What Came First: Weaving or Knitting?

The debate of which craftsmanship came first has been around for centuries. Weaving is said to originate in the Middle East while knitting was made with natural fibers such as cotton, wool and silk.

What Came First: Weaving or Knitting?

The debate of which craftsmanship came first, weaving or knitting, has been around for centuries. While it is difficult to trace the exact time when these activities existed, it is believed that weaving is the youngest craftsmanship between spinning and weaving.


is said to originate in the Middle East and knitting was made of natural fibers such as cotton, wool and silk. These materials break down easily, making it even more difficult to trace the time when this activity existed. The oldest knitted items have been found in Egypt and are dated between the 11th and 14th centuries AD.

Spanish Christian royal families employed Muslim weavers and their works are the first known knitwear in Europe. They were very skilled and made a lot of different items, such as cushion covers and gloves. Archaeological findings from many cities in Europe show that the fabric spread across Europe in the 14th century. During the 16th century, weaving spread throughout Great Britain. In the Scottish Islands, during the 17th and 18th centuries, weaving became a concern for many.

There were cases of entire families knitting as a form of work and it became an important source of income. Sweaters were one of the main items that were knitted because they were useful to local fishermen on these islands. Over time, many elaborate designs were developed. The main problem with the dating of textile arts is the inevitable deterioration of final products. Long ago, knitwear and other fabric crafts were only made with natural fiber yarns that broke down easily, such as cotton or silk.

We know that handmade fabric craftsmanship has been in our world for tens of centuries. Ancient Greek mythology has gods and goddesses as spinners and weavers, so it is possible that knitting is just as old. When a pair of cloth socks was discovered in Egypt around 300 A. D., everyone was thrilled to think that weaving began in the first centuries, A. D.

However, on closer examination, it was found that these socks were not created with two needles, but with one, in a technique called nalebinding. Fabrics made with nalebinding and knitting look eerily similar, but nalebinding creates fabric knots, rather than loops like in knitting. Nalebinding is also a much harder and more time-consuming ship, one that could only look good if made by a master. Any fragment of true tissue, then, is dated to a much later time. A pair of elaborate socks, including intricate colors, are the oldest knitted item we have found.

These fragments date back to Egypt, around 1000-1400 A. Unlike weaving, weaving does not require a loom or other large equipment, making it a valuable technique for nomadic and non-agrarian peoples.

Jaclyn Easterbrooks
Jaclyn Easterbrooks

Passionate zombie fanatic. Friendly musicaholic. Hipster-friendly beer maven. Total internet lover. Evil beer ninja.

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