Machine Knitting Explained

Mum in a machine knit sweater at her knitting machine.

I have been a machine knitter for 36 years, my Mum worked on a knitting machine back in the ’60’s in England…they were invented in 1589…but it’s either not known about (‘knitting machine???’ blank look…crickets) or thought of as cheating because I’m not using two conventional needles..I’m using 100. I have knit on knitting needles for 62 years so I’m ok on that score, I went from being a hand knitter to a machine knitter as well.

There have been times when I have had to explain what I do and that I have been making my living (feast and famine) for nearly four decades. Sometimes I’m not sure what to call myself…I think I’m ‘artist’ on my passport, but am I a fibre artist, a textile artist…? A few years ago I was invited to be a member of a small, elite group of fibre artists in Kingston: Kingston Fibre Artists and though I feel so at home with this great group of women, all of whom I greatly admire, I am a bit out in left field as I am the only one who makes wearables for our annual Spring Art Show….that’s what I do…I don’t quilt…anyway, I digress.

Working Woman 2

The first show had me making a felted jacket and a knit pullover, as it had to do with the 19th century building which used to house Morton’s Brewery our brief was the building…I thought of women working ‘back then’ so designed a vest I considered coming from somewhere in the early part of the 20th century, fashion-wise. I made it on a knitting machine and though I have only made one of this style I will make it again ’cause I love it. It showed well at the show and actually sold.

Something happened the other day which was wonderful…one of my colleagues emailed me a link to an article written about machine knitting…by an accomplished knitter, designer, teacher from New York City….it explained what I do!!! Yay! The fibre artist who sent this to me put ‘Appreciate you, Carolyn’ in the subject line and said this: ‘

‘After reading this article, I so appreciate your work more than ever…How complex and amazing.’

Bethany Garner

It was so cool to have one of these wonderful women understand that I am not ‘cheating’ using a machine, any more than using knitting needles, a weaver using a loom, a potter a wheel, a quilter a sewing machine and so on…it’s my tool of choice. I kinda felt vindicated.

Here is the link to the article written by Olgalyn Jolly. Thank you Olgalyn.

Machine knitting and it’s history beautifully explained by Olgalyn Jolly

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