Why We Craft – Because We Love It

Another post in my Vintage Series! Why am I so obsessed with vintage stuff lately? Because we are hosting a CONTEST! Start a project inspired by something from 40 years ago (or more) and you’re in. Go here for all the info. Next prize goes out this Friday so hurry up and tell us that you’re in! 

Coptic socks' from Egypt, dating to around the year 1000 CE


The oldest recovered knitting, real knitting done with two sticks, is a pair of Coptic Socks from Egypt which date back to 1000 CE.




Before that we have evidence of nalbinding.

 The oldest nalbinding fragment, supposedly a piece of a mesh sieve made of plant fibers, is from a cave in Israel, Nahal Hemar, approximately 6500 BCE. Fragments found in Denmark date from 4200 BCE. In West China, Tarim basin area (Zaghunluq), several well preserved mummies with beautiful clothes have been found, from 1000 BCE.

nalbinding hat from 1000 BCE


The oldest recovered woven cloth is from Turkey and dates back to 7000 BCE but we all know people were weaving baskets long before that. The origins of crochet are a complete mystery and our earliest evidence of that craft is published patterns from the early 1800’s. What happened to all the old crochet I wonder?

With the exceptional and rare item that was made for some wealthy person, or some dead person (most of our recovered pieces are from grave goods), or for some wealthy dead person, most cloth was made out of necessity. People need shirts and trousers and socks and bags and hats and blankets. If you have to make all of it by hand, starting with spinning the yarn, this will take up all of your time. You’ll work at it non-stop and never really have enough.

That changed with the invention of the flying shuttle. With this, weavers could weave more and weave it faster. Their production increased so much that the handspinning industry couldn’t keep up with demand. So the Spinning jenny was invented and then a worker could fill eight bobbins at once. Next came the Spinning mule which had 48 spindles. Yarn became more plentiful and much cheaper.

The stocking frame, a mechanized knitting machine was invented in the 1500’s but was a commercial failure. The idea of automated knitting limped along, widely opposed by those who supplemented their family income with handknitting socks (which was almost everyone in Europe), until the the late 1700’s when progress could not be stopped and knitting, sock knitting anyway, became a commercial industry.

The Stocking Frame (from Charles Deering's History of Nottingham, 1750).

Crochet has never been automated, by the way. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

Do I have a point to all this? Yes, lol. I love knitting history and I could go on and on but I’ll instead I’ll wrap up the lesson with this: all that automation meant that people didn’t HAVE to knit and spin and weave full time. Now they could do it for fun.

Those wonderful and sometimes maddening patterns from the early 1800’s were written for the first people who took up yarn and thread and needles and hooks for the sheer enjoyment of it. Those are the people who started it as a craft. Those are my kind of people.

I like people who do. Just do. Instead of pinning and reposting and social media-ing about knitting and crocheting and spinning, there are the people who do it. I like those people. (And if they can do while social meda-ing, more power to them!)

That’s what the Revive-A-Vintage contest is about. Its a contest for those who do the craft. Yes, I could get many (MANY) more people in if I had made the rules something like :”write a comment on this post and tomorrow I’ll pick one and give out a prize” or “click like this post and you’re entered to win”.  But I’d rather have a smaller contest and give prizes to people who actually make stuff for the joy and pleasure of making it.

Those are the people I write for. Those are the people I design for. Those are my people. And if you’ve read all the way down to the end of this ramble-y post you are one of them.

Love you for that.

Some of my People (there stuff anyways!)

There is no way I could include a pic from everybody’s Vintage project to show off here.  The contest isn’t that small! So I grabbed a random assortment for a bit of eye candy. You can check out all the entries by clicking the image above.

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"There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

8 Comments on "Why We Craft – Because We Love It"

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This is fascinating. I will digging around on these links for days.


You are very welcome! I just barely scratched the surface in this post. Happy digging!


Thanks for including Athena (my loom) and I! My husband and I joined the SCA and I am looking at doing demos at Middle Schools teaching about Tablet Weaving! Also, I loved your comment on my webpage, I need to finish the upgrade on it so it’s more accessible!


I bet those middle schoolers would love a demo! That sounds like tons of fun.


I like people who do, too. 🙂


Those are the best people. After all they are far more interesting.


You know, I keep spending more time browsing other’s projects on Ravelry instead of working on my own. This is definitely because of a tactical effort used by everyone else to stop me from working, and not because I’m easily distracted.


Definitely. Its a conspiracy.