The spread of knowledge of hand pin knitting

Weft knitting, using the fingers to produce open loop structures, may well have been practised long before the use of hand-held pins. Hand pin knitting was first recorded in religious paintings in 1350 in Northern Italy. It then spread through the rest of Europe [2]. Maitre Bertram's painting of Mary knitting Christ's seamless garment (Fig. 2.1) is dated to just before 1400. Unfortunately, Christ's garment is more likely to have been made by the 'sprang' or braiding technique, in a similar manner to the vestments of Saint Cuthbert [3].

Cap knitting was established as a technique in Britain by 1424, and by 1488 Parliament controlled the price of knitted caps. Coarse woollen stockings may have been worn prior to 1600 but they were not as fine as woven cloth stockings cut on the bias to give greater extensibility. Henry VIII (1509-1547) was the first British

Fig. 2.1 The Madonna knitting Christ's seamless garment. The earliest recorded illustration of a knitted garment. Part of a church architectural painting by Maitre Bertram (1345-1415)

[Hamburg Kunsthalle Museum].

Fig. 2.1 The Madonna knitting Christ's seamless garment. The earliest recorded illustration of a knitted garment. Part of a church architectural painting by Maitre Bertram (1345-1415)

[Hamburg Kunsthalle Museum].

monarch to wear fine expensive knitted silk stockings. Queen Elizabeth I wore them in about 1561 and was so impressed by their elasticity and fineness that she never again wore cut and sewn woven hose [4]. In 1564 William Rider knitted a pair of worsted stockings by copying a pair knitted in Italy.

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