Sock thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Sock

1100-1300 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This is the earliest example of true, or double-needle, knitting in the Museum’s collections. It was made in North Africa, about 1100–1300, during the period of Islamic rule. The blue and white abstract design echoes the colour combinations and patterning found in Islamic ceramics. The sock was worked from toe to top, and a break in the pattern on the left-hand side suggests a join characteristic of knitting in the round. There is evidence on either side of insertions for a heel. The gauge varies from ten stitches per twelve rows per inch at the toe to 7 stitches per ten rows per inch at the top, suggesting that shaping was achieved by changing the size of the needles as the knitting progressed.
read The history of hand-knitting While the origins of knitting are unclear, we know it has been practised in many different parts of the world, over many centuries, producing objects of great beauty as well as items fulfilling practical needs. When done by hand, it has used simple tools, such as hand-carved sticks of wood...
read Knitted underwear Whether socks or swimwear, long johns or leggings, knitting has been as important to what we put on under our clothes as to the clothes themselves. Some of the earliest knitted items were underwear and the growth of the machine-knitting industry was based on underwear's popularity. Even on...
object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Cotton, hand knitted
Brief Description
Knitted sock?, fragment; Egypt; 1100-1300?
Physical Description
A fragment of knitting, possibly remains of a sock, in blue and white cotton. It is worked in bands of blue lozenges against a white ground, alternating with 'N' and reverse 'N' motifs in white against blue. A break in the pattern on the left-hand side suggests a join characteristic of knitting in the round. There is evidence on either side of insertions for a heel. Worked toe to top. Gauge varies from 10 stitches/12 rows per inch at the toe to 7 stitches/10 rows per inch at the top, suggesting that shaping was achieved by changing the size of the needles as the knitting progressed.
Dimensions
  • Approx. length: 50cm
  • Approx. width: 27.5cm
Style
Credit line
Given by Mrs Russell
Object history
Registered File number 1929/8848.



Historical significance: The earliest example of true (double-needle) knitting in V&A collections
Summary
This is the earliest example of true, or double-needle, knitting in the Museum’s collections. It was made in North Africa, about 1100–1300, during the period of Islamic rule. The blue and white abstract design echoes the colour combinations and patterning found in Islamic ceramics. The sock was worked from toe to top, and a break in the pattern on the left-hand side suggests a join characteristic of knitting in the round. There is evidence on either side of insertions for a heel. The gauge varies from ten stitches per twelve rows per inch at the toe to 7 stitches per ten rows per inch at the top, suggesting that shaping was achieved by changing the size of the needles as the knitting progressed.
Bibliographic Reference
Richard Rutt, A History of Handkniting, London: Batsford, 1987, p.36
Collection
Accession Number
T.201-1929

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record createdOctober 31, 2006
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