Textile Fragment

250 - 420 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 child’s sock, made in this method, was excavated from Christian burial grounds of the 3rd to 5th century 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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Wool, single-needle knitting
Brief Description
C, single-needle knitting, 250-420 AD, Egyptian, wool, striped yellow and red, Oxyrhynchus
Physical Description
A child's sock of striped red and yellow wool, in the single-needle technique with divided toe. The heel is worked in one piece.
Dimensions
  • Approx. length: 12.5cm
  • Approx. width: 6.7cm
  • Approx. height: 4.5cm
Style
Credit line
Given by the Egypt Exploration Fund
Object history
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: A rare example of single-needle knitting and an unusual survival of a child's sock with an unshaped heel.
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 child’s sock, made in this method, was excavated from Christian burial grounds of the 3rd to 5th century 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.
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.595.
Collection
Accession Number
1287-1904

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record createdOctober 31, 2006
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