This is from a website on Irish folklore:
DID YOU KNOW...
(Old wives tales can be true, and funny too!)
...There is a tradition that knitting that is done after dark is always best because the sheep are asleep.
...There are plenty of crickets about the hearth and the islanders never molest them, for if you injure a cricket they say his friends will eat your socks in revenge.
And this is from Wiccan writings:
Medieval Christmas folklore seems endless: that animals will all kneel down as the Holy Night arrives, that bees hum the '100th psalm' on Christmas Eve, that a windy Christmas will bring good luck, that a person born on Christmas Day can see the Little People, that a cricket on the hearth brings good luck, that if one opens all the doors of the house at midnight all the evil spirits will depart, that you will have one lucky month for each Christmas pudding you sample, that the tree must be taken down by Twelfth Night or bad luck is sure to follow, that 'if Christmas on a Sunday be, a windy winter we shall see', that 'hours of sun on Christmas Day, so many frosts in the month of May', that one can use the Twelve Days of Christmas to predict the weather for each of the twelve months of the coming year, and so on.
I know that doesn't answer the question of the idea originating with Charles Dickens, but like a really good Urban Legend, it sure has made its midieval rounds!