Knitting

Detail of a knitted cap, 19th century, Taranto. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago USA
Detail of a knitted cap, 19th century, Taranto. Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago USA
The oldest surviving object from sea-silk, a cap from the 14th century, is knitted. Knitted is also the largest and heaviest object, a scarf which weighs about 400 grams. The most common inventoried items are knitted gloves.

In Taranto, around 1800, we find only knitted sea-silk objects. «Le donne lavorano a maglia calze, berette, guanti ed altre manifatture ricercatissime in oltremonti.» (De Simone 1867) All objects that Archbishop Capecelatro of Taranto ordered between 1780-1789 and 1802-1805 were women's and men's gloves in dozens, socks, vests, caps; all are knitted, sometimes mixed with a silk thread, giving them more strength: «Many mix it with silk, by which the work gets more firmness, but loses that softness and warmth which it hath naturally.» (von Riedesel 1773) This is a striking statement when we consider the results of the strength analysis of the byssus fibre. Possibly this was also the result of an economical use of the precious sea-silk? In any case, there are very few mixed fabrics - almost all inventoried items are knitted in pure sea-silk.
Capecelatro also mentions this fact: «Oft fügt man auch zu einem Faden dieser Wolle einen Faden Seide von beliebiger Farbe, und verbindet sie zusammen.» (von der Recke 1815) Von Salis-Marschlins (1793) says the same: «Alsdann wird sie mit der Spindel in der Hand gesponnen, zwey oder drey Fäden zusammen verbunden, immer ein Faden rechte Seide darunter gemischt, und alsdann mit den Nadeln nicht nur Handschuhe, Strümpfe und Westen, sondern ganze Kleider gestrickt». Although von Salis-Marschlins is a credible, reality-based rapporteur, I query that there ever have been made knitted gowns, considering the amount of raw material that would have been necessary.