Recently when I brought in some knit samples to our studio class, I was asked “why aren’t you knitting for your final project?” I have been thinking a lot about that as there is no real reason to adhere to woven or knit goods. Either one or both in combination may be relevant and there are many instances throughout fashion history where knitted fabric is used in a high fashion context. Both Gres and McCardell used knitted tubing. Custom knit lengths of silk and wool knitted goods were used in their work which at the time bore connotations of working class utilitarianism. I also think of Herve Leger and Rodriguez’s sexy almost architectural body conscious dresses.
I wonder in what context is knitting relevant to my design research and how might knitted components be integrated with woven ones? My knitting machines (an industrial Dubied from the 1930’s and a Santagostino from the 1950’s) are capable of creating a multiplicity of forms based upon changing basic settings. As a generative direction, I intend on developing narrow firm banding, very wide firm banding and simple tube shapes with integral finished edges. These forms may be used in conjunction with woven fabric based forms to further develop my designs. This draws upon Vionnet’s pattern experimentation methodology which was rooted in a Classical simplicity that “saw the body as a spatial form.” This also draws more abstractly upon the use of highly decorative lace banding within Edwardian boudoir garments.
My research has dealt in large part upon the use of defunct pattern technologies as a path to innovation. Many aspects of couture are difficult to replicate and this need for competence keeps its techniques out of mass market. Perhaps also keeping it from being passed on... Techniques of knitting on the hand flat knitting machine may also be seen as marginalized by skill competence issues. Going forward I hope to locate silk, cotton and lurex yarns.....
Anna is a Hamilton based knitwear and textile practitioner blogging about her collection development as well as pre-1950's knitwear technology.
amy lawrence designs