Implements of Constructions: The Origin of Knitting Needles


Most articles like this start with a history of the subject.  I have found this more difficult than expected to pull together. When looking for historic references of the origin of the knitting needle, they aren’t specifically called out.  

The origins of knitting, on the other hand, is quite commonly referenced.  The oldest knitted artifact is said to be a pair of socks dating back to 11thcentury Egypt.  Since the definition of the verb knit is to form by interlacing yarn or thread in a series of connected loops with needlesand it is distinguished from other fiber crafts as using 2 or more needles, it only makes since that knitting needles originated at the same time as the trade.  I could find no reference to ancient found knitting needles.  Google it… I dare you.

Some evidence of the origin of knitting needles is the often-cited paintings know as the collectively as the Knitting Madonnas.  Several paintings from Europe portray the Virgin Mary knitting and date from the 14th century, including the popular Our Lady Knitting by Tommaso da Modena and The Holy Family by Ambrogio Lorenzenti.  In Our Lady Knitting, Mary is portrayed using a set of four Double-Pointed Needles to work on a shirt collar.  

The Holy Family by Ambrogio Lorenzenti
Our Lady Knitting by Tommaso da Modena



















Double-pointed needles are a configuration I would have never imagined as being that old.  Who knew?!?

No matter the configuration, materials or size, the origin of modern knitting needles is as old as the craft itself.

Next up: More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Modern Knitting Needles

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