January 6, 2009

The History of Knitting and Crocheting- Part 1 of 2

Origins of Knitting and Crocheting- Part 1 Do you ever wonder how someone first came up with how to knit, or how to crochet? Do you ever marvel at the knowledge that God has gifted humans with to discover, invent, and continually learn new things every day? I know I do! To think that someone could create an object called yarn, and then figure out how to twist it in all different ways with different tools to create pieces of fabric is awe-inspiring to me!Today I'm featuring the history of knitting in my own words, and tommorow will be the history of crochet. I hope you enjoy! The earliest artifact with an appearance of a technique similar to knitting was a type of sock worked in Naelbinding, a technique of making fabric by creating multiple knots or loops with a single needle and thread. Many of these existing clothing items employed nålebinding techniques; some of them look very similar to true knitting. The first references to true knitting in Europe date from the early 14th century. The first knitted socks from Egypt are older; some scholars date them to the 11th century.At this time, the purl stitch (the opposite action to the knit stitch) was unknown; stockinette fabric was produced by knitting in the round and then cutting the piece open (a process now known as steeking). The first reference to the purl stitch dates from the mid-16th century, but the technique may have been developed slightly earlier. During the Elizabethan period the manufacturing of stockings was vastly important to many of the Britons, who knitted with fine wool, and exported their wares. Schools for kni9tting were est. as a way of providing income to the poor; the fashion of the period, for men to wear short trunks, made the fitted stockings a fashion statement. Stockings made in England were sent to the Netherlands, Spain, and Germany. Even Queen Elizabeth I favored silk stockings, some of which still exist. Men were the first to knit as an occupation. Kntting was a vast occupation for those living on the Scottish Isles during the 17th and 18th centuries. The whole family would be involved in the creation of sweaters, accessories, socks, stockings, etc. Fair Isle techniques were used to create elaborate, colorful patterns. The sweaters were essential to the fishermen of these Isles, as the natural oils within the wool would provide some element of protection against the harsh weathers while out fishing. Many elaborate designs were developed, such as cable stitch used on Aran sweaters which were developed in the early 20th century in Ireland. Rudimentary knitting devices had been invented prior to this period, but were one-off creations. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, wool spinning and cloth manufacture began to be done in factories. More women would be employed at operating machinery, rather than producing their home spun and knitted items. The consistency of the factory spun wool was better in that it was more uniform, and the weight could be gauged better as a consequence. The city of Nottingham, particularly the district known as Lace Market, dominated the production of machine-knitted lace during the Industrial Revolution and the following decades. 1939-1945: Knitting for Victory A World War I poster encouraging people to knit socks for the troops. "Make do and mend" was the title of a booklet produced by the British wartime government department, the Ministry of Information. Wool was in very short supply, as were so many things. The booklet encouraged women to unpick any old, unwearable, woolen items in order to re-use the wool. Knitting patterns were issued for people to make items for the Army and Navy to wear in winter, such as balaclavas and gloves. This not only produced the much-needed items, but also gave a positive sense of achievement towards the war effort to individuals on the "home front" 1950s and 60s: Haute Couture After the war years, knitting had a huge boost as greater colors and styles of yarn were introduced. Many thousands of patterns fed a hungry market for fashionable designs in bright colors. The twinset was an extremely popular combination for the home knitter. It consisted of a short-sleeved top with a cardigan in the same color, to be worn together. Girls were taught to knit in school, as it was thought to be a useful skill, not just a hobby. Magazines such as "Pins and needles" in the UK, carried patterns of varying difficulty, with not just clothes, but items such as blankets, toys, bags, lace curtains and items that could be sold for profit. 1980s: The Decline The popularity of knitting showed a sharp decline during this period in the Western world. Sales of patterns and yarns slumped, as the craft was increasingly seen as old-fashioned and children were rarely taught to knit in school. 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. 21st century: The Revival Following this decline, the 21st century has seen one of the largest resurgences of the craft in history. Natural fibers from animals, such as alpaca, angora, and merino, and plant fibers, chiefly cotton, have become easier and less cost-prohibitive to collect and process, and therefore more widely available. Consumers will find that exotic fibers, such as silk, bamboo, and qiviut, have a growing popularity behind them as well. Some focus within the yarn industry has been turned to making novelty yarns, which could produce stunning results without years of knitting experience. Designers have begun to create patterns which work up quickly on large needles, a phenomenon known as instant-gratification knitting. Celebrities, including Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, Dakota Fanning, and Cameron Diaz, have been seen knitting and have helped to popularize the revival of the craft. The new millennium has also seen a return by men to the art of knitting. As time and technology change, so does the art of knitting. The Internet allows knitters to connect, share interests and learn from each other, whether across the street or across the globe. Among the first Internet knitting phenomena was the popular KnitList with thousands of members. In 1998, the first online knitting magazine, KnitNet, began publishing. Blogging later added fuel the development of an international knitting community. Patterns from both print and online sources have inspired groups (known as knit-a-long's, or KAL's) centered upon knitting of a specific pattern. Knitting podcasts, such as Cast-On and Knit Cast, have also emerged, with much cross-pollination of ideas from blogs, 'zines, and knitting books. Traditional designs and techniques that had been preserved by a relatively small number of hand-knitters are now finding a wider audience as well. On January 14, 2006 influential author and knit-blogger Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, otherwise known as Yarn Harlot, challenged the knitting world to participate in the 2006 Knitting Olympics.[1] To participate, a knitter committed to casting-on a challenging project during the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, and to have that project finished by the time the Olympic flame was extinguished 16 days later. By the first day of the Olympics, almost 4,000 knitters had risen to the challenge. And that folks- is the History of Knitting as we know it! Thanks to Wikipedia.

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