top of page

The History of Fibre Arts

Fibre arts have a long and rich history, dating back thousands of years to ancient civilisations where textiles were created for practical and decorative purposes.

Fibre arts continue to be a popular pastime and form of self-expression, with practices such as knitting, crochet, macrame, spinning, and felting being enjoyed by people all over the world.


Knitting is one of the oldest forms of fibre arts and is thought to have originated in the Middle East. It was later adopted by European cultures, where it became a staple of household production for clothing and other household textiles.

Knitting is the process of creating a fabric using two or more needles to pull and loop yarn into a range of interconnected loops. As knitting doesn't require any large tools or equipment like weaving, it was a valuable skill for nomadic communities to have.

The word for knitting is thought to derive from Old English cnyttan "to tie with a knot, bind together, fasten by tying or from the similar Dutch Verb Knutten, also 'to knot'

Today, knitting continues to be a popular craft, with people using it to create a wide range of items, from warm winter garments to delicate lace shawls.


Crochet is another fibre art that has a long history dating back to the 19th century. It is believed to have originated in South America and Africa and was later introduced to Europe by Spanish and Portuguese sailors.

Similarly to knitting, crochet creates interlocked loops of yarn but uses a single hook rather than 2 needles. Originally these hooks were made from materials steel, ivory or box wood. The name crochet comes from the French word Crochet, meaning hook.

Like knitting, crochet was used to create household textiles, but it also became popular for making decorative items such as lace doilies (ornamental mats) and table runners.

Today, crochet is still used to create a variety of items, including clothing, accessories, and home décor.


Macrame, a form of knotting, has its roots in the 13th century when it was used to create ornamental finishes in the Middle East by Arabic Weavers., who would tie the ends of their woven towels, shawls and veils to create a decorative fringe. It became popular in Europe and America in the 19th and 20th centuries and was used to create a wide range of items, including wall hangings, plant hangers, and jewellery.

Macrame also has a history with sailors who would make items to sell on shore. They called it 'square knotting' This helped to introduce the art from to other parts of the world.

Macrame is experiencing a resurgence in popularity and is being used to create unique and intricate designs across homewares, fashion and accessories


Spinning, the process of creating yarn from raw fibres, is one of the oldest fibre arts and has been practiced for thousands of years. In the past, spinning was an essential household task, with yarn being created from the raw fibres of sheep, alpaca, and other animals. This yarn was then used to create all the household items and clothing.

In many countries spinning was originally done using a drop spindle, the spinning wheel is believed to be invented in India between 500 and 1000AD

Today there are many types of spinning wheels to suit all types of spinners. The art of Hand spinning is often done for pleasure, with people using a variety of materials, including wool, silk, and even recycled materials, to create unique and hand-spun yarns to use in their knitting, crochet and weaving projects.


Felting, the process of matting fibres together to create a dense, non-woven fabric, is another ancient fibre art that is believed to be the most ancient of all. Dating back to Neolithic period there have been signs of this ancient textile in the bronze and iron ages.

Felting of wool and other fibres happens with moisture, heat and friction. Many believe that felting originated through Nomadic men packing their sandals with wool to prevent blisters. The result of sweat and agitation is what created the first samples of felt.

In the past, felting was used to create a range of items, including hats, slippers, and even shelters and was a way of keeping people warm and dry.

Both Wet and dry needle Felting are popular crafts nowadays, with people using them to create a wide range of items, including clothing, accessories, and home décor such as prints and vases.

Where to buy fibre art supplies?

Vada Blue offers supplies for all of these fibre arts, making it a one-stop shop for those looking to explore and enjoy the world of fibre arts. From high-quality yarns and fibres to patterns and tools, Vada Blue has everything you need to get started on your fibre art journey.

Whether you are a seasoned fibre artist or just starting out, Vada Blue has the resources and expertise to help you take your skills to the next level.

As you can see, fibre arts have a rich history that spans thousands of years, and today they continue to be a popular pastime for people all over the world.

From the practical creation of household textiles to the decorative and expressive forms of art, fibre arts offer a wide range of possibilities for those looking to use their hands and explore their creativity.

And with the resources and support offered by Vada Blue, anyone can embark on a fibre art journey and discover the joys of creating with their own two hands.

See below for links to some of our fibre art supplies.

Knitting and Crochet - From Wool and silk, to vegan and recycled yarns.

Felting and Spinning - A wide range of Merino wool, silks, embellishments and premium fibres

Macrame - String, Ropes and braided cords are all suitable for Macrame

32 views0 comments
bottom of page