Knitting is a method in which some kind of yarn is turned into cloth. The cloth basically consists of consecutive loops that are called stitches. New loops are put on to the existing loops to create rows on top of the initial stitches. The word knitting is said to have been derived from the word 'knot'. This in turn has been derived from the Dutch verb knutten.
Knitted cotton socks with color patterns are the earliest known examples of knitting. These were found in Egypt and have been dated back to the first millennium AD. The first knitting trade guild was formed in Paris in 1527 and interestingly the craft was mainly dominated males in the beginning. In the 1940's English knitting grew in popularity as continental knitting fell. This was mainly because continental knitting originated in Germany and was mainly spread across the countries in Europe by immigrants. During and after World War II the specific art fell in favor due to the association that it had with Germany. Continental knitting became popular again in the 1980's when Elizabeth Zimmermann started to make it popular again.
Once the knitting machine was developed there was no specific need to hand knit apparel. And therefore it has basically moved in and out of favor in the last 2 centuries. At the beginning of the 21st century there seemed to be a turn in the fortunes of hand knitting where the number of women who knitted increased by 150% in 2 years.
The first thing that needs to be done when you start knitting is to cast on the stitches. It is also called binding on in some places. This is the initial creation of the stitches on which the remaining stitches need to be created. The specific style that you use to cast on the initial stitches depends on the yarn that you are using.
The yarn that is sold for knitting is generally sold in the form of balls, skeins, spools or cones. The different kinds of yarn can be made from cotton, silk, synthetic material like rayon, acrylic or polyester, cashmere or wool. The yarns are also available on the basis of weight. Since there are so many variations in terms of the color, weight, fiber content and material most people tend to save a small sample in case they need to buy some more towards the end of the project. Most people also convert a skein or a hank into a ball to ensure easy management of the yarn. While this can be done by hand, there are also some tools that can be used for the same.
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