Meriyasu: the rise of machine-knitted fabric
Knitting was first introduced to Japan during the Nanban trade period (1543–1614 CE) when trade relations with Europe were established in earnest. The Japanese term for knitted fabric, meriyasu, is derived from the Portuguese word ‘meias’, meaning ‘socks’. Meriyasu specifically refers to fabric made using a plain stitch which can stretch in both horizontal and vertical directions. The first knitted items that entered Japan were primarily socks, gloves and undergarments; however, as the use and range of knitted fabric expanded to outerwear and non-clothing items, the term meriyasu became outdated and from mid-1950s the English word ‘knit’ came into the common vernacular.