Archive for the ‘Knitting patterns’ Category

Image courtesy University of Southampton Library

Image courtesy University of Southampton Library

A small selection of menswear knitting patterns, copyright cleared with the yarn company Sirdar, from the Knitting Reference Library are now available via a link on our website at http://www.soton.ac.uk/intheloop
The patterns are all from the Richard Rutt Collection which is especially strong on menswear. I have included a few of my favourites all images Courtesy of the University of Southampton Library.

This has been a “pilot-project” to explore digitising a selection of the knitting patterns. Sirdar have been very supportive in allowing us to digitise the covers which will help us profile and promote the collection as both a research and educational resource.

The project has been quite complex involving much investigation and research into company histories, cataloguing and indexing, and copyright clearance for open access licences. This has all been quite complicated in relation to making the patterns digitally available. The primary intention is to improve access and profile the collection around different themes starting with menswear.

Users need to remember that knitting patterns are an important aspect of a company’s archive and heritage so having permission regarding copyright clearance has been a key factor for us as an institution.

Here are just a few of my personal favourites which reveal the interesting imagery of knitting patterns. In my view they are an aspect of our national heritage, relating not only to knitting but also to business and textile history, the aspirations of knitters through the 20th century and how knitting patterns relate to fashion and everyday clothing.

Our collection commences around the 1920s through the decades of the twentieth century into the present day. It includes menswear, womenswear and childrenswear, the knitting campaigns of World War 1 and World War 11, knitting for the home, patterns for dolls clothes and novelties.



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Richard Rutt, popularly known as the Knitting Bishop, donated his library to the University of Southampton in recognition of his knitting friendship with Montse Stanley whose Knitting Collections were already held by the University Library. I first visited Richard and his wife Joan at their home in Falmouth to view the collection in preparation for packing and transport. I continued to visit over the years, they always made me very welcome with tea and cake whilst I updated them on our work with the Knitting Collections.

Jumpers hand knitted by Richard Rutt

At the time of his donation and at my request Richard wrote a text entitled A boy’s knitting which outlines his life in knitting. He learnt to knit at the age of 7 and was taught by his maternal grandfather. From that age he learnt a range of technical skills always enjoying the challenge of construction and technique. In 1987  at the age of 52 he published A history of hand knitting which remains a key text for the subject. At this time he was also chairman of the Knitting & Crochet Guild. Richard’s life included more than knitting, a full biography is available on Wikipedia and an obituary remains available on the internet.

A special feature of Richard Rutt’s library is a collection of Victorian knitting manuals published from the 1840s through to the end of the 19th century. As part of a JISC funded project led by the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS) all these books have now been digitised and are available to search through a link on our website. Leading on from this work we are in the middle of a pilot project to digitise a selection of his knitting patterns focusing on six boxes of menswear totalling about 1000 patterns in total. However this is dependent on copyright clearance being granted through yarn companies who are usually the publishers.

Page from a Victorian book by Miss Terry

His library is now part of the Knitting Reference Library (KRL) based at the School of Art in Winchester. It also includes the printed resources of Montse Stanley and Jane Waller. The KRL overall comprises books,  journals, magazines and patterns. We aim to be a resource for all those interested in any aspect of knitting including designers, historians and students,  also visiting researchers. Since 2008 we have had a notable number of enquiries and visitors from both University staff and students but also from the external community who are not only from the UK.

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