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(Fogra 39) Job:02-28051 Title:RP-Textile Artist Handbook
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Spinning, Knitting, and CroC hett he t extile a rtiS t'S Studio h andbooK
56
Machine Knitting
The knitting machine, along with advanced looms
and spinning machines, played a very big part in the
Industrial Revolution. William Lee invented the first
knitting machine, the Stocking Frame, in 1589. His
device was simple, and it replaced most production
hand knitting. The opening of the first knitting factory
quickly diminished the status of stockings as a luxury
item. The machine eventually became the basis for all
subsequent knitting machines capable of circular and
ribbed knitting.
A knitting machine is built to hold hundreds of
needles. A carriage, or cam box, travels left to right,
creating new loops from the active loops, up to mil-
lions of loops per second. Knitting machines vary in
complexity and ability, and therefore price and size.
Some are manual, and others are electronic. You can
create flat or tubular knits, as well as ribbing, and even
whole garments on most knitting machines.
If you are considering purchasing a knitting ma-
chine for your studio, it is best to research your op-
tions. If possible, take a machine knitting class so
you have a better idea of how the machines work and
whether you enjoy the process. As a starting point, a
200-needle standard gauge machine allows for a lot
of fun and exploration!
Warp and Weft
Did you know that knit fabrics have warp
(lengthwise) and weft (crosswise) threads that
run from finished edge to finished edge)? Weft-
knits are most common; they have rows that
run from left to right and each row of loops is
dependent on the one before. Warp-knits are
more complicated and are almost always cre-
ated by machine. The yarns zigzag across the
length of the created fabric, which means that
when a hole is created the fabric will not “run”
or unravel. Warp-knits are often used in delicate
garments such as lingerie.
tip
ABOVE This Brother KH860 is a
standard gauge knitting machine. You
can attach a second bed, or ribber,
and hand-manipulate stitches.
BELOW Needles on a knitting ma-
chine move back and forth using your
hand or the carriage, which moves
left to right to create new loops.
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Spinning, Knitting, and CroC het
57
The TexT ile ArT isT 's sTudio hAndbook
Crochet Overview
Crochet is more contemporary than knitting, dating
back in literary texts to the mid-nineteenth century.
The word crochet means “hook” in French, referring
to the tool used to pull a new loop of yarn through a
single active loop. Though knitting and crochet use
the same basic principle, crochet only works one ac-
tive loop at a time (with the exception of Tunisian knit-
ting). Additionally, crochet stitches vary by wrapping
the working yarn around the hook a variety of times
before pulling it through the active loop. Crochet has a
different set of symbols than knitting in terms of short
hand and pattern reading. Gauge is as important in
crochet as it is in knitting (see page 54).
Crochet is often used to create lace. It is a won-
derful technique for finishing and embellishing, and it
is also used to create jewelry and three-dimensional
structures. Because of this, some people consider
crochet to be a bit more free-form than hand-knitting.
Generally, a machine cannot be used to create the
look of crochet, and the inherent mathematical struc-
ture of crochet patterns has contributed to illustrating
the theory of hyperbolic geometry!
Yarn Bombing and Other
Contemporary Craft Uses
In the past decade there has been a huge
increase in the use of fibers by contemporary
artists. Yarn bombing is simply the use of knitted
or crocheted pieces in street art or graffiti; it is
often done during the night because it could be
considered defacing public property. Once you
start looking, you’ll find textiles popping up in
public art, which is often ephemeral. Though
groups like Knitta and artists like Olek, who have
been using “yarn bombing” in their work for
some time, there has been a huge increase in
this kind of “textile grafti” around the globe.
What would you tag with your knitting or
crochet? Take a further look at the work of the
group and artist mentioned above and you can
learn a lot more about the potential political and
conceptual meaning behind such activities.
ABOVE Textile artist Magda Sayeg
of Knitta adorns a public space with
her fiber art.
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