Dressing The Stans

Knitted mittens from Afghanistan, mid-20th century. Knitted mittens from Afghanistan, mid-20th century. TRC 2016.1754a-b.

10. Knitted textiles

During the 1960’s and 70’s, some young people in the West were known for wearing Afghan coats made from a fleece decorated with embroidery, together with knitted socks. Most of the socks were knitted in Afghanistan, in particular by the Hazaras, and were worn by men in the wintertime. The history of knitting in Central Asia and Afghanistan is still not clear, but there is a long tradition of knitting in neighbouring Iran. What is apparent is that the various techniques were quickly adopted and adapted to local tastes in patterns and colours.

Felted caps

In addition to the knitted socks mentioned above there are also a few examples of knitted and felted textiles in Central Asia. One such example is the knitted and felted cap worn by some Turkmen men in northern Iran and southern Turkmenistan. These are made from a brown woollen yarn that is loosely knitted (stocking stitch) into the desired shape and then felted with a comb. The felting provides extra warmth with little extra weight.

Western fashions have also had an influence on the range of knitted items worn in Central Asia. Jumpers, cardigans, waistcoats, shawls and so forth are locally knitted and used.

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