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The University of Southampton
Special Collections

MSS 331-332 Montse Stanley collection

Montse Stanley

Montserrat Bayés Sopena was born in Barcelona in 1942. She qualified as an architect at the University of Barcelona, in 1973. In the following year she married Tom Stanley and moved to the UK, undertaking architectural work and architectural translations until 1980.

For the next nineteen years, she specialized in knitting, prompted by the lack of wider familiarity with the Catalonian knitting tradition. She was committed to bringing to a wider audience both creative knitting and the history of knitting. Her personal enthusiasm for all aspects of the history of knitting was based in a professional and very successful career in knitting. She was a well-known designer and maker in her own right, and she also did much to popularise the creative possibilities of hand knitting through books, television and video, and by curating exhibitions.

She published Knitting Your Own Designs (David & Charles, 1982), followed by the remarkably successful The Handknitter's Handbook (David & Charles, 1986, 1990, 1993; Reader's Digest, 1993), which sold over 200,000 copies worldwide. Stanley published over 80 articles from 1984-96, ranging from ‘Helping the Customer’, a regular column in The Knitting and Haberdashery Review (1984-90), to Draper’s Record, Country Living and The Sunday Times. She lectured and taught widely and created exhibitions from her growing personal library. In the early 1990s she produced three videos on handknitting and in 1993 with John Allen created and hosted 18 programmes of The Good Yarn Show for Anglia Television.

Stanley joined the Textile Society committee in 1988. Acting as guest editor for their 1992 edition of Text; she also organized their first European study tour, to Barcelona, in 1994. In 1993 she helped to found the Early Knitting History Group, now part of MEDATS (the Medieval Dress and Textile Society).

Montse Stanley died in 1999 by which time she had amassed an extensive working research collection which was passed to the University of Southampton.

Arrangement of collection 

The collection also contains a smaller amount of material of Audrey Muriel Straford. Stratford (1907-2000).  Under the slightly modified name of Audrie Stratford, she was an author of books on a range of topics, including knitting. She worked as a Lecturer in Physiology at Chelsea College of Physical Education, was a member of the British Federation of Women Graduates and served as Honorary Secretary of the London Association of University Women at Crosby Hall, 1944-53. She inherited her father’s business: Stratfords, a well-known menswear and protective clothing manufacturing and retail business based at King’s Lynn.

The Montse Stanley collection at the Special Collections, Hartley Library, comprises her working papers, photographs, postcards and illustrations (MS 331), a wide range of over 800 knitted objects and garments and small tools and sample yarns (MS 332).

Montse Stanley's printed collection, which comprised 5000 magazines, 1500 knitting patterns and books, forms part of the Knitting Reference Library held at Winchester School of Art Library.

About the collection at Special Collections, Hartley Library

MS 331: Montse Stanley working papers

MS331/1 Working papers include correspondence of and notes and papers by Montse Stanley; periodicals, newsletters, journal articles, press cuttings, photocopies of articles or from books, booklets, notes, much of the material not in English, collected by Montse Stanley as part of her research for projects or relating to interest groups of which she was a member, 1832-2000

MS 331/2/1 Nineteenth and twentieth century photographs and postcards detailing a world history of the use of textiles and knitting from the second century AD up to the twentieth century including photographs of museum held items, of knitters, examples of stitches, patterns and designs; adverts for wool suppliers and wool washing powder; comic postcards and promotional material showing film stars and celebrities wearing knitted items.

MS 331/2/2 Slides, mostly 1970s-90s, showing examples of tapestry, lace, crochet, knitting, embroidery and beadwork, including stiches and designs; Spanish designs, art and architecture; and dress design, knitted items and designer knitwear.

MS 331/2/3 A collection of illustrations, 1786-1996, mostly colour prints and photocopies showing eighteenth and nineteenth century costume and dress, mostly female, including Dutch and Spanish national dress. 

MS 331/2/4 Materials regarding Stanley’s commercial interests, including plastics bags advertising ‘Wild Goose’ (Stanley’s knitting mail order company), ‘true knit’ graph paper designed by Stanley and knitwear designs, samples of knitting and promotional material, 1985-93.

MS 331/2/5 A collection of musical scores either with a knitting, textile of Spanish theme of depicting people knitting or wearing knitwear.

MS 332: textiles and objects 

MS 332 Section A: the textile collection includes textiles, such as soft toys, dolls and small knitted items, lace, shawls, sweaters and other clothes, Joaquin Verdu creations, tea and egg cosies, purses and headdresses.

MS 332 Section B: the collection of objects includes ornaments, tools, beads and button, baskets (to store yarn), combs, needles, yarn, frames and bobbins.

MS 332 Section C: Audrie Stratford material including textile samples and rugs.

Date range:


Former references:



180 boxes





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