Here is a simple posting of my new (to me) Santagostino. It is a sister machine to my 10 gauge machine which I acquired 4 months ago. I am still learning how to maximize all of the possibilities of these machines, and realized shortly after acquiring the 10 gauge that its strength lay in ultra fine yarns (such as cobweb weight 2/48nm silks and cashmeres). The 8 gauge seems much more appropriate for a sock weight yarn (or 2/18nm) and I imagine myself making practical but pretty cardigans on it. I find this machine utterly charming despite its still quite dirty state from sitting in a crate (travelling on ship from Scotland). Its dials and cams show wear and tear from a lifetime of use. I find imagining the old mills these machines came from quite inspiring.
About ten years ago I invested in a Husqvarna embroidery sewing machine with all sorts of computerized design software. I can't explain how frustrating the design interface was. It was a costly lesson in understanding the value of qualitative experience and certainly in realizing how analog equipment can trump emerging technology. As a textile person who has experimented with almost every conceivable process I find this interface of dials and switches suits how my brain works. I'm at about five machines now, all used and at least forty years old. In fact, my Dubied a machine from the 1930's is still my favourite.....I find it simply wonderful.
Here are some more machine knit punchcard patterns. These are from Revue De Tricotage. My particular magazines are from the early 1930's. I am really interested in the past popularity of machine knitting as a cottage industry. Sewing and knitting competence in the general population contributed to a vigorous market in patterns, and magazines ....but a move away from craft competence in the general public in recent decades has contributed to a marginalization of these skills. I am planning to set up a Wiki in support of these marginalized sewing and knitting patterns on my website. The beauty of these sophisticated patterns should not be lost.
Subtle masculine patterns.
Not long ago I began collecting antique knitting machine magazines for inspiration. They have proved to be a wonderful source of patterning and knit silhouettes. These designs come from "Lavori Di Maglieria," an Italian industrial knitting machine publication which seems to have been in print from the 1930's to the mid 1960's. However, there are also publications such as "Revue Du Tricot" and "Tricotuese."
Since all of the text is Italian, all I can tell you (with my limited understanding of the text) is that many of these patterns were punchcard patterns for Dubied Jacquard industrial machines ("Tipo Mut"). Punchcard Jacquard machines were the precursor to todays massive computerized machines. Punchcards could control both the shaping on a garment as well as graphic patterning depending on the machine.
Each pattern has a reference number with technical info for colour changes, and the development of texture through tuck and slip. Similar books can be found in domestic knitting machine publications however I feel really attracted to the Art Deco-esque patterns.
I left the surrounding text on the following images for interest. Aren't these textures beautiful?
These are distinctly Art Deco, I have a whole series of these which conjure early cinema, urban city scapes and Modernity.
More simple yet charming patterns...
This has been a great year for me in terms of aligning my creative work with making a living...and that sort of response has pay it forward type of results. I feel energized by the knit structures I am developing and so appreciative of support so I'd like to gift an individual with a pair of my short mittlets. Just comment on this post and I will randomly select someone on January 1st.
Other ways I feel this pay it forward idea has ramifications is through the energy I feel for developing and exploring new structures for future products (despite it being the Holidays:) I use scrap yarns in funky colours to develop these samples so please excuse the colour combinations. My vintage machines are capable of patterns by selecting and deselecting "cams" or channels in the carriage. They force the needles through a particular path and thats what creates uniques structures in addition to the fine gauge double bed capabilities. Converting domestic machine knitting ideas to industrial knitting is challenging because the terminology between hand knitting, domestic machine knitting and industrial knitting is not the same. Additionally my old machines are really limited in terms of what they will do, so playing on my machines becomes a negotiation between the specific strengths of my machines versus the effect I am going for:)
To develop my work, I tend to stalk esoteric classified or online auction sites for outdated knitting machine magazines and publications. Machine knitting was in many ways at its height in the 1950's so that is usually how far I go back for more sophisticated fashion forward knit ideas. People tend to assume we exist in a more advanced age but check out machine knitting from 1910, its very developed and accomplished.
Well I hope everyone is having having a lovely Holiday and hope 2013 is as good as 2012.....
A lozenge double bed rib structure with selective tuck.
Simple tuck and slip combinations which mimic the punch card capabilities of modern domestic Japanese machines.
A double bed racked wave pattern which combines a row of rib knit with circular knit.
City of Craft begins tomorrow! Check out the lookbook for the show via the link I provided. I have some photos of work I'll have at the show below:) If you can't attend because of work or you live far away don't worry, I've set up a "this weekend only" of free shipping on my webstore called "FREESHIPPING" ...any orders will be sent out by Friday the 14th. This coupon will be in effect for the duration of the show, so starting 11am on saturday to 5pm on sunday. If you can attend the show but can't bring cash, you can purchase online but pickup at the show.
Yes that's sparkle in the first picture! I have those in charcoal grey, light grey and black.
I have also posted a picture of my restored 10gg Santagostino, it knits a very fine gauge. It doesn't do patterns in the conventional sense (so you can't use punchcards), however you can select and hold particular needles based upon flicking certain switches on the carriage. Its a very old analog approach which requires concentration and interaction from the operator. Enjoy!
I came across this fantastic video of machine knitting on an industrial. The knitters name is Katherine Brown. I think she does a great job of showing off the machine and showing a bit of what these machines can do.
This season has been super busy with lots of knitting and making for the past few weeks. I noticed I have gone through a lot of yarn as evidenced by a pile of more than 60 empty cardboard cones in my studio. Aside from filling orders I have a craft show I am really looking forward to. The show is called City of Craft and its held over the weekend of 8th and 9th of December in Toronto. I know a lot of you have probably already heard about it, but I'll tell you about it anyway. Its full of fantastic vendors from both sides of the border and the ladies that curate the show seem to do it just right. There's a real warmth to the atmosphere and a great mix of affordable versus fantastic.
Another piece of news is I've found a solid supplier of yarns for my business. It took a while to work out the quirks of putting new yarn through my finicky industrial machines but with a bit of help (from my mum) we worked out that careful tensioning and gauge makes the diffrence. As a small company it can be really hard to find places that want to do business with you, so the search for the right supplier can take alot of time... but as the months go by I've found I'm not THAT small. It means next year I can offer alpaca and silk/ wool blends in addition to the merino and cashmere and it also means developing a small line of cardigans and sweaters. I'm pretty excited about that! As the months unfold and I develop a Lookbook, I will post here with latest news......
In my previous post I talked about how production is "not a random" act. The physical representation of an idea is subject to technical and knowledge frameworks as well as the mode of production. Well, here are some examples of production limitations!
I am trying to make my own version of Edwardian lace banding and fagotting through knitting. As you can see there are areas of success and areas where the machine was unhappy. I think this is a great example of the way production funnels your ideas based on the process. These bands are essentially 1X1 rib in very fine yarn guages. The fagotting effect was created by taking those needles out of working position to create floats. I'm really happy with the effect and feel a whole skirt in open banding would be really effective, or perhaps just as belting which is more subtle.
My main direction at this point is a mash-up of wovens and knits which references early 20th century dressmaking techniques. In writing about process and also experimenting on my industrial knitting machines, I have been forced to engage in a sort of dual with them. I coax them into behaving and they reward me with beautiful original work.
Bamboo and rayon bands in 2/48 and 2/60 nm. I am trying to make really narrow, really fine bands to run along seams and along the length of a persons body.
Silk and merino yarns in 2/70nm on the left which are slightly terrifying (in terms of fineness) to work with. There is an old world quality to these bands because of the intersection of quality yarn and classic knit structure that I absolutely love.
Lace veiling and silk banding with floats that imitate fagotting.....
Here are some simple examples of silk fabrics on the bias coupled with belting ideas. If you squint can you envision a dresses? I can:)....
Stuart Hall states messages have complex structures of dominance. In his article “Encoding, Decoding” his central argument is fixed around the medium of tv. He breaks down the various ways in which the process of producing “is not a random moment”.
This is different from semiotic meaning but the two can certainly be “read” or “received” as one in the same. Semiotic meaning tends to be encoded within layers of frameworks both technical and knowledge based. In the context of a tv show there is input, such as the content as deemed appropriate by those in charge and the way in which it is presented...which is influenced by semiotics and the framework of the tv show ...and then there is the output: the audience views the show through the tv, the tv distorts the filmed image and the audience digests the image on various levels.... The thing is I had never considered how a production process could drive or obfuscate the INTENDED meaning.
So the process itself encodes or perhaps formats messages. In the context of fashion design or the sewing industry it is interesting to consider how the process of producing garments encodes and shapes meaning. Sewing industries may be broken down generally into industrial garment making, home sewing and art/ craft sewing. Each avenue shapes and provides a framework of technique and knowledge. This means that the idea and content supported via alternate frameworks may have different outcomes.
Further where fashion is involved there may be multiple levels of industry. A slip from the 1920’s is made of components such as lace banding and manufactured cloth sewn together. The various processes which shape those components, the message intended by the designer and the production frameworks all influence the final result. If a designer has access to cloth that is only 60 inches wide, or can only find 3 inch lace banding where she needs something wider the levels of process, meaning and making are altered.
Stuart Hall goes on to describe dominant ideas embedded in culture as “hegemonic”, they seem natural and perhaps invisible. The fashion process of construction and assembly is a great example where dominant ideas about sewing technology shape the medium of clothing as if the process itself were taken for granted. Few question and seek out alternate production processes.
So what technical and knowledge frameworks are there? What alternate production processes exist? Well, many Modernist designers such as Vionnet and Schiaperelli eschewed dominant approaches and explored humor as content as well ideas about harmonious sewn structures. Balenciaga was another designer who applied knowledge frameworks borrowed from Japan to inform and shape his more western sewing process of producing. Desses, Armani, Gres, McCardell, etc. developed new content, developed alternate frameworks to develop fashion within technique and knowledge frameworks. Looking back we view and read the finished garments in the context of the fashion photo, the fashion runway or in the context of a museum exhibit, these final products of a cultural producers output through the production process obfuscate original meanings.
Gres’ production process included haute couture aspects such as hand stitching and custom fitting. Her design process was also informed by the 3-d modelling of cloth onto actual bodies rather than on mannequins or by using technical drawings. Designs made by Gres’ may not have been possible through alternate forms of production.
Current production processes which have the potential to alter outcomes might be laser cutting, digital fabric printing and knitting (as a way to control and form selvedge and edge structures).
So you see production is really not a “random moment”, it formats, limits and influences the idea.
This last three weeks has been a curious mix of theory at school contrasted by knitting colourplay and sewing at home. My mittlets continue to be a success and I feel fairly confident in mentioning my intention to expand upon the concept embedded in the mittlet (the handmade object resurrecting older techniques) by offering a women's knitwear line next year. In addition I have found the most beautiful Peruvian yarns to supply my production work so I can provide more consistent colours.
I recently completed some orders for Bookhou, Bespoke Truckee and Tulani Rose. I am currently working on a second batch for Bespoke Truckee as well as for Workshop and Flock boutiques. It's interesting how all of these stores are owned by women entrepreneurs. They are all such nice people...who curate, make and sell through their amazing boutiques.
Hope you have been having a great weekend!
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