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edited by Sandy Black

Hos ediscit et hos arto stipata theatro spectat Roma potens; habet hos numeratque poetas ad nostrum tempus Livi scriptoris ab aevo.

Si meliora dies, ut vina, poemata reddit, scire velim, chartis pretium quotus arroget annus. scriptor abhinc annos centum qui decidit, inter perfectos veteresque referri debet an inter vilis atque novos? Excludat iurgia finis, “Est vetus atque probus, centum qui perficit annos.” Quid, qui deperiit minor uno mense vel anno, inter quos referendus erit? Veteresne poetas, an quos et praesens et postera respuat aetas? “Iste quidem veteres inter ponetur honeste, qui vel mense brevi vel toto est iunior anno.” Utor permisso, caudaeque pilos ut equinae paulatim vello unum, demo etiam unum, dum cadat elusus ratione ruentis acervi, qui redit in fastos et virtutem aestimat annis miraturque nihil nisi quod Libitina sacravit. Ennius et sapines et fortis et alter Homerus, ut critici dicunt, leviter curare videtur, quo promissa cadant et somnia Pythagorea. Naevius in manibus non est et mentibus haeret paene recens? Adeo sanctum est vetus omne poema. ambigitur quotiens, uter utro sit prior, aufert Pacuvius docti famam senis Accius alti, dicitur Afrani toga convenisse Menandro, Plautus ad exemplar Siculi properare Epicharmi, vincere Caecilius gravitate, Terentius arte.

Interdum volgus rectum videt, est ubi peccat. Si veteres

Knitting:Fashion, Industry, Craft

ita miratur laudatque poetas, ut nihil anteferat, nihil illis comparet, errat. Si quaedam nimis antique, si peraque dure dicere credit eos, ignave multa fatetur, et sapit et mecum facit et Iova iudicat aequo. Non equidem insector delendave carmina Livi esse reor, memini quae plagosum mihi parvo Orbilium dictare; sed emendata videri pulchraque et exactis minimum distantia miror. Inter quae verbum emicuit si forte decorum, et si versus paulo concinnior unus et alter, iniuste totum ducit venditque poema.

Knitting:

Printed in China

Fashion, Industry, Craft UK £35.00 USA $60.00 CAN $78.00

edited by Sandy Black


New Knitting sample:New Knitting sample

12/1/11

17:53

Page 2

Knitting: Fashion, Industry, Craft

V& A P U B L I S H I N G


New Knitting sample:New Knitting sample

12/1/11

17:53

Page 2

Knitting: Fashion, Industry, Craft

V& A P U B L I S H I N G


New Knitting sample:New Knitting sample

12/1/11

17:53

Page 4

1

History, tradition and mythology from 2nd Century to end 19th Century The early history of knitting reveals the mutual interplay between technical possibilities and demand, between technology and fashion.1 Irena Turnau

K

nitting is an ancient craft, but one whose origins are still unclear and whose early history may never be definitively proven. Fragments of early constructed woollen fabric have been found, dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries ad, which bear a resemblance to knitting but which have been shown to have been produced by related techniques such as sprang, braiding, tablet weaving or nalbinding (looping using a single threaded needle, also known as knotless netting). This chapter traces the evolution of knitting using examples from the museum’s earliest pieces dating from 2nd–5th centuries, through to the end of the 19th century. The etymology of the words used for knitting are often confusing - no word specifically for knitting existed in Greek or Latin and several languages borrowed words from the more ancient crafts of weaving and netting, until the Renaissance period. For example, contemporary words used for knitting such as la maille in French, and punto in Spanish are derived from the words for mesh or stitch. There may be linguistic and superficial similarities with knotting and netting, but one notable characteristic of weft knitted fabric (as typically made by hand and many machines) is that it can be easily unravelled from a final single loop (as can crochet).There is evidence from archaeological finds in burial grounds, particularly from Egypt and parts of Europe and Scandinavia, that knitting may have originated in several parts of the world independ-

ently, where extant examples date from the 7th century, not all of which have been studied in detail to conclusively determine the technique used2. More recent knitted artefacts from Europe, the British Isles, Scandinavia, and South America demonstrate a range of techniques and practices which have spread and developed into distinctive regional characteristics, for example richly patterned Spanish and Italian silk fabrics, Fair Isle knitting from the Shetland Islands, Swedish two-strand knitting and stylised animal motifs from South America. Knitting definitions, techniques and traditions Knitting is commonly understood to be the creation of a fabric from a single thread, formed into horizontal rows of individual loops which intermesh with each successive row of loops. These loops are held in a number of ways, from simple rods (called ‘pins’,‘wires’ and later ‘needles’) in hand knitting, to pegs or hooked metal needles constrained within a frame, in machine knitting. In contrast, woven construction utilises two sets of threads, warp and weft, which interlace each other in horizontal and vertical directions. During the industrial revolution, a new type of machine knitted fabric construction was invented which combined elements of both knitting and weaving, known as warp knitting. This complex technique utilises many warp threads, held on a warp beam similar to weaving looms, each thread feeding into hooked (bearded) needles held in a nee-

knitting

5


New Knitting sample:New Knitting sample

12/1/11

17:53

Page 4

1

History, tradition and mythology from 2nd Century to end 19th Century The early history of knitting reveals the mutual interplay between technical possibilities and demand, between technology and fashion.1 Irena Turnau

K

nitting is an ancient craft, but one whose origins are still unclear and whose early history may never be definitively proven. Fragments of early constructed woollen fabric have been found, dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries ad, which bear a resemblance to knitting but which have been shown to have been produced by related techniques such as sprang, braiding, tablet weaving or nalbinding (looping using a single threaded needle, also known as knotless netting). This chapter traces the evolution of knitting using examples from the museum’s earliest pieces dating from 2nd–5th centuries, through to the end of the 19th century. The etymology of the words used for knitting are often confusing - no word specifically for knitting existed in Greek or Latin and several languages borrowed words from the more ancient crafts of weaving and netting, until the Renaissance period. For example, contemporary words used for knitting such as la maille in French, and punto in Spanish are derived from the words for mesh or stitch. There may be linguistic and superficial similarities with knotting and netting, but one notable characteristic of weft knitted fabric (as typically made by hand and many machines) is that it can be easily unravelled from a final single loop (as can crochet).There is evidence from archaeological finds in burial grounds, particularly from Egypt and parts of Europe and Scandinavia, that knitting may have originated in several parts of the world independ-

ently, where extant examples date from the 7th century, not all of which have been studied in detail to conclusively determine the technique used2. More recent knitted artefacts from Europe, the British Isles, Scandinavia, and South America demonstrate a range of techniques and practices which have spread and developed into distinctive regional characteristics, for example richly patterned Spanish and Italian silk fabrics, Fair Isle knitting from the Shetland Islands, Swedish two-strand knitting and stylised animal motifs from South America. Knitting definitions, techniques and traditions Knitting is commonly understood to be the creation of a fabric from a single thread, formed into horizontal rows of individual loops which intermesh with each successive row of loops. These loops are held in a number of ways, from simple rods (called ‘pins’,‘wires’ and later ‘needles’) in hand knitting, to pegs or hooked metal needles constrained within a frame, in machine knitting. In contrast, woven construction utilises two sets of threads, warp and weft, which interlace each other in horizontal and vertical directions. During the industrial revolution, a new type of machine knitted fabric construction was invented which combined elements of both knitting and weaving, known as warp knitting. This complex technique utilises many warp threads, held on a warp beam similar to weaving looms, each thread feeding into hooked (bearded) needles held in a nee-

knitting

5


New Knitting sample:New Knitting sample

12/1/11

dle bar to form chains of loops in a vertical direction, which each intermesh with adjacent threads. Unlike weft knitting, warp knitting does not have an exact equivalent in hand craft work, although it is used to replicate netting, lace and crochet style fabrics industrially. Unlike weft knitting, warp knitted fabric is not easily unravelled and is usually cut and sewn. The knitting technology time line (pxx) shows the key developments in the mechanisation and industrialisation of knitting through several centuries, and the glossary gives further detail on definitions. a[D1,2,3 diagrams weft and warp knitting, (weaving structure)] Knitted items were originally made using a range of simple hand tools that gradually refined from hand carved sticks of wood, bone, quill or ivory, which in some parts of Europe had hooked ends, to metal wires and the finest steel knitting needles that became commonplace in the 19th century. It can be speculated that primitive looped fabric was made on the fingers of the hands, since it certainly was later made on both circular and straight peg frames.3 Both flat and circular peg frames and circular and flat knitting on needles can be seen in the timeline. In medieval times, plain knitting was commonly produced ‘in the round’ using a set of 4 or 5 needles to create a continuous seamless spiral formation, which could be shaped three dimensionally, particularly when knitting caps, stockings, gloves and later body garments. Alternatively, hand knitting could be made flat by working in rows with two knitting needles, turning the work from front to back each row, using the purl loop as reverse of the plain knitted loop. Both techniques developed according to regional practice and the functional requirements of the knitting itself, but the flat knitting technique gradually became dominant in hand knitting. Some garments such as the waistcoats, jackets and ganseys described later utilised both tubular and flat knitting techniques. However, a correlation can be seen between the gradual rise of literacy and the move away from circular knitting to flat knitting by hand

6

knitting

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Page 6

1 Coptic socks The first is a pair of ankle length socks in red wool [2085-1900] in good condition with only one hole in the sole.[Fig ] The other three are single socks of similar design: one is now faded brown in colour, and mended with several patches on the heel, sole and top of foot [1243-1904 Fig ]; the other is made in heavier wool, now patchily faded to purple with red areas visible inside and out. [Fig caption:This was found at Behneseh (Oxyrrhynchus) in the excavation of 1896/7]. Interestingly this sock has different design features: a ribbed top at the ankle about an inch (2.4cm) in depth, and a tongue with laced gusset at the front [1936-1897]

1 Coptic socks The first is a pair of ankle length socks in red wool [2085-1900] in good condition with only one hole in the sole.[Fig ] The other three are single socks of similar design: one is now faded brown in colour, and mended with several patches on the heel, sole and top of foot [1243-1904 Fig ]; the other is made in heavier wool, now patchily faded to purple with red areas visible inside and out. [Fig caption:This was found at Behneseh (Oxyrrhynchus)

knitters, as patterns were no longer just handed down orally, but spread by the use of printed instructions and (2 dimensional) charts for more decorative work. The circular method may have declined as it was less suited to such representations, dependent instead on tacit skills and knowledge and the inventions of each knitter. Importantly, the parallel transition from hand to machine production methods from the late 16th century pre-dated the industrial revolution by more than 150 years, and knitting remains today both an industrial and a domestic activity, each completely separate spheres.

Nevertheless, all forms of knitting have much in common including origins, techniques and fabric structures. The two extremes of industrial and domestic will be interlinked throughout this text. [Fig hands knitting etc – Dilmont[SB] or Mrs Warren Treasures in Needlework 1855 p60 NAL 43.N.44 ] Although a wide range of patterns and techniques for hand knitting exist throughout the world, the fundamental loop construction of all weft knitted fabrics is the same: the ‘knit’ and ‘purl’ loop formations, purl being the reverse of knit. There are subtle differences in technique between eastern and

knitting

7


New Knitting sample:New Knitting sample

12/1/11

dle bar to form chains of loops in a vertical direction, which each intermesh with adjacent threads. Unlike weft knitting, warp knitting does not have an exact equivalent in hand craft work, although it is used to replicate netting, lace and crochet style fabrics industrially. Unlike weft knitting, warp knitted fabric is not easily unravelled and is usually cut and sewn. The knitting technology time line (pxx) shows the key developments in the mechanisation and industrialisation of knitting through several centuries, and the glossary gives further detail on definitions. a[D1,2,3 diagrams weft and warp knitting, (weaving structure)] Knitted items were originally made using a range of simple hand tools that gradually refined from hand carved sticks of wood, bone, quill or ivory, which in some parts of Europe had hooked ends, to metal wires and the finest steel knitting needles that became commonplace in the 19th century. It can be speculated that primitive looped fabric was made on the fingers of the hands, since it certainly was later made on both circular and straight peg frames.3 Both flat and circular peg frames and circular and flat knitting on needles can be seen in the timeline. In medieval times, plain knitting was commonly produced ‘in the round’ using a set of 4 or 5 needles to create a continuous seamless spiral formation, which could be shaped three dimensionally, particularly when knitting caps, stockings, gloves and later body garments. Alternatively, hand knitting could be made flat by working in rows with two knitting needles, turning the work from front to back each row, using the purl loop as reverse of the plain knitted loop. Both techniques developed according to regional practice and the functional requirements of the knitting itself, but the flat knitting technique gradually became dominant in hand knitting. Some garments such as the waistcoats, jackets and ganseys described later utilised both tubular and flat knitting techniques. However, a correlation can be seen between the gradual rise of literacy and the move away from circular knitting to flat knitting by hand

6

knitting

17:53

Page 6

1 Coptic socks The first is a pair of ankle length socks in red wool [2085-1900] in good condition with only one hole in the sole.[Fig ] The other three are single socks of similar design: one is now faded brown in colour, and mended with several patches on the heel, sole and top of foot [1243-1904 Fig ]; the other is made in heavier wool, now patchily faded to purple with red areas visible inside and out. [Fig caption:This was found at Behneseh (Oxyrrhynchus) in the excavation of 1896/7]. Interestingly this sock has different design features: a ribbed top at the ankle about an inch (2.4cm) in depth, and a tongue with laced gusset at the front [1936-1897]

1 Coptic socks The first is a pair of ankle length socks in red wool [2085-1900] in good condition with only one hole in the sole.[Fig ] The other three are single socks of similar design: one is now faded brown in colour, and mended with several patches on the heel, sole and top of foot [1243-1904 Fig ]; the other is made in heavier wool, now patchily faded to purple with red areas visible inside and out. [Fig caption:This was found at Behneseh (Oxyrrhynchus)

knitters, as patterns were no longer just handed down orally, but spread by the use of printed instructions and (2 dimensional) charts for more decorative work. The circular method may have declined as it was less suited to such representations, dependent instead on tacit skills and knowledge and the inventions of each knitter. Importantly, the parallel transition from hand to machine production methods from the late 16th century pre-dated the industrial revolution by more than 150 years, and knitting remains today both an industrial and a domestic activity, each completely separate spheres.

Nevertheless, all forms of knitting have much in common including origins, techniques and fabric structures. The two extremes of industrial and domestic will be interlinked throughout this text. [Fig hands knitting etc – Dilmont[SB] or Mrs Warren Treasures in Needlework 1855 p60 NAL 43.N.44 ] Although a wide range of patterns and techniques for hand knitting exist throughout the world, the fundamental loop construction of all weft knitted fabrics is the same: the ‘knit’ and ‘purl’ loop formations, purl being the reverse of knit. There are subtle differences in technique between eastern and

knitting

7


New Knitting sample:New Knitting sample

12/1/11

17:53

Page 14

4

Classics to couture fashion knitwear from 1900 to now I’m sitting on a fence, sowing a sock for my husband.1 Ivor Cutler

T

1 Coptic socks The first is a pair of ankle length socks in red wool [2085-1900] in good condition with only one hole in the sole.[Fig ] The other three are single socks of similar design: one is now faded brown in colour, and mended with several patches on the heel, sole and top of foot [1243-1904 Fig ]; the other is made in heavier wool, now patchily faded to purple with red areas visible inside and out. [Fig caption:This was found at Behneseh (Oxyrrhynchus) in the excavation of 1896/7]. Interestingly this sock has different design features: a ribbed top at the ankle about an inch (2.4cm) in depth, and a tongue with laced gusset at the front [1936-1897]

his chapter traces the evolution of knitwear from everyday classics to high fashion, based on the wide range of iconic 20th century pieces in the V&A collection: classic Pringle cashmere sweaters, pioneering fashions from Schiaparelli, Missoni multicolour creations, Bill Gibb’s knitwear, Jean Muir’s fluid evening wear, Vivienne Westwood’s punk and Comme des Garçons’ deconstruction, plus the quintessentially British designer knitwear fashions which blossomed in the 1970s and 1980s, exemplified by Patricia Roberts, Artwork and many others. The sweater is a key item in knitwear, that transformed from underwear to outerwear, from menswear to womenswear, occasionally becoming glamorous, and has now become part of the everyday staple wardrobe, alongside ultrafine hosiery, basic underwear, and the ubiquitous T-shirt made from fine knitted jersey. Knitted fabric continues to be a mainstay of contemporary sportswear and casual style, with many unnoticed technical features and functions creating new standards of design and technology. In the decades spanning the turn of the millennium, eclecticism in contemporary design often combines craft skills with advanced technology. Modern machinery can knit the most complex structures to achieve any type of knitted fabric, with new developments in seamless industrial technology taking knitwear construction forward in the 21st century. During the 1990s the craft of hand knitting was revitalised by high fashion designers such as

Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yohji Yamamoto and Julien MacDonald to once again create couture knitwear by elaborate hand work. Other designers use both old and new technology side by side, notably influential Japanese designers Issey Miyake (in collaboration with textile engineer Dai Fujiwara) and Yoshiki Hishinuma, who have embraced knitting technology to experiment with new forms for knitwear, utilising three dimensional techniques. Key knitwear pieces represent a century’s evolution throughout this chapter, culminating in a new generation of designers developing a new aesthetic for knitwear. Through analysis of the knitwear itself, and comparison with earlier historical items, connections are revealed via technique, design and fashion. Technical fabric innovations can often inspire fashion. For example, the development of synthetic fibres and easy-care fabrics was exploited in double jersey jacquard construction during the 1970s; Dupont’s elastane fibre Lycra® inspired stretch knitwear and bodywear; state-of-the-art performance sportswear worn by Olympic athletes is the result of in depth research on fibres and fabric structures. The evolution of the sweater The history of 20th century knitwear is encapsulated in the evolution of the sweater into a universal upper body garment. Now a staple of everyday clothing, and variously called a jersey, pullover, or sweater, it is functional, versatile, comfortable and sometimes

knitting

15


New Knitting sample:New Knitting sample

12/1/11

17:53

Page 14

4

Classics to couture fashion knitwear from 1900 to now I’m sitting on a fence, sowing a sock for my husband.1 Ivor Cutler

T

1 Coptic socks The first is a pair of ankle length socks in red wool [2085-1900] in good condition with only one hole in the sole.[Fig ] The other three are single socks of similar design: one is now faded brown in colour, and mended with several patches on the heel, sole and top of foot [1243-1904 Fig ]; the other is made in heavier wool, now patchily faded to purple with red areas visible inside and out. [Fig caption:This was found at Behneseh (Oxyrrhynchus) in the excavation of 1896/7]. Interestingly this sock has different design features: a ribbed top at the ankle about an inch (2.4cm) in depth, and a tongue with laced gusset at the front [1936-1897]

his chapter traces the evolution of knitwear from everyday classics to high fashion, based on the wide range of iconic 20th century pieces in the V&A collection: classic Pringle cashmere sweaters, pioneering fashions from Schiaparelli, Missoni multicolour creations, Bill Gibb’s knitwear, Jean Muir’s fluid evening wear, Vivienne Westwood’s punk and Comme des Garçons’ deconstruction, plus the quintessentially British designer knitwear fashions which blossomed in the 1970s and 1980s, exemplified by Patricia Roberts, Artwork and many others. The sweater is a key item in knitwear, that transformed from underwear to outerwear, from menswear to womenswear, occasionally becoming glamorous, and has now become part of the everyday staple wardrobe, alongside ultrafine hosiery, basic underwear, and the ubiquitous T-shirt made from fine knitted jersey. Knitted fabric continues to be a mainstay of contemporary sportswear and casual style, with many unnoticed technical features and functions creating new standards of design and technology. In the decades spanning the turn of the millennium, eclecticism in contemporary design often combines craft skills with advanced technology. Modern machinery can knit the most complex structures to achieve any type of knitted fabric, with new developments in seamless industrial technology taking knitwear construction forward in the 21st century. During the 1990s the craft of hand knitting was revitalised by high fashion designers such as

Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yohji Yamamoto and Julien MacDonald to once again create couture knitwear by elaborate hand work. Other designers use both old and new technology side by side, notably influential Japanese designers Issey Miyake (in collaboration with textile engineer Dai Fujiwara) and Yoshiki Hishinuma, who have embraced knitting technology to experiment with new forms for knitwear, utilising three dimensional techniques. Key knitwear pieces represent a century’s evolution throughout this chapter, culminating in a new generation of designers developing a new aesthetic for knitwear. Through analysis of the knitwear itself, and comparison with earlier historical items, connections are revealed via technique, design and fashion. Technical fabric innovations can often inspire fashion. For example, the development of synthetic fibres and easy-care fabrics was exploited in double jersey jacquard construction during the 1970s; Dupont’s elastane fibre Lycra® inspired stretch knitwear and bodywear; state-of-the-art performance sportswear worn by Olympic athletes is the result of in depth research on fibres and fabric structures. The evolution of the sweater The history of 20th century knitwear is encapsulated in the evolution of the sweater into a universal upper body garment. Now a staple of everyday clothing, and variously called a jersey, pullover, or sweater, it is functional, versatile, comfortable and sometimes

knitting

15


New Knitting sample:New Knitting sample

12/1/11

sailors’ uniform, and continues as standard issue for navy and army personnel today. The fisher gansey was exclusively working men’s attire until the late 19th century, but as outdoor and leisure pursuits grew in popularity, the close fitting jersey worn by men was audaciously adopted by women. The flexibility and comfort of knitted fabric enhanced the predominant fashion for the hourglass form, although it must be remembered that to achieve this silhouette, the Victorian and Edwardian woman would still have worn a corset beneath the jersey. The growing emancipation of women resulted in their increased participation in sports such as golf, tennis and most radically, cycling. In the 1880s, a contemporary author, Kate Geilgud wrote about changes in their usual tennis dress of serge skirts and blouses with starched linen collars, stating that friends ‘introduced us to stockinette jerseys, woollen and light, which left our necks free, though we were not allowed to roll up our sleeves’’9. Growing concerns for health and hygiene in the Victorian period led to the concept of ‘rational dress’, not concerned with unnecessary changes of fashion, indeed against its very notion. The movement, led by feminist intellectuals, advocated a type of trousers for women the infamous ‘bloomers’ named after American dress reform campaigner Amelia Bloomer. These bifurcated bloomers, together with the fitted jersey, formed an outfit which gave unprecedented freedom of movement, in addition to drawing attention to the previously disguised, hidden or even denied, sexual parts of women’s anatomy. In 1891, Louisa Starr, a former Royal Academy student, wrote in support of rational dress in Strand magazine: Our garments should be garments with a meaning and a purpose. We should never contradict nature’s simple lines by false protuberances or exaggerations. To be beautiful, clothes should by their shape express the figure underneath; any cutting about of material to contradict the natural lines of the shape must be wrong.10

18

knitting

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‘Rationals’ as the knickerbockers for women came to be known, gradually became more acceptable and mainstream – a knitting pattern was produced so women could make their own . [image of knitting pattern for bloomers –KRL]. The dress reform and aesthetic dress movements, with their emphasis on plain, simply cut clothing, ease of movement and functionality, gradually found popular and practical appeal, becoming fashionable themselves. This in turn influenced the highly decorated, restricting women’s fashions of the day, and by the end of the Edwardian era, fashionable clothing had become more relaxed, with a simplified silhouette for women

1 Coptic socks The first is a pair of ankle length socks in red wool [2085-1900] in good condition with only one hole in the sole.[Fig ] The other three are single socks of similar design: one is now faded brown in colour, and mended with several patches on the heel,

1 Coptic socks The first is a pair of ankle length socks in red wool [2085-1900] in good condition with only one hole in the sole.[Fig ] The other three are single socks of similar design: one is now faded brown in

and men. After World War One, gone were the hourglass corseted curves of Edwardian women. Fashions and their undergarments changed dramatically, and combinations became more acceptable for womenswear, especially for cycling. The wearing of cumbersome multiple layers was considerably reduced, making way for the new fashions of Poiret, Chanel and the garçonne style of the 1920s and 30s. [image of Edwardian fashion and garconne style] The sweater in fashion As machine manufacturing developed and became mainstream, knitted goods became cheaper and available to wider social groups. Ladies adopted the gansey or jersey, emulated by their servants, as noted with humour in Punch cartoons11. [Harriet image Punch cartoon?] In 1878, the Princess of Wales and her children were photographed on the royal yacht wearing jerseys12, which started a fashion trend. In 1879 Sylvia’s Home Journal commented: ’To wear fishermen’s jerseys is the latest freak of fashion for ladies. With very little contrivance they fit very closely to the figure and when it is good, they are not unbecoming’13.. In the formality of Victorian society, special dress for men and women was evolved and designated for each new sporting activity, but as sports became more widespread during the early 20th century, this distinction largely disappeared. Fashion began to play its part, as certain popular figures (now termed celebrities) adopted particular items of clothing. The two piece ‘jersey costume’ (imparting a highly figure hugging silhouette) was given a great deal of publicity when worn by the socialite Lillie Langtry, who, being the daughter of the Dean of Jersey, was also known as The Jersey Lily, an epithet which created further cultural and linguistic links between place, fabric and garment. The fisher gansey has entered the lexicon of sweater styles, along with other local derivations, particularly the Aran sweater, associated with the Aran Isles off Ireland, which was a 20th century commercial invention, utilising similar but more

knitting

19


New Knitting sample:New Knitting sample

12/1/11

sailors’ uniform, and continues as standard issue for navy and army personnel today. The fisher gansey was exclusively working men’s attire until the late 19th century, but as outdoor and leisure pursuits grew in popularity, the close fitting jersey worn by men was audaciously adopted by women. The flexibility and comfort of knitted fabric enhanced the predominant fashion for the hourglass form, although it must be remembered that to achieve this silhouette, the Victorian and Edwardian woman would still have worn a corset beneath the jersey. The growing emancipation of women resulted in their increased participation in sports such as golf, tennis and most radically, cycling. In the 1880s, a contemporary author, Kate Geilgud wrote about changes in their usual tennis dress of serge skirts and blouses with starched linen collars, stating that friends ‘introduced us to stockinette jerseys, woollen and light, which left our necks free, though we were not allowed to roll up our sleeves’’9. Growing concerns for health and hygiene in the Victorian period led to the concept of ‘rational dress’, not concerned with unnecessary changes of fashion, indeed against its very notion. The movement, led by feminist intellectuals, advocated a type of trousers for women the infamous ‘bloomers’ named after American dress reform campaigner Amelia Bloomer. These bifurcated bloomers, together with the fitted jersey, formed an outfit which gave unprecedented freedom of movement, in addition to drawing attention to the previously disguised, hidden or even denied, sexual parts of women’s anatomy. In 1891, Louisa Starr, a former Royal Academy student, wrote in support of rational dress in Strand magazine: Our garments should be garments with a meaning and a purpose. We should never contradict nature’s simple lines by false protuberances or exaggerations. To be beautiful, clothes should by their shape express the figure underneath; any cutting about of material to contradict the natural lines of the shape must be wrong.10

18

knitting

17:53

Page 18

‘Rationals’ as the knickerbockers for women came to be known, gradually became more acceptable and mainstream – a knitting pattern was produced so women could make their own . [image of knitting pattern for bloomers –KRL]. The dress reform and aesthetic dress movements, with their emphasis on plain, simply cut clothing, ease of movement and functionality, gradually found popular and practical appeal, becoming fashionable themselves. This in turn influenced the highly decorated, restricting women’s fashions of the day, and by the end of the Edwardian era, fashionable clothing had become more relaxed, with a simplified silhouette for women

1 Coptic socks The first is a pair of ankle length socks in red wool [2085-1900] in good condition with only one hole in the sole.[Fig ] The other three are single socks of similar design: one is now faded brown in colour, and mended with several patches on the heel,

1 Coptic socks The first is a pair of ankle length socks in red wool [2085-1900] in good condition with only one hole in the sole.[Fig ] The other three are single socks of similar design: one is now faded brown in

and men. After World War One, gone were the hourglass corseted curves of Edwardian women. Fashions and their undergarments changed dramatically, and combinations became more acceptable for womenswear, especially for cycling. The wearing of cumbersome multiple layers was considerably reduced, making way for the new fashions of Poiret, Chanel and the garçonne style of the 1920s and 30s. [image of Edwardian fashion and garconne style] The sweater in fashion As machine manufacturing developed and became mainstream, knitted goods became cheaper and available to wider social groups. Ladies adopted the gansey or jersey, emulated by their servants, as noted with humour in Punch cartoons11. [Harriet image Punch cartoon?] In 1878, the Princess of Wales and her children were photographed on the royal yacht wearing jerseys12, which started a fashion trend. In 1879 Sylvia’s Home Journal commented: ’To wear fishermen’s jerseys is the latest freak of fashion for ladies. With very little contrivance they fit very closely to the figure and when it is good, they are not unbecoming’13.. In the formality of Victorian society, special dress for men and women was evolved and designated for each new sporting activity, but as sports became more widespread during the early 20th century, this distinction largely disappeared. Fashion began to play its part, as certain popular figures (now termed celebrities) adopted particular items of clothing. The two piece ‘jersey costume’ (imparting a highly figure hugging silhouette) was given a great deal of publicity when worn by the socialite Lillie Langtry, who, being the daughter of the Dean of Jersey, was also known as The Jersey Lily, an epithet which created further cultural and linguistic links between place, fabric and garment. The fisher gansey has entered the lexicon of sweater styles, along with other local derivations, particularly the Aran sweater, associated with the Aran Isles off Ireland, which was a 20th century commercial invention, utilising similar but more

knitting

19

Profile for V&A Publishing

Knitting  

Sample pages from Knitting: Fashion, Industry, Craft, by Sandy Black. Published September 2012. ISBN 9781851775590

Knitting  

Sample pages from Knitting: Fashion, Industry, Craft, by Sandy Black. Published September 2012. ISBN 9781851775590

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