Looking to impress your friends and knitting buddies and educate yourself at the same time? Here’s 30+ fascinating fun facts about knitting I bet you never knew!
I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on May 22, 2023.
30+ Knitting Fun Facts
1 Knitting’s Age
Knitting is older than crochet and younger than weaving. One of the earliest examples in knitting’s history was cotton socks found in Egypt, dated to the first millennium CE. They had a decorative Arabic script on them.
No one knows for sure how old knitting is.
2 The Speediest Knitter
The world’s quickest knitter is Miriam Tegels from the Netherlands. She knits 118 stitches in one minute! The fastest US knitter is Linda Benne from Mississauga.(1)
3 Only Men Allowed!
It started as a male-only occupation! When the first knitting guild (first knitting union), established in Paris in 1527, no women could join. Some people think men knitting might have started because they needed fishing nets.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was common for whole families in Scotland to knit jumpers, socks and accessories. Drawings show men who were shepherds, sailors, and fishermen knitting while they were working.
4 Early Knitting Needles
Early knitting needles materials were ivory, tortoiseshell (tortoise shell), and bone.
5 A Royal Influence
Queen Victoria was a keen knitter until her death. During her reign, there was an explosion of the craft industry, including the knitting industry. This boosted trade.
6 The Etymology Of Knit
The word “knit” is from the old English word cnyttan, “to knot.” It wasn’t added to the dictionary until the late 1400s.
7 The Origins Of Knitting Yarn
For the first 400 or 500 years of knitting, people used silk and cotton. No wool!
8 The First Automation
The full-fashioned knitting machine was invented by William Cotton of Leicestershire, England (between 1865-1864). Once the knitting machine was invented, knitting by hand because more of a hobby than a way to earn money.
The first prototype was created as early as 1589 by William Lee in England.
9 An Ancient Technique
An ancient technique, called Nålbinding, used one knitting needle. It was a cross between knitting and crochet. Even the Ancient Egyptians used it! Many ancient textile fragments that were thought to be knitting have been found to be Nålebinding.
10 The Origins Of Knitting
Historians say further proof knitting began in the Middle East is how knitters work their stitches. Though English speakers write from left to right, knitters work the stitches from right to left.
The history of knitting isn’t well known because fabrics used for knitting are fibers that decay quickly. It’s hard to distinguish knitting needles from other sharp objects like a sharpened stick or hair picks in an archaeological dig.
Some historians say knitting is a new invention because there are no ancient legends of people knitting. There are, however, ancient legends of spinning and weaving.
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11 Global Knitting Styles
Most people in Australia, New Zealand, and England use the English knitting style. Most people in Japan, Greece, Turkey, Peru, Bolivia and Portugal use the Continental style. It’s evenly split in the US.
12 Famous People Knit Too!
Here are some well-known people who enjoy this hobby.
- Julia Roberts
- Julianna Margulie
- Russell Crowe
- Demi Lovato
- Vanna White
- Meryl Streep
- Cameron Diaz
- Robin Williams
- Sarah Jessica Parker
- Tom Daley
13 Hand Knitting While Running?
David Babcock set a new Guinness World Record during a Kansas City marathon, but not for how fast he was. He ran the race while knitting a scarf! I wonder what it would be like trying to make knit socks or knitted garments. Very tricky!
14 Knitters Congregate Online
Ravelry is an online community for knitters, crocheters, designers, and yarn lovers with over 8 million members.
15 It’s More Fun With Company
In 2012, knitters in the Royal Albert Hall in London set the record for the most people knitting simultaneously. 3,083 knitters!
16 The First Knitting Pattern Book
Susanna Dorothea Kriegl published an early pattern book devoted to knitting in 1761.
17 Kilometers Of Knitting?
The Guinness World Record holder for the longest French knitted fabric is Edward Hannaford, from the UK. His creation, as measured in 2016, is 31.42 km (19.929 miles) long!(2)
18 The Earliest Known Knitted Fabrics
Archeologists discovered samples of yarn and knitted fabric in Switzerland, and they’re thought to be over 7000 years old!
19 Secret Squirrel Business
During the Second World War, the Office of Censorship banned people from posting knitting patterns internationally. In case they contained coded messages! The Belgian resistance recruited old women to watch the trains from their windows and hide their observations in patterns.
20 Does It Count As Exercise?
Unbelievably, knitting for half an hour can burn 55 calories! Or try a few hours, which may burn up to 200 calories. Studies have also found knitting can help reduce anxiety, symptoms of depression, and relieve pain. It’s also been found to reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
Bonus Knitting Facts
- The current Guinness World Record for the longest time spent knitting in one go is 4 hours and 50 minutes.
- Jeannette Huisinga owns the world’s largest knitting needles. These needles are 25 pounds and 13′ feet long.
- Worldwide Knit Day started in 2005.
- The first painting of the Virgin Mary knitting appeared in the work Our Lady Knitting (circa 1325–1375).
- In 1566, King Eric of Sweden paid the same amount for a pair of knitted silk stockings from Spain as his valet made in a year.
- The number of women knitters in the US ages 25 – 35 increased by 150% from 2002 to 2004.
- The largest knitted objects are the 45 Uros Islands in Lake Titicaca in Peru. They’re made from reeds and can hold many people, buildings, and boats.
- Activism involving craft is called craftivism.
Hope you enjoyed these fun knitting facts! Now you know a little more about this fascinating hobby. Share interesting facts you may know in the comments below. Enjoy your newfound knitting knowledge!
- N.d. Thestar.com. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/11/29/mississauga_woman_reigns_supreme_as_north_americas_fastest_knitter.html.
- N.d. Guinnessworldrecords.com. Accessed November 4, 2022. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-french-knitting.