KNITTING is the art of forming looped fabrics or tex-tures with the use of needles or wires and a single con-tinuous thread. Crochet is an analogous 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 fabric are retained on one or more needles while a new series is being formed from them on a separate needle. The origin and history of the art of knitting are referred to under the heading HOSIERY, vol. xii. p. 299. The wires, needles, or pins used are of different lengths and gauges, according to the work for which they are intended, and are made either of steel, ivory, bone, or wood. Some are headed, to prevent loops from slipping over their ends, but on these can be woven only fiat pieces of work; others are pointed at both euds, and with the use of three or more of these circular webs can be made. The materials used in knitting are specially twisted for the purpose, and consist of twines, threads, cotton, silk, wools, and worsteds, the latter being the most important and largely used substance. Ordinary stockings and socks, which are the staple hand-knit articles, are worked in " lambswool," " fingering," and " wheeling " worsteds respectively, these differing in size and fineness of quality; and for other articles of under-clothing and fancy knitting the worsteds most commonly used are "fleecy," "Berlin," and "Lady Betty" wool. Shetland wool is a thin hairy undyed and very tenacious and strong worsted, spun in the Shetland Islauds from the wool of the native sheep, and very extensively used in the knit-ting of fine shawls, veils, scarfs, and small articles by the islanders, among whom the industry is of much local con-sequence. " Crewels " are closely twisted coloured worsteds of the same size as Shetland wool, and capable consequently of being knit into the same fabric. Much spun silk is also knit into patterns and articles similar in form and appear-ance to Shetland wool goods. In Ayrshire the hand-knitting of Scotch caps is extensively prosecuted as a domestic industry, the knit work being collected and " waulked " or felted and otherwise finished in factories. The methods by which, with plain knitting, " purling," "slipping" loops, "taking up" and "casting off," &c, materials can ba shaped and worked into varied and varie-gated forms are endless, and patterns and directions for working are to be found in all magazines and papers devoted to ladies' work, as well as in numerous special cheap publications.
Standard works, from which many of the patterns and directions in smaller manuals are copied, are Mrs Gaugain's Knitting and Crochet Work, and Esther Copley's Comprehensive Knitting Book, London, 1849.