Case Study

Night on the Knit

People seated watching a presentation in a big open space at the University of Huddersfield

night on the knit PART 1

In recognition of the amazing knitting community that produced the Big Rainbow Knit at the 2021 festival, WOVEN and the The University of Huddersfield Textile department, offered  an opportunity to explore contemporary knitting in all its forms – from domestic hand knitting to industry & machine knitting.

The Night on the Knit evening began with a tour of the University knitting room and the incredible machines and technology being used by students & staff. Then we were joined by two inspirational guest speakers Amy Twigger-Holdroyd and Wesley Manners.

The tour, led by textiles tutors, technicians and students,  took the visitors around the state of the art University textiles departments, focusing on the knitting machines, from how the students use the domestic machines to the industrial Dubied machines. The audience were fascinated by the machines, how the students learn and the relationship with industry. They themselves said they would love the opportunity to try the machines for themselves. 

‘Loved the insight into how this is taught at the uni’

The next part of the evening was the talks from two knitting professionals, both at very different points in their knit careers. 

Dr Amy Twigger-Holroyd, associate professor of fashion & textiles at Nottingham Trent University, who is from Holmfirth, leads research projects on the intersection of fashion, making, design and sustainability. She talked  about her inspiring project, the reknit revolution  The audience were animated  to consider how they can re-work garments, embellish and bring garments back to life. One audience member fedback that they were reminded of their own relationship with knitted garments.

Wesley Manners, a Central St Martins graduate and young contemporary knitwear designer from Leeds talked about how they use  knitting machines to create garments that explore culture and identity, particularly that of the queer community. Wesley took the audience through their knitting journey, from being taught to knit  by their nan when they were 7, to designing contemporary outfits for the fashion and music industries today. 

Feedback from the audience was incredibly positive. They felt inspired and challenged, and comments were made that although they were at times pushed out of their comfort zone, they left feeling inspired to try something new. We know that at least one person went home and blew the dust off their long untouched knitting machine!

night on the knit PART 2

As there was such a keen appetite for more Night on the Knit events, WOVEN ran two more in 2023.

On a March snowy night in Huddersfield over 20 people turned up at Thread Republic to discuss sustainability in knit. 

‘Lively chat, good activities, supporting sustainability, following on from Night on the Knit 1’

Lively discussions included the ethics of community yarn bombing and how sustainable it can be, with topics including: acrylic yarn for its bright colours and longevity vs natural wool which has less of an impact on the planet, how long yarn bombs should stay up for and the positive impact that yarn bombing can have in bringing people together and brightening a community area. 

Hands-on sustainability activities included trying out different mending techniques with Kim Searle of Darn It and experimenting with T Shirt yarn with Julie Roebuck of Upcycle Fashion. 

Hands on activities = lovely evening  – lovely people’ 

The final Night on the Knit was during the WOVEN23 festival and was kindly sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters, and ran in Huddersfield Art gallery, surrounded by the stunning Quilted Exhibition

The overall theme this time was careers in knit, asking a range of inspiring speakers to tell us about their journeys in knit  – early inspirations, employment, insights into the realities – what’s great about it and what are the challenges working in the textiles industry. To showcase this we had a jam packed programme of talks and demonstrations from people who have forged successful careers through a variety of interesting routes. 

To kick us off we zoomed in with Florain Elese and Kathryn Lund, both knitwear graduates who received sponsorship from the Worshipful Company of Framework knitters. Florian is a graduate from the London College of Fashion and went on to work for Burberry, and Kathryn is a University of Huddersfield graduate, now working at Johnston’s of Elgin. 

Amy Chen and Gill Bond then provided the hands on experience. Amy started with a presentation on her career and exciting approaches in combining knit with technology and then invited participants to try our a knitting machine. In contrast Gill Bond of Wild About Wool provided a hand knitted challenge.

We were then joined by Emma and Kate from Yarndale  – the festival of yarn and woolley creativity. Their careers in knit took a very different path, coming in via teaching, festivals and theatre to share the joy of making with hooks and needles.

And to close this fabulous woolley occasion we had the wonderful Julie from the Crochet & Knitting Guild collection  bringing stunning pieces and stories from the archives in Slaithwaite. 

And so the Night in the Knit journey ended, we started with fledgling careers and closed with the heritage of this timeless craft.

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