Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Britain want there Wool back!!

Lincoln Longwool sheep
I am a true Yellow Belly, born and bread in Lincolnshire, so my heart sits here and it's history certainly brings me to the belief in why I have such deep affection for British wool and Knitting. Even the term yellow belly among other stories which are said arrived apparently because of the traditional breed of sheep in the county called Lincoln Longwool. As the name suggests, it's fleece was, well, long. These sheep would graze in the fields of mustard that were once a common sight around lincolnshire. As their shaggy coat dragged along the ground it would pick up pollen from the mustard flowers and give them a yellow belly.

Through reading a lot of information on the history of British wool I have learnt that the main reason why our wonderful towns and citys are here today is because of the wealth that wool brought to our country. The textile industry was once a mainstay of British manufacturing.

Wool cloth was spun and woven by the tribes of Northern Europe even before 10,000BC. Roman emperors cherished British woollen cloth, it was so fine that is was comparable with a spiders web. 

The wool trade was of immense importance to the wealth of medieval Europe and Lincolnshire was the centre for this trade. They used the Long fine wool from it's native sheep breeds to produce a cloth which did not require the fulling process. This fulling process is a shrinking method. It requires soft water and water power through mills which need hills and fast running streams. The process was mainly used in the Pennine Districts of Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Due to the new inventions which speeded the process of spinning and weaving based mainly around Lancashire during the industrial revolution of 1750-1850, the older industries which were in places like Stamford and Lincoln declined and never recovered.
We are pleased to see the wool trade coming back into fashion with even a royal seal of approval by prince Charles who has backed National wool week in an attempt to reignite our love of Britain's most natural, eco-friendly and durable yarn. 

Info on British wool week:

Stamford was particularly famous for it's woven cloth called haberget. The towns communication routes via the great north road and the river Welland to the North sea ensured the success of it's trade.

Derek Lawlor
What I can see is that people are stuck to thinking that knit is an old method only used by grannys. Our granny's are cool!! You can create your own piece with any colour you want, in any structure with yarn, it's really exciting and not as complicated as you think, if you want to knit faster you can even use a knit machine instead of your hands. There is so much potential with knit as it stopped at a point and wasn't experimented even further. 

These days we buy all our goods for fashion abroad when we have a fibre in England which could be better than anything if we play with it more. We now have the opportunity with technology and all that to bring back a world wide name for England. The wool industry could even bring back employment. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The end of University is here and I'm still smiling

It has come to the end of university and nows the time to find a job, graduate this september, help out with this knit show at the Hub in Sleaford and promote myself at the Graduate Fashion week in London, oh yeah and also of all things pay all the depts that university has very nicely built up through the last three years.

Everything went better than expected. There were moments where I nearly set my knitting machine on fire, threw the overlocker out my window, crushed the sewing machine or even nearly lost my cool with the teachers, but thank goodness I managed to keep my self together.

I managed to get some wonderful friends to model in my outfits for the critique. I couldn't have better models. They even came over a few days before so I could work out what accessories and shoes to match. They had no hesitation. Lots of thanks to Jodie, Danny, Lisa and Jen. For the critique we were to create four finished outfits, this was a success and the lecturers seemed very delighted by the collection, I managed to get some lovely compliments and was told to create another outfit using the spare materials to add with the four others for the catwalk.

Within two days I managed to design and make this silk dress just in time for when the teachers were choosing which outfits would go on the catwalk. Luckily all five outfits were accepted but I was told to do plenty more. They didn't believe that I would be able to finish all the jobs given but being myself I do love to surprise, teehee!! Above all the jobs that they gave me I also managed to make a necklace with my knitted faces on, make a bracelet which wasn't used in the end, buy accessories, make a vintage camera a neck piece and decorate my shoes using a soldering iron and some knit. I was determined to get that one picture from my imagination into a real thing.

Here's the illustration for the four outfits of my collection.

My collection was called 'Enticing Extramundane'. The research for the theme started from this book which I read during the summer called Banners of Silk by Rosalind Laker, a book that my great aunty Betty gave to me which happened to drop out of my bookshelf one day with a little note saying 'read me'. It's about a seamstress who worked for a very well known English designer called Charles Worth who made his success in France in the mid 1800s.

I was determined to use Charles Worth as inspiration after reading this book so I used that period as my main goal and realised that the Paris opera house was built at a similar time bringing me to a musical which my friend Natalie introduced to me on the first year of university called Phantom of the Opera. I wanted to bring the music into the garments, that organ. I tried to put together elegance at the same time as something beyond the physical world. I used baroque and gothic architecture to bring structure and detailing into the garments. Masquerade balls seemed to enter in like a lightning bolt during the design process steering me to the knitted faces. My intention was to go beyond my imagination. Though I did go to a point where I thought I was going too far leading me to making two of the outfits less extreme as intended, but I believe it all worked out well anyways.

 Below are some photographs of my collection on the catwalk at the University of Lincoln Fashion Show.

 The dress at the front is my own design print on fabric using Lincoln Cathedral as inspiration. It took many attempts to print but eventually was solved.
 The photograph above is of the outfit which was made after the critique. You can see on the shoes my attempt at drawing eyes with the soldering iron and applying knit for the lips.

This outfit is my favourite out of the lot as it certainly took the longest to make. The top is four faces attached to each other, one on each side of the bodice, one at the front and one at the back. The main piece has been knitted by machine with an extensive amount of mathematics involved. The lips and eyes are hand knitted onto the piece. The skirt below was machine knitted by myself as well with a velvet lined skirt underneath fastened at the waist to hold the weight of the knit.