The Power of Fashion: The Influence of Knitting Design on the Development of Knitting Technology

The Power of Fashion: The Influence of Knitting Design on the Development of Knitting Technology

By Vesna Marija Potocic Matkovic

Textile: The Journal of Cloth & Culture, Vol. 8 Issue 2 (2010)

Abstract: It is recognized that technology, with its possibilities, affects industrial design. Likewise, it is believed that design has a reversible impact on technology. This study looks for clear examples of design’s influence on the development of knitting technology. The parallel development of design and technology is traced back to the emergence of the knitting frame in 1589. The brocade influences from the seventeenth century, which influenced the development of knitting techniques, are apparent, as well as the effect of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century market demands for lace, which strongly encouraged the development of devices for knitted lace production. The short-lived fashion trend of vertically striped socks has left far-reaching consequences in the construction of wider knitting frames and the new method of knitwear production. In the first half of the nineteenth century, changes in fashion almost destroyed the knitting industry. From the beginning of the twentieth century, the debut of knitted pullovers for sport encouraged the development of innovative flat knitting machines. It was through these machines that the biggest potential for the production of different designs came through and the fashion industry encourages it—until the 1980s. Up until this time, the world of fashion has been surprisingly showing very little interest.

Introduction: The topic of this article is the dual influence that design and technology have on one another, focusing on the ever less researched prominence that design has on technology. Design cannot be separated from the techniques or technology needed for its realization. The designer is more or less occupied with technology and materials, i.e. the media that he/she uses to express himself/herself. It is known that applied technologies which will be used to produce a manufactured object greatly influence its form. It is also critical, as we follow the development of many objects through time, that we can see how the change of forms follows the development of technology.

Much research on the development of design has been carried out that, along with the individual designer’s success, is connected with changes in materials and the technological and organizational outline of the industry. The relation between design and technology of the production of household devices, furniture and motor vehicles has been well described. However, equally systematic research in the field of knitting does not exist, regardless of the fact that in the production of knitwear manufacturing technology and design are intermingled in a way that is quite unlike the other branches of industrial design. This article is one step toward filling this void.

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