Textile Fragment

50 AD - 220 AD (made)
Textile Fragment thumbnail 1
Textile Fragment thumbnail 2
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Before the technique of knitting with two needles evolved, textiles with a very similar structure and texture were created by a technique known as ‘single-needle knitting’. This sock, made in this method, was intended to be worn with sandals, as the big toe is shaped separately from the other toes. It was excavated from Christian burial grounds of the late Roman period, found in the present-day city of al-Bahnasa in Egypt.

This used yarn threaded through the eye of a sewing needle worked in the round through a series of loops. It was much more laborious and slower than knitting with two needles, as the yarn could only be worked in short lengths. Extra pieces of yarn had to be spliced on as the ‘knitting’ progressed.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Wool, single-needle knitted
Brief Description
Egyptian, 50-220 AD, single-needle knitting, purple wool, ribbing
Physical Description
A sock with big toe worked separately from the others, single-needle knitted in purple wool (dyed with red and blue dyes). It has a narrow 'tongue' at the front of the ankle, laced to the rest of the sock. There is one inch of ribbing at the top of the sock and the heel is shaped. The guage is 9 stitches and 12 rows per inch.
Dimensions
  • Approx. length: 21.5cm
  • Approx width: 8.4cm
  • Approx. height: 10cm
Style
Credit line
Given by the Egypt Exploration Fund
Object history
Found at Oxyrhynchus (modern Behneseh), 1896-97 excavation season.
Summary
Before the technique of knitting with two needles evolved, textiles with a very similar structure and texture were created by a technique known as ‘single-needle knitting’. This sock, made in this method, was intended to be worn with sandals, as the big toe is shaped separately from the other toes. It was excavated from Christian burial grounds of the late Roman period, found in the present-day city of al-Bahnasa in Egypt.



This used yarn threaded through the eye of a sewing needle worked in the round through a series of loops. It was much more laborious and slower than knitting with two needles, as the yarn could only be worked in short lengths. Extra pieces of yarn had to be spliced on as the ‘knitting’ progressed.
Bibliographic Reference
A F Kendrick, Catalogue of Textiles From Burying-Grounds in Egypt, Vol II, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1920, p.88, catalogue no.592
Collection
Accession Number
1936-1897

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record createdOctober 31, 2006
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