Originally a male-only occupation, the first knitting trade guild was started
in Paris in 1527. Knitting became a household occupation with the growing
popularity of knitted stockings and by the end of the 1600s, one to two
million pairs of stockings were exported from Britain to other parts of
Knitting is one of several ways to turn
crochet). Unlike woven
fabric consists entirely
of parallel courses of yarn. The courses are joined to each
other by interlocking loops in which a short loop of one
course of yarn is wrapped over the
bight of another course. In practice, knitting is usually
begun (or "cast on") by forming a base series
of twisted loops of yarn on a
knitting needle. A second
knitting needle is then used to reach through each loop
(or stitch) in succession in order to snag a bight of yarn
and pull a length back through the loop. This forms a new
stitch at the top of the current wale of stitches (or loops).
Work can proceed in the round (circular
knitting) or by going back and forth in rows.
Knitting can also be done by
The two basic stitches are knit (or "plain")
and purl (or "wrong"). These two nominal stitches are
actually identical, however, being the obverse and reverse of the same stitch.
A knit stitch is formed by inserting the needle in the back of the loop
and pulling a loop of yarn through to form a new loop, while a purl stitch
is formed by inserting the needle in the front of the loop and pushing a
loop of yarn through to form a new loop.
If only knits or only purls are used when working back and forth in rows,
the result is called garter stitch. Alternating rows of knits and purls
result in stockinette or jersey stitch, the stitch most often used in commercial
garments such as
T-shirts. Different combinations of stitches
can be used to form ribbing, cables, or other textures. Complex patterns
can be formed by knitting with multiple colours in either intarsia or Fair
There are many regional styles of knitted garments with long histories,
aran sweaters, and Fair Isle patterning.
These are discussed in the
history of knitting.
Types of knitting needles include double-point, straight, and circular.