FIREFOX detected - While you can still view the film in Firefox, the additional content prompts are not available due to Firefox not handling HTML5 "text tracks" very well (at time of writing). Please try this app with the latest Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer or an up-to-date tablet - Thank you!

An interactive film application

As the video runs, you can see additional content by tapping / clicking the PROMPTS that appear over the bottom of video.

If you follow a PROMPT, the video will pause and you can easily return where you left it at anytime.

00:00 00:00

Located in Leicester's cultural quarter, this listed building is the oldest surviving hosiery factory in the East Midlands.

Makers Yard History -  Panel 2
Makers Yard History -  Panel 3

The Wide Frame

The 'Wide Frame' knitting machine, at around 30 inches wide, was an evolution from the early narrow frame machine. It was (and is in Martin's case) capable of machining more pieces concurrently than its narrow father predecessor, and hence gave knitters a greater rate of production per person.

East Midlands Knitting Industry

The East Midlands had around 32 thousand knitting frames distributed throughout, focussed in the cities of Leicester and Nottingham and following the waterways.

framework knitting shop

Many frames existed still in the smaller towns and scattered throught villages and more rural areas.

illustration taken from the booklet on Framework Knitting by Marilyn Palmer

In the mid 19th Century framework knitting moved from being a cottage industry, with knitting machines located in knitters homes, to workshops housing dozens of machines.

This move was an intermediary step in terms of worker and employer relationships; with the knitter still self employed and responsible for machine hire and maintenance, standing (rent for workshop space) and winding their own yarn. Makers Yard, Ruddington and Wigston Framework Knitters Museum are examples of mid 19th Century workshops.

It was not until the 1870s that powered mechanisation reached the knitting industry, and even then take up was sporadic. It was the introduction of powered machines that led to the much larger factories of the 20th Century.


Rudding workshop machine

Visit the Ruddington Website

Ruddington Framework Knitters Museum is a small complex of buildings Located just south west of Nottingham.

There are two workshop buildings, with large windows running the length of both. In one workshop, on the first floor, there is a collection of framework knitting machines packed closely together as they would have been when the workshop was operational.

The workshop is now a museum where you can see working framework knitting machines and much more besides.

Makers Yard

Makers Yard outside

Visit the Makers Yard Website

The first part of Makers Yard was built in 1854, and the characteristic large windows, and embedded beams (to bolt machines to the wall so they didn't move whilst in operation), suggest that its primary purpose was to house Framework Knitting Machines.

The building was added to over the years and its purpose has changed with the vagaries of the textile industry, however, when built, it was one of the first hosiery factories in Leicester.

Currently, Makers Yard houses units for artists and designer–makers (it is not open to the public).


Wigston knitting machine

Visit the Wigston Website

Wigston Framework Knitters is located to the south of Leicester. Originally built towards the end of the 17th Century, the building has had many additions and modifications, though has probably been a site of framework knitting since it was built.

In the grounds there is a two-story framework knitting shop dating from the 1890's, with characteristic windows running the length of the building.

Wigston Framework Knitters is now a museum, and has eight framework knitting machines in the workshop (opening hours are limited so check the website for details).

A gallery of Light-Globes

Other images from the set

8 Steps for a machine stitch:

8 Steps for a machine stitch - Video:

Peter Clowes originally likened frame knitting to playing the organ. This first audio history resource is a recording of Peter talked about this.

Peter Clowes 1 - Playing the organ

Some more selected snippets from Peter Clowes Interview:

Peter Clowes 2 - Learning to knit

Peter Clowes 3 - Payments and wages

Peter Clowes 4 - How Frames Work

Peter Clowes 5 - Full Interview

A small collection of items made on a Frame knitting machine



Martins Website

Martin is the only commercial manufacturer of knitted garments using knitting frames from the 1850s

Visit Martin's website

Featuring and Narrated by
Martin Green

Song of the Shirt Read by
Elaine Pantling of laurielorry Theatre Company

Bearded Needle demonstration by
Andy Bone of Ruddington Framework Knitters Museum

Audio History
Peter Clowes MBE
of Wigston Framework Knitters Museum
Interview courtesy of East Midlands Oral History Archive

Thanks to

Paul Baker
Ruddington Framework Knitters Museum

Suzannah Brooksbank of Shire Library

Illustrations of how the sinkers and bearded needles operate based on drawings by
David J Eveleigh

Which appear in Framework Knitting
by Marilyn Parker - Emeritus Professor of Industrial Archaeology at the University of Leicester.

Stuart Simpson

Edited By
Jade Boaler