The process of ‘just knitting’ is so much more than a series of actions to produce something – a result.
The result may never actually be realised or known. We may have an idea and through the process of making, it just doesn’t turn out the way we thought or hoped. Or the resulting finished article may just be a by-product and the art is in the making and in the journey and finding out new techniques or things that we never thought of before or even knew existed. As in today, the knitted item I’m looking at was a by-product. I watched a lace curtain that I’d knitted waft in the breeze above a sleeping cat. I watched for some time. The movement is now the art not the knit.
It took a really long time to make the curtain which has holes, is then darned and is knitted lop sided because of ‘take-down’ from the machine (in other words, the brushes on the power knit machine pulling it). In the process of making, I understood how the lace patterns that I had seen in the Shetland museums are made. I translated those designs into a computer aided design package which were then sent to the power knit machine where the panel grew with holes and stretched edges and errors. But all I could see was a thing of beauty which is now hanging ill fitted across the window of my small flat.
Today, I watched the dappled light fall across the room, from the peeping sun forcing its light through the tree outside my window. The dancing shadows in between the light created a small dancing scene on the wooden floor. The shadow of the lace curtain left its trace.
Before I went to University to study FTK, I didn’t even know that the knitting industry cut knitted fabric to make jumpers. This I found quite shocking and have not knitted in a way that can be cut and produce waste. I never knew there was such waste in the fashion industry until I started this course. Cutting knitted fabrid has never been an option for me, so now I’m finding ways to sculpt and manipulate the knit to create garment shaping.
Over the summer, I practiced smocking knit to varying degrees of success (bearing in mind that I used to smock dresses perfectly for my daughter over 25 years ago) Smocking knit is another thing. It’s unruly and ununiformed.
Last week, I met Debbie at Uni whilst I was smocking the neck of a dress I was making. She was really helpful and said that the smocking must add to the knit because the lace was sophisticated – to think of the yarn and finish. I’ve always gone for a contrasting yarn but looked again at the thickness and shine or matt finish. At that point, I stopped the smocking. I’m looking at other ideas for fabric manipulation to shape it.
but in the meantime, here are the latest panels that I have shaped into dresses by smocking.
Something has happened to my knitting. I started by designing knitted lace inspired by Shetland lace but it has become something more. Learning traditional patterns has given my knitting integrity and credibility. Shetland lace is a story of landscape, tradition, journey and sociocultural meaning and I wanted to bring those values to a wider audience. I marry traditional lace patterns and highly technical poser knit designed in CAD to ‘just knit’ now. I’m using fine metallic yarn from Lanificio dell’Olivo and pure wool by Sato Seni who are both considering sponsoring me and I feel that I am just at the beginning.