The children’s novel I’m working on right now is called The Knighting of Sir Kaye. Kaye lives in the mid to late middle ages in a fictional country called Knox and he is only 12 years old when he is knighted…much to everyone’s surprise. But Kaye has other surprises as well. He happens to be a very talented and speedy knitter.
Why and how? Interesting question, which required me to do a little research into the history of knitting. First of all (and possibly conveniently for me, because I can make up the details to fit my story) the history of knitting is somewhat shrouded in mystery. Examples of early forms of knitting have been found in Egypt, and it was most likely developed in the Middle East and later spread to Europe. There are examples of knit items found in Europe dating back to at least 1275.
During the 13th and 14th centuries, knitting became more and more important because knit items were stretchy and could shape themselves to a person’s body. This allowed for greater freedom of movement as well as nicer-looking stockings that didn’t bag around the knees. Keep in mind that the fashions of the time required people to wear hose a lot…especially men. Women could still get away with wearing long skirts, so maybe they didn’t need nicely knitted hose, but men often had shorter tunics which they wore with knitted hose. So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that knitting was actually considered a man’s job for many years. Eventually there were even knitting guilds, which were of course run by men.
Initially, knitted goods were considered luxury items, and they could be extremely expensive, but as time went on, the knowledge of knitting spread and by the time Elizabeth I was Queen of England, there were even knitting schools established to teach poor families a way to make a little extra money. (All right, I confess I learned that last fact from Wikipedia and there was no citation, so I hope it’s accurate. As I research this a little further, if I find out it’s not true, I’ll let you know.)
Stay tuned for a little more information on knitting in general and on Sir Kaye, the knitting knight, who prefers that no one knows about his secret talent. After all, who ever heard of a knight who knits?
Did you find this short recap of the history of knitting fascinating? Check out this other article I found online in Knitty magazine and see if you like it too.