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The University of Southampton

Winchester School of Art prepares fashion students for industry with new ‘computerised’ knitting machines

Published: 3 December 2009

The University of Southampton’s Winchester School of Art has invested in two new state-of-the-art computerised knitting machines to help its students gain vital skills for a competitive market.

“While the traditional image of knitting is needles and yarn, the majority of garments found in the shops will have been produced on high-tech machines like these,” says Knit Lecturer Richard Levis.

“Knitwear is big business and there are many quality brands like Pringle, John Smedley and Jaeger competing on the High Street. Our students need to be entering the business with experience of the kinds of processes used in industry.”

Students will now be able to plan their designs on computer, enter data about stitch, pattern and colours – and then use software to tell the machine what to produce. The garment can now be made in minutes, instead of several hours on a traditional machine.

“The speed of the process will allow students to spend more time concentrating on the creative process – the look and feel of the garment and give them more flexibility to research and experiment with ideas,” comments Richard.

The new Shima Seiki (SES 122-S) electronic v-bed knitting machines were so large and heavy they had to be winched into a first floor window of Winchester School of Art using a mobile crane.

Programme Leader in Textiles, Fashion and Fibre, Jon Hopkins says, “This represents a significant enhancement to our existing provision and a commitment by the School to support our students and prepare them for industry and advances in the knitwear sector. The purchases follow recent consultation with industry partners and Shima Seiki UK.”

The machines are part of a wider programme of investment aimed at improving the School’s facilities and helping students prepare for future work. This includes the creation of the ‘Lectra Suite’ – a dedicated IT resource with specialist software for Fashion and Textile Design students; the purchase of new PCs and Macintosh computers; a large new booth for the safe application of sprayed adhesives and paints; and replacement windows and re-cladding for a large part of the main School building.



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