History of Knitwear

Of course, at DC Knits, we love knitwear. Like many people, the ability to knit your own fabric is a hobby like none other; one that, for our case, grew into a passion, and, eventually, a full-flung business.

But it’s always worth keeping in mind that knitwear has a storied past, and that today’s knitters—especially as the hobby has made a huge comeback in recent years—owe their craft to those who came before.

Knitwear first made an appearance in ancient Egypt before 1000 AD; that’s when historians found the first knitted item ever discovered: socks. The craft is said to have its origins in the Middle East, and then spread to Europe via trade routes. Around the 13th century AD, the Spanish Royal Family was the first in Europe to appear with knitwear, having employed Muslims knit garments and accessories. But anthropologists have found artifacts from major cities around Europe, suggesting that its popularity was contagious.

Throughout the Middle Ages, knitting guilds began to appear in different cities, as knitting became as distinguished as a trade as masonry, or steelwork. These guilds were made up of men who trained in knitting over a span of six years, which included traveling to other countries to learn different techniques. That handcraft, however, would soon be threatened by the Industrial Revolution, when the loom and steam-powered knitting machines began to streamline the work in factories.

But over time, knitting has persisted as a passion, and technique. During the 1920s, knitwear became fashionable for flappers to wear. In the Great Depression, knitting grew into an essential talent for every family to know, especially for those who couldn’t afford clothes otherwise. During World War II, British wives knitted day in and day out to make scarves, gloves, and other clothing supplies for the troops. And in the 1950s and 1960s, knitwear continued to be considered haute couture in many circles.

After decades of decline, knitwear has returned to prominence due to the Internet, and the artisanal revolution that is underway. At DC Knits, we couldn’t be happier. To find out more about knitwear and the history of knitting, contact us today!