Any fabric which is knitted comes under the head of hosiery. Until 1589 all knitting was done by hand. At that time William Lee, a clergyman born at Woodbridge, England, and a graduate of Cambridge University, invented a knitting machine.

The peculiarity of knitting is that it is weaving with a single thread, and the machinery necessary to accomplish this is most ingenious and complex.

In 1758 Jedediah Strutt adapted the knitting machine to ribbed work, and this was the beginning of a great industry. Until 1816 all machine-knit garments were cut and made like others, with seams. In that year a machine was invented which wove garments and stockings without seams.

One great center of hosiery manufacture is Nottingham, England. There are a large number of manufactories in our own country where very beautiful goods are made. Some idea of the importance of hosiery can be formed from the fact that over 5,000 different articles are made of knitted fabrics.

Cheap hosiery is made on the circular stocking frame. The web is woven in the shape of a tube, and when it is long enough for a stocking it is cut off to form a foot and sewed up by machinery. A machine of this kind makes 1,000 stockings a day.