University of Southampton Library
Montse Stanley was a collector, knitter and historian. She set up the “Knitting Reference Library” in her Cambridge home as a private collection. It comprised knitted clothing and objects, knitting tools, ephemera, an extensive library on knitting including books, journals, magazines, patterns and her working papers. She is known for her indispensable book on hand knitting The handknitter’s handbook: a comprehensive guide to the principles and techniques of handknitting, first published in 1986 by David and Charles which has been reprinted many times and in a variety of languages. Her collection was acquired by the University of Southampton Library in 1999. A distinct and unique feature of this collection is the link made possible between knitted object, published text and the visual representation of knitting from ephemera such as knitting patterns, photographs and postcards. Her library of printed works is located at the University’s Winchester School of Art Library. The collection of objects, tools, photographs, postcards and her working papers is located in Special Collections at the Hartley Library.
The collection of knitted objects is impressive in both range and richness, offering an interesting and varied picture of many aspects of knitting. It provides researchers with a unique and valuable resource. The collection demonstrates the high level of skill that may be found in knitting. The objects themselves illustrate the persistence of knitting as an activity whose practitioners find inventive ways of maintaining a tradition whilst also developing new forms and applications. Montse Stanley’s Spanish origin is reflected in aspects of these collections through Spanish and Hispanic knitted objects and publications.