This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Knitting. The art of forming loose fabrics or textures with the use of needles or wires and a single continuous thread. Crocheting is an analagous art, differing from knitting in the fact that the separate loops are thrown off and finished successively, whereas in knitting the whole series of loops which go to form one length or round of the web are retained on one or more needles, while a new series is being formed from them on a separate needle. Another art also similar to knitting, is that of netting. Netting is performed by knotting into meshes that cannot be unraveled, while knitting is, by a certain arrangement of loops so connected with each other as to be highly elastic without separation, yet capable of being unraveled and having the same thread applied to any other use. Knitting is really carried on without making knots; the destruction of one loop threatens the de-struction of the whole piece, unless the meshes are reunited. It is claimed for this art that it must necessarily be much more ancient than can be verified by direct statements - that it is, in fact, one of the earliest of domestic arts. The simplicity of the operation, and the ease with which it may be learned and performed, make it probable that knitting was known and practiced in very ancient times. Beckman, in The History of Inventions, says: "It may be so easily acquired, even by children, as to be considered almost an amusement. It does not interrupt discourse, distract the attention, or check the powers of imagination. It forms a ready resource, when a vacuity occurs in conversation; or when a circumstance occurs which ought to be heard or seen, but not treated with too much seriousness, the prudent knitter then hears or sees what she does not wish to seem to hear or see. Knitting does no injury either to the body or the mind. It occasions no prejudicial or injurious position; requires no straining of the eyesight; and can be performed with as much convenience standing or walking as when sitting. It may be interrupted without loss, and again resumed without trouble; and the whole apparatus for knitting, which is cheap, needs so little room and is so light that it can be kept and gracefully carried about in a work-basket; the beauty of which displays the expertness, or at any rate the taste of the fair artist. Knitting belongs to the few occupations of old persons who have not lost the use of their hands." For an account of the invention and history of machine-knitting, see Hoisery and Knit Goods.