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Textile fragment

Textile fragment

  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)

  • Date:

    410-540 AD (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wool, single-needle knitting

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Egyptian 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’. This sock, made in this method, was excavated from Christian burial grounds of the late Roman period, found in the present-day city of al-Bahnasa in Egypt. It shows that these socks wore out frequently due to friction with the sandals, but were expertly mended using the same single-needle knitting technique.

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

A sock of medium brown wool worked in single-needle knitting with big toe made separately. Shaped at the heel. Much worn and mended in the same technique. Gauge is 10 stitches and 12 rows per inch.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)


410-540 AD (made)



Materials and Techniques

Wool, single-needle knitting


Length: 22.5 cm approx., Width: 9.3 cm approx., Height: 13 cm approx.

Object history note

Excavated from Christian burial grounds in the late Roman city of Oxyrynchus (now known as al-Bahnasa) during excavations by the Egypt Exploration Fund during the winter of 1903/4.

Historical significance: This is a rare example of the single-needle knitting technique and in particular illustrates how such socks were mended.

Descriptive line

Egyptian, 410-540 AD, single-needle knitting, brown wool, heavily mended

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.88, catalogue no.594




Single-needle knitting


Clothing; Africa


Middle East Section

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