I'm worried that people think I'm weird when I go to Ren Faire. I'm not a guy, yet I spend quite a lot of time staring at the ladies. No, it's the oft-overflowing bosoms that catch my eye - it's the knitwear. Scarves, caps, shawls, snoods, fingerless gloves, you name it. I have the same issue every winter and fall in malls, stores, parking lots, etc. I'm sure people think I'm staring, when in reality I'm wondering: I wonder what stitch pattern that is? How is that sweater constructed? Do I have that same yarn at home? I bet I could make that at a fraction of the price she obviously paid at Gap. It's like a mental illness or something. As a matter of fact, it's quite common for me to completely lose my train of thought when a piece of knitwear crosses my line of vision.
For a bit of a history lesson: if you want to be technical about it, knitting and crochet were not practiced during Renaissance times - they developed much more recently. What was common then, especially among the people of Northern Europe, was the craft of sprang. And no, I can't figure out if it's supposed to be "spranging" when used in that sense. I don't think so. The spinning and dying of wool was done pre-1600, but the resultant yarn was used almost exclusively for weaving (at least as far as my google-fu is telling me). Which makes me sad because if I were to ever participate in a reenactment of some sorts (and don't think it hasn't crossed my mind recently) I wouldn't be able to knit. Although (thank you google!) I would be able to use my drop spindle, as it's one of the oldest spinning tools known to mankind*.
*That is, once I actually receive it in the mail. See earlier post about my broken Joanns.com order.
~~~ Edited to Add: Wow was I off! This page has some excellent early knitting information. Interesting stuff! I can't imagine knitting at that gauge...