Please upgrade your browser

For the best experience, you should upgrade your browser. Visit our accessibility page to view a list of supported browsers along with links to download the latest version.

Jennie Atkinson

MA work

Unravelling the Knitting Pattern: A History from the 19th Century until World War II

I have spent the intervening years between completing my degree in Fashion/Textile Design and embarking on the History of Design course, working as a freelance knitwear designer, producing knitted fashion garments and, in the last few years, designing for the domestic knitting market, in the form of knitting patterns. For many years I have collected and found inspiration in the old knitting leaflets and magazines that I discovered in markets and charity shops, and I have been struck by the differences between the earliest patterns, from the 1920s, and patterns of today.

Knitting patterns seldom contain any explanatory narrative, yet much information is conveyed in their imagery, presentation and the form of the knitting instructions. It is this hidden information which I hope to unravel to reveal not only the role that knitting, and knitwear, played in women's lives, but also to expose the preoccupations of a rapidly changing society at the beginning of the 20th century.

For my dissertation I have chosen to research the history of the knitting pattern - a knitted design accompanied by written instructions - from its first appearance in the 19th century. I follow the development of the knitting pattern as it became increasingly used for making women's fashion garments in the 1920s and 30s, whilst also enabling women to support the armed forces in both world wars through knitting comforts for the troops and the make-do-and-mend government initiative.

Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2007

  • Unravelling the Knitting Pattern: A History from the 19th Century until World War II

    I have spent the intervening years between completing my degree in Fashion/Textile Design and embarking on the History of Design course, working as a freelance knitwear designer, producing knitted fashion garments and, in the last few years, designing for the domestic knitting market, in the form of knitting patterns. For many years I have collected and found inspiration in the old knitting leaflets and magazines that I discovered in markets and charity shops, and I have been struck by the differences between the earliest patterns, from the 1920s, and patterns of today.

    Knitting patterns seldom contain any explanatory narrative, yet much information is conveyed in their imagery, presentation and the form of the knitting instructions. It is this hidden information which I hope to unravel to reveal not only the role that knitting, and knitwear, played in women's lives, but also to expose the preoccupations of a rapidly changing society at the beginning of the 20th century.

    For my dissertation I have chosen to research the history of the knitting pattern - a knitted design accompanied by written instructions - from its first appearance in the 19th century. I follow the development of the knitting pattern as it became increasingly used for making women's fashion garments in the 1920s and 30s, whilst also enabling women to support the armed forces in both world wars through knitting comforts for the troops and the make-do-and-mend government initiative.

  • Experience

  • Fashion Knitwear Designer, Self-employed, London, 1980-2007