Knitting 1914-2014: making connections


This exhibition showcases a range of resources within a small selection of themes, to illustrate the potential connections between knitted object, ephemera, printed sources and recent publications.

Resources for the exhibition have been selected from the Knitting Collections held by the University of Southampton Library. They are divided between the Knitting Reference Library at Winchester School of Art and the Montse Stanley Collection held by the Special Collections at the Hartley Library.

In addition the exhibition includes knitwear and swatches designed by Winchester School of Art knitwear students and Alumni.

case 2

‘Case 2: Jumper Craze.’ Image courtesy of the University of Southampton.

The Knitting Reference Library, which comprises the printed collections of Richard Rutt, Montse Stanley and Jane Waller, brings together books, exhibition catalogues, knitting patterns and booklets, journals and magazines. New material continues to be added as the notable knitting revival has generated an increase in publications since 2000. The Knitting Pattern Collection is estimated to hold over 12,000 individual patterns dating from the early twentieth century. Many knitting patterns have been donated by members of the public, enriching and extending the collection.

The Montse Stanley Collection is made up of an estimated 1000 knitted objects, as well as albums of photographs and postcards, working papers, slides and sheet music. The collection reveals a wide-ranging interest in many aspects of knitting, from the technical to the aesthetic, the practical to the decorative and the historical to the popular.

The exhibition begins with knitting from World War 1 (1914-1918) and World War 11(1939-45). There is a focus on the official and non-official in leaflets, patterns and postcards. It then shows knitting through the twentieth century to the present day using the themes of – knitwear for men and women, knitting in magazines, swatches, tools and materials, and a student project related to the Montse Stanley Collection of bags and purses.


Case 1 ‘World War 1 bandages’ : Image courtesy of the University of Southampton.

Developing resources around the single theme of knitting has enhanced the profile of the collections. The material has been used for the purposes of education, learning and research by staff and students and accessed by a wide range of external visitors.

The first international, inter-disciplinary knitting conference entitled In the loop: knitting past, present and future was held at Winchester School of Art in 2008.  Since that time a series of events and conferences has been established, the most recent being In the loop 3.5: making connections, held at Mareel, Shetland in 2013 and co-organised with Shetland Arts.

 Linda Newington, Head of Library and Archive Collections for Art and Design

 The exhibition is being held in The Special Collections Gallery at the Hartley Library, Monday 10 February to Friday 4 April 2014

Two linked Study Days will take place from Wednesday 2 to Thursday 3 April 2014

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