At last I’ve tracked down some ancient knitting that seems to resemble Distitch. It’s not unexpected!
As I wrote (Distitch – a new knitting concept, p. 9):
It is difficult to invent something original: there really is nothing new under the sun! In fact, there are many “new” things that had already been discovered in the past…
I’ve been in touch with Cary Karp (Stockholm) a researcher who is familiar with the literature about the early history of looped fabric. I was excited to learn that several museum collections include fragments of what are often called “compound knitting”, originating mainly in Egypt and dating between 5th-11th century AD.
The fragments are often tubular stocking stitch, with no purls. They have colour stripes or very elaborate multi-coloured ornaments, using stranded technique and intarsia, sometimes together. We do not know if they were made with needles or looms, though the latter seems more likely. For more details see http://loopholes.blog/
Now even more questions are raised: who started to knit this way and when, what tools did they use, and why did they stop using compound knitting…?