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Textile fragment

Textile fragment

  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)

  • Date:

    200-499 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wool, single-needle knitting

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Egypt Exploration Fund

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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’. Socks in this technique from the late Roman period were usually worked with the big toe separate, so that they could be worn with sandals. This piece was intended to cover the remaining four toes and was possibly worked to mend a worn sock. It was excavated from Christian burial grounds of the 3rd to 5th centuries AD, found in the present-day city of al-Bahnasa in Egypt.

Single-needle knitting 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.

Physical description

The section of a toe sock that would cover the 4 toes separately from the big toe, worked in brown wool in single-needle knitting. Worked in the round with increasing on one side. Gauge is 8 stitches and 14 rows per inch. Possibly worked as a separate piece to mend worn toes in another sock?

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)


200-499 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Wool, single-needle knitting


Width: 6 cm approx., Length: 3.5 cm approx.

Object history note

Found at Oxyrhynchus (modern Behneseh), 1896-97 excavation season.

Descriptive line

Sock, part

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

A F Kendrick, Catalogue of Textiles From Burying-Grounds in Egypt, Vol II, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1920, p.91, catalogue no.614




Single-needle knitting


Clothing; Africa


Middle East Section

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