As an experienced hand knitter, I’ve built my design and machine knitting skills on a strong foundation of stitch and fibre knowledge. Sustainability is built into the core of all my projects, focussing on natural fibres, local manufacture and designing with durability in mind.
During my work placement I designed and wrote a small collection of hand knitting patterns, helped develop a British wool yarn and worked for a swatching company. In my final year at NTU I have explored how traditional hand knitting skills could influence a more sustainable approach to knitwear production, I’ve also developed ways to re-purpose existing knitwear using traditional hand techniques to create new garments from old.
My visual research is based on Whitby, drawing upon images from the present day and photographs by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, photographer from the late 1800’s who captured the day to day activities of the working men and women of the area. I will be looking at work wear from the Victorian era and key features of Whitby; Stone steps, cobbles, sunsets and erosion. Using traditional hand knitting and mending techniques, this project includes re-purposing, whole garment knitting and designing for longevity.
For hundreds of years hand knitters made working garments with limited financial resources, limited materials and fibres, yet they produced durable quality knitwear that could withstand a lifetime of wear. Today we understand our resources on Earth are limited and we need to consider garment longevity, mending and sustainable materials. This collection aims to take inspiration not from the working men who wore these garments but from the knitters themselves highlighting their skills and knowledge.
The mood and message of this project comes at a time when we ourselves are reflecting on how we can make the fashion industry more sustainable, and how we can bring manufacturing back to the UK on a smaller scale, using and showcasing how good British wool can be, making the most of what we have, buying good quality clothes that will last and we will mend when they get worn out. All these things are not new ideas, we need to look back upon how victorian knitters did this, in order to bring an updated version into 21st century. All this has been reflected upon within this project, I have used only British wool, I have repaired, re-used, existing garments in new and exciting ways, I have taken inspiration from traditional hand knitting techniques and applied them to modern day manufacturing - such as whole garment and zero waste.