Remember the discussion about how, possibly, the spread of knitting was limited by the lack of steel knitting needles? Um. Yeah.
Today, Alwen (bless her) went a little crazy and sat down to figure out what it takes to knit at twenty stitches to the inch. (That's eighty stitches to ten centimeters, for youse guys living in Metric Land.) That is the gauge used to knit some of the earliest known knitting in Europe. What it takes, it turns out, is needles .85 mm in diameter. That's almost HALF the diameter of triple-zero knitting needles.
I can't possibly see how you could knit on anything that thin, other than steel. I'm not even sure aluminum would hold up; I'm betting not (and aluminum is a moot point when we're talking about 1275, because it's a modern metal. Titanium or platinum would work, haha, but they weren't available in 1275 either.)
Anyone with ANY thoughts on alternative materials for knitting needles that small, let me know. Please. I really, really really want to hear it. I'm going to be contacting my uncle the metallurgist about this, soon. He's not an archeo-metallurgist, but he IS married to a knitter, so I'm hoping what with one thing and another, he can answer my questions. I'm sure, at the least, he's got better metallurgy books in his office to look stuff up in, than I do. (In fact, now that I think of it, I'll ask if he's got books in layman's terms to suggest.)
I'm also speculating on the sudden appearance of larger gauge knitting on the scene in the 1400s-1500s. Maybe people got tired of waiting for steel needles and started knitting on wood. The Monmouth caps of England were knit at about two stitches per inch, a gauge very easily attained on needles made from nearly anything - wood, ivory, bone, shell, you name it. This was also the era when knitted clothing showed up, possibly done on knitting frames. It looks VERY likely that people found alternatives to expensive steel needles with typical ingenuity.
More food for thought. Feel free to aruge with me.