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Textile fragment

Textile fragment

  • Place of origin:

    Egypt (made)

  • Date:

    250 - 420 AD (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’. 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.

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.

Place of Origin

Egypt (made)


250 - 420 AD (made)



Materials and Techniques

Wool, single-needle knitting


Length: 12.5 cm approx., Width: 6.7 cm approx., Height: 4.5 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: A rare example of single-needle knitting and an unusual survival of a child's sock with an unshaped heel.

Descriptive line

C, single-needle knitting, 250-420 AD, Egyptian, wool, striped yellow and red, Oxyrhynchus

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.595.




Single-needle knitting


Clothing; Children's clothes; Africa


Middle East Section

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