The History of Knitting: Where It All Began

Ever wondered who’s picked up the knitting needles before you? The history of knitting shows just how many people and professionals have sat down with their latest knitting projects, either to create a functional garment to keep warm or to craft a beautiful masterpiece to be admired. 

The Foundry Works stocks endless rolls of hand-dyed yarn to help you create your own piece and join a long tradition of dedicating time to carefully crafted designs. We’ve put together a quick history of knitting to show you just how far your favourite hobby has come over the years. 

A Whistle-Stop Tour Through the History of Knitting

The Early Years

Did you know hand knitting originated in the Middle East? The very first knitted garments are thought to have been first created as early as the 13th century in Egypt, with fragments of finely knitted socks being found in Egyptian tombs. 

While the experts don’t always agree on how this timeline fits in with the wider history of knitting, the intricacy and detail of the beautiful patterns created show just how much of a craft and passion knitting has always been. 

Taking Part in European Traditions

A key turning point in the history of knitting, professional knitting began to take place in Spain in the 13th century. Back then, knitting wasn’t viewed as the handcrafted hobby it is today though – prestigious knitting guilds admitted men only, allowing them to practise their craft and develop even more intricate, wealthy patterns to sell around the world. 

By the time dedicated knitters had sprung up around Europe, things had started to change a little. Fishermen in the British Isles crafted thick cable knit jumpers with beautiful patterns that are still well-known today, knitting warm, weatherproof jerseys that were thick enough to stand the hours spent on the sea. 

Sitting down with needles and yarn continued to be a popular pastime, with even Queen Victoria taking up the trend. These high-profile knitting fans meant that knitting began to take over as a productive passion for everyone to enjoy, rather than a secretive trade that only a chosen few could take part in.

The history of knitting played a role in helping the war effort too. Just as new stitch fans are keeping calm and carrying on during the worldwide lockdowns in 2020, a whole generation of knitters took up their needles in the Second World War. The love for knitting didn’t stop after the war was over, either. New avid knitters enjoyed a surge in brightly coloured wool and hand-dyed yarn, creating beautiful new patterns in a whole range of hues, just like you can today. 

A Knitting Renaissance

As 2020 has panned out a little differently than most of us expected, more and more people have found new ways to entertain themselves. In many ways, the history of knitting is now enjoying a second wind, with knitting fans helping the practice grow in popularity one stitch at a time. Knitting clubs and classes mean that instead of being a secretive trade, everyone who wants to find their perfect pattern and have a go can do! 

This time around in the history of knitting, independent yarn is taking centre stage, letting an increasing number of knitwear lovers enjoy beautiful colours and patterns once more. The era of mass-produced clothing is coming to an end. Instead, both the consumers and crafters among us are choosing to invest their time and money in individual pieces and yarns that are truly one of a kind, as well as enjoying sitting with their needles while they do so. 

From knitting kits to needles and pattern guides, The Foundry Works stocks everything you need to join a long tradition of knit-lovers creating the most beautiful pieces and patterns. Get in touch to find out more about our unique hand-dyed yarn and accessories today. 


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