Hosiery, stockings and other textile fabrics made by knitting. Hand-knitting is said to have originated in Scotland in the 15th century. Mnchine knitting dates from 1589, when the knitting-frame or stocking-frame was invented by the Rov. Willinm Lee, a Cambridge graduate, born at Woodborough in Nottinghamshire. This innohino consists of 8 number of hooked needles which are fixed in lino and act together, yet in such a way that each controls the working of a singlo loop. Between enoh needle and that next it there is plnoed a thin plate of metal called a "sinker," which moves backwards and forwards, so as to force the thread of yarn - which is laid over the stems of the needles inside the hooks - into a series of loops. The needle then descends, and as it does so the hook comes into contact with a "pressor bar," which forces the point of the barb into a groove in the stem of the noodle, thus forming a closed eye, within which the loop is caught. As the noodle descends farther, this loop is pulled through that which was last formed. The needle then ascends again and the operation is repented, resulting in the addition of another loop to the knitted fabric. All subsequent inventions in the hosiery manufacture have started from the principle of Lee's machine. The most important improvements were those of Jedediah Strntt (1758), who introduced a series of ribbing needles, at right angles to the plain needles; of Sir Marc I. Brunei (1816), who invented the tricoteur, or circular stocking frame, for producing a tubular web, a machine which only became known in the improved form due to Peter Claussen (1845); and finally the tumbler needle of M. Townsend (1858). Since that date alterations for the better in the arrangement and construction of the knitting-frame have been made by William Cotton of Loughborough, and the Americans, W. C. Gist (1858) and Almet Reid (1877).
The chief centre of the hosiery trade in Great Britain is the town and county of Nottingham; it also extends to Leicestershire, Derbyshire, and other neighbouring counties. On the Continent Saxony takes the lead in this branch of industry. Machine-knitting is carried on very extensively in New York State and the New England states of North America. Cotton, wool, and silk are all employed in the hosiery manufacture. The articles produced comprise stockings, hats and bonnets, gloves, shawls, and every variety of underclothing. [The standard work on the knitting-frame is Felkin's Machine-wrought Hosiery and Lace (1867).]