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The University of Southampton

Utility and Style: Knitting 1914—2014

Published: 14 March 2014

The University of Southampton is currently holding an exhibition exploring 100 years of knitting between 1914 and 2014.

The University of Southampton is currently holding an exhibition exploring 100 years of knitting between 1914 and 2014.

The exhibition, on display at the Special Collections Gallery at the Hartley Library, brings together knitted objects with knitting patterns, booklets, journals, postcards and magazines. Many are from the Knitting Collections held by the University’s Winchester School of Art (WSA) and the Hartley Library at the Highfield Campus.

Exhibition curator and Head of the Knitting Reference Library at WSA, Linda Newington comments: “Visitors are taken on a journey from the practicality and utility of clothing during the First World War to the explosion of fashion and style in the 60s, 70s and 80s. A project by students at WSA brings the exhibition right up to date, with a display of their contemporary designs influenced by items from our collections.”

The exhibition showcases some unusual and intriguing objects and articles, including knitted bandages from the First World War, knitting pamphlets from the Second World War, a pattern for the iconic ‘Starsky and Hutch’ jacket, an early modelling appearance by a young Kate Moss and an authentic pink ‘punk’ jumper. It also contains many items from the Montse Stanley Collection, held by the University Library. Montse Stanley was a collector, knitter and historian who’s collection is conserved by the University. Items on display include a knitted pineapple purse, a variety of women’s bags and a selection of knitting tools.

Knitwear Design students at WSA took part in a project called ‘The Devil is in the Detail’ focused on the production of designs, sketchbooks, swatches and technical information linked to the Montse Stanley Collection of knitted bags and purses. A research visit to the Special Collections to view a selection of the objects has produced a rich and inspiring mix of swatches; clearly connecting with Montse Stanley’s own approach, demonstrating the varied detail of construction, colour, design, embellishment, pattern and texture.

The exhibition also contains items by WSA alumni, for example, a knitted outfit designed by Alex Pengelly and a jumper designed by Lucy Jones as part of a special project for internationally renowned design-led luxury hand knit yarn company Rowan in 2013.

Knitting 1914 – 2014 is on display at the Special Collections Gallery, Hartley Library, University of Southampton until Friday 4 April 2014 – Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm.

For more information about the Knitting Collections at Southampton visit:

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