History of knitwear development
The earliest history of hand knitting dates back to the 3rd to 5th centuries A.D. A pair of wool socks from Egypt is on display in the VA Museum. These socks were made using the "nålbindning" technique, which is more of a laborious sewing technique than knitting, where the yarn is passed through the eye of a needle and then looped through a series of loops. So it is not a knitting technique, but in fact the earliest knitted goods come from Egypt around 1000-1400 AD, and are socks made of abstract patterns of white and blue.
Archaeological finds in many European cities indicate that knitwear spread throughout Europe in the 14th century, and knitted stockings were particularly popular because they were smoother and more elastic than other fabrics.
There are many 16th century knitted hats in the VA Museum collection, which were found during construction work on a house in London. Based on the location of the finds and the knitted hats it can be determined that these hats were made for the middle class.
The hand-knitted gloves are pre-16th century Spanish gloves made of red silk thread with silver wire wrapped in fine yellow thread, it was made for the bishop and decorated with religious motifs. It was also made using the circular Round knitting technique.
In 1589, a priest, William Lee, invented the first hand-knitting machine, but refused to grant William a patent because Queen Elizabeth I thought it would cost workers their livelihood, and later William Lee brought the machine to France. The operating principle of this knitting machine is still used today.
In the 17th and 18th centuries on many Scottish islands, knitting had become a very important part of people's lives, and they earned money by knitting, as sweaters, stockings, etc. were very useful to the local fishermen to help them withstand the harsh weather.
By the middle of the 18th century, the hosiery industry was booming. Stockings were produced in England for export to other parts of Europe, and the knitwear category expanded into other accessories such as hats, shawls, gloves, bags, etc., although stockings remained the most popular until the 20th century.
Another highly prized 18th century knitting collection in the VA Museum is a carpet. It is considered a fine example of connoisseur work. A knitted object that demonstrates technique includes a hat, a woolen coat, split-finger gloves and a patterned carpet or tapestry.
In 1816, the first circular knitting machine was built in England so that a commercially available knitted fabric with elastic properties in the form of a tube could be produced, which was undoubtedly ideal for underwear.
In the early 20th century, the commercial production of knitwear evolved from underwear to fashionable outerwear. With the interest in sports, outdoor activities and fitness, casual sportswear became increasingly popular.
In the 1920's, knitwear gained massive popularity in the Western world, especially pullovers, which became an important part of everyday wear for adults and children. High fashion also began to favor knitwear, such as Chanel's pullovers and sweatshirt dresses. vouge magazines often published patterns that included knitwear.
In the 1930s, fair isle patterns were still popular in knitwear. The pattern allowed for creative color combinations, thus reducing yarn waste, and became a major popular knitwear item during the depression-ridden 1930s.
During the Second World War, the British wartime government required people to make knitwear for the army and navy in the winter, and since wool was in short supply, many women would tear up old sweaters and remake them into new ones.
After the war in the 1950s and 1960s, countries began to recover from the great losses of the war, and the knitting industry received a huge boost, with bright colors and patterns beginning to appear in knitting.
By the 1980s and 1990s, the popularity of knitting declined dramatically and knitwear was considered old-fashioned and outdated.
It wasn't until the 21st century that the knitting industry recovered and a wider variety of yarn styles became available, such as natural animal fibers, alpaca, merino wool, mohair, etc.