Knitting creates multiple loops of yarn, called stitches, in a line or tube. Knitting has multiple active stitches on the needle at one time. Knitted fabric consists of a number of consecutive rows of interlocking loops. As each row progresses, a newly created loop is pulled through one or more loops from the prior row, placed on the gaining needle, and the loops from the prior row are then pulled off the other needle.
Knitting may be done by hand or by using a machine.
Different types of yarns (fibre type, texture, and twist), needle sizes, and stitch types may be used to achieve knitted fabrics with different properties (color, texture, weight, heat retention, look, water resistance, and/or integrity).
The word is derived from knot and ultimately from the Old English cnyttan, to knot.
Nlebinding (Danish: literally "binding with a needle" or "needle-binding") is a fabric creation technique predating both knitting and crochet. One of the earliest known examples of true knitting was cotton socks with stranded knit color patterns found in Egypt from the end of the first millennium AD.
The first commercial knitting guilds appear in Western Europe in the early fifteenth century (Tournai in 1429, Barcelona in 1496). The Guild of Saint Fiacre was founded in Paris in 1527 but the archives mention an organization (not necessarily a guild) of knitters from 1268.
With the invention of the knitting machine, knitting "by hand" became a craft used by country people with easy access to fiber. Similar to quilting, spinning, and needlepoint, hand knitting became a leisure activity for the wealthy.
The process of knitting has three basic tasks:
the active (unsecured) stitches must be held so they don't drop
these stitches must be released sometime after they are secured
new bights of yarn must be passed through the fabric, usually through active stitches, thus securing them.
In very simple cases, knitting can be done without tools, using only the fingers to do these tasks; however, knitting is usually carried out using tools such as knitting needles, knitting machines or rigid frames. Depending on their size and shape, the rigid frames are called stocking frames, knitting boards, knitting rings (also called knitting looms) or knitting spools (also known as knitting knobbies, knitting nancies, or corkers). There is also a technique called knooking of knitting with a crochet hook that has a cord attached to the end, to hold the stitches while they're being worked. Other tools are used to prepare yarn for knitting, to measure and design knitted garments, or to make knitting easier or more comfortable.