Janet Major

 sustainable styling, sustainable textiles


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knitting (designer)
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Designer Knitting

Just like sewing I have knitted for many years. My earliest memory is of helping my teacher, Mrs Lawrence (names of good teachers stick in the mind!) had me helping her teach the class to knit. This was my 4th class so I estimate I was about 8 – 9. The interesting thing is I had a table to teach at and people brought their knitting to me – how cool was that! We were knitting a bottle green pixie hat with long garter stitch ties which went up the front of the hat (made from 2 stocking stitch rectangles). Unfortunately the hat is no more and I don’t appear to have any photos. Those truly were the days when we learnt knitting at school!

I have continued to knit, both by hand and machine. However, I am dismayed at how many people who knit for themselves ‘hate’ the result. However, this is no surprise at all, if the pattern is bought, the yarn  recommended is bought and the garment is knitted then it is not guaranteed to fit or suit you. This approach does nothing to increase the skill level of knitters and to me, is all about selling patterns and yarn. Think about it, if you see a lovely knitted garment in a shop you try it on and frequently decide it is not for you! At least you did not take the time and trouble to knit it before you found that out.

Knitting has many similarities with sewing in terms of getting a result you love. I suggest that getting a knitted garment ‘right’ is harder than a sewn garment as you are making the fabric and getting the fit right at the same time.

It is much more satisfactory and likely to lead to greater satisfaction to treat a knitted pattern as a sewn one:

Decide on the style, colour and texture of the garment, particularly consider the texture needed (good drape vs firmer)

Plan the finishing details – depths of ribs, buttons etc etc

Make a toile of the pattern out of stretch jersey or similar – this can be challenging as many patterns avoid giving you schematics!

Make adjustments AND notes of this improved garment

Knit  decent sized samples – the final one can double up as your tension piece which needs to be treated as the garment will be before measuring (eg. washed & blocked)

Knit  the garment pieces

Block these to the exact size of the pattern pieces and finally

Construct the garment, my usual preference is with a sewing machine

Add any additional edgings, details etc ( and further washing if needed)

And hopefully love the completed garment

 Once you are freed from absolute pattern following with your knitting you can take yourself to the next level. (It will be even better if you know your body profile and what colours your body is comfortable with.)

Don’t be afraid to change bought knitwear – simple changes like replacing buttons, taking in sleeves, shortening sleeves, ending your dresses, skirts and coats at a flattering level for you. Think refit, remodel, repair, repurpose before you go down the recycle route.

How about thinking in terms of making more than just garments; think about accessories to co-ordinate with garments eg. necklaces, scarves, hats, gloves.

 A hybrid machine knit (body) and hand knit yoke. Great compliment to the Harris Tweed skirt - see here. More on blog of 10Jan16                                                                      


My most treasured knitting aid: I am going to give two as I including hand and machine knitting – my wpi (wraps per inch guide), my large (door sized) blocking board

Best tip: consider whether you want knitting that drapes or is firm and make sure the finished product delivers to that brief

More on hand knitting, including examples here

More on machine knitting, including examples here


Some examples here:

A machine knit 'basic' cream ladies jumper  , a classic jumper for a man, a top in Grigna

I am still adding more information here  and I regularly blog about current projects.

Individual or group teaching; demonstrations, talks, presentations and workshops available.




©janet major carleton rode norfolk 07990 702223     info@janetmajorimage.co.uk