With the knitwear season in full swing, autumn is the busiest time of year for STUDY 34. And having recently started working with knitwear students at a local university, I thought this would be a good time to share with you what it is about knitwear specifically that so enthrals me, because I find it’s a discipline that is often overlooked.
Craftsmanship was what drew me to fashion when I was a teenager. I’ve always loved learning how to make beautiful things and it was only as I got older that I appreciated the functional side of the things I could make. I love a beautiful fabric but finding a way to make it functional as well as ornate is a challenge I enjoy.
I thought any design career in the fashion industry would allow me to explore this fusion, but I discovered pretty quickly that we’ve lost our appreciation of craftsmanship in favour of cheaper, mass-produced items, whose union of craftsmanship and functionality are barely considered, if indeed at all.
The fusion of fabric and final shape is what makes knitwear so unique.
I have always been fascinated by fibres, colour combinations, surface textures and the way fabric is cut and draped on the body. But, like many fashion students, a choice between creating fabrics or creating clothes had to be made early on, so I began a degree in textile design.
But it was in my first year that I was introduced to knitwear – a discipline I quickly discovered would allow me to explore this fusion by developing fabric as well as a final garment.
I remember the first time I was exposed to an industrial knitting machine– the girl on the machine (deep in concentration), the fabric she was making (fine gauge), the colour (grey), the texture (open and lace like) and the yarn (fine silk).
From then on, I can only describe my interest and enthusiasm for it as akin to hunger. For the remainder of my degree, I was the last one out and the first one in every day.
STUDY 34 explores the relationship between fabric and form.
When I started working in the industry, I once again found myself limited and having to choose between fabric creation and garment design while my real interest still lay in how one could influence and complement the other.
Unable to find fulfilment in design jobs, I wondered how I might get back to that point of deep fascination that I had experienced at university.
And that is when STUDY 34 came into being. It was and is my way of immersing myself in the process and development of a garment, starting from a single fibre.
STUDY 34 knitwear is about fibre, hand feel, drape, colour, fit, shape, ease of wear and care - and understanding how all of these elements work together is what still fascinates me. And it is what makes knitwear so unique and exciting.
Knitwear requires you to consider from one end of yarn how a garment can be created. And that simple starting point influences absolutely everything that follows. So when you find a fibre as unique as alpaca, where luxury really does start from the first stitch, developing clothes is a fascinating process.
STUDY 34 will be at the Country Living Christmas Fairs this year
Glasgow (stand SB3) and Harrogate (HC13)
North East Times Magazine, October 2018