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MEETING THE PRESSER An interactive film application
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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.
The Narrow Frame
William Lee first invented the 'Narrow Frame' knitting machine, at around 16 inches wide, in the late 1500s.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
The types of glass globes in the workshops can be seen in the first collection of images.
All images are from the the Wigston Frame Knitting Museum.
The Globe Pub - Leicester
The Globe Pub in Leicester is so called after the Frame knitters who used to meet there.
Spot the Globe
8 Steps for a machine stitch:
8 Steps for a machine stitch - Video:
This image show different types of needle found in framwwork knitting machines, side on.
This image shows the general mechanisms and working of a knitting frame
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
Sounds of knitting frames:
Sound: One Knitting Frame
Sound: The Winder
Sound: Six Knitting Frames
Sound: Martin's Knitting Frame
A small collection of items made on a Frame knitting machine
News & product adverts
Here are a few old newspapers found within the holes in the Makers Yard walls from around that time it was used as a knit shop.
Martin is the only commercial manufacturer of knitted garments using knitting frames from the 1850s