen Elizabeth I, who was queen of England from 1558 until 1603, passed a large number of laws and regulations to support and protect this trade. She ordered for example that on Sundays and Holy days every male over the age of six had to wear a woolen cap made in England.
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A short history of knitting