Knitwear design and history: Women's Institute meeting. Sample containing about 6177 words speech recorded in leisure context

3 speakers recorded by respondent number C258

PS29N Ag4 m (Lewis, age 50+, knitwear designer and producer) unspecified
GYNPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
GYNPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 097501 recorded on unknown date. LocationNottinghamshire: Southwell () Activity: Womens' Institute meeting speech

Undivided text

Lewis (PS29N) [1] Thank you very much for supporting the evening, nice to see so many faces, as I said especially on a summer evening like today.
[2] We didn't really get an Indian summer right on the [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [laugh]
Lewis (PS29N) [3] Erm, just to give you something of my credentials for being here, er the name is, is Lewis .
[4] Erm I took a degree in textiles in the late fifties and I've specialized in the design, development and manufacture of knitted outer-wear ever since.
[5] A number of companies throughout the country, [...] er Derbyshire , been in Scotland with a company called in the er in er in the border country.
[6] [cough] and in varied places.
[7] [...] the Courtauld, one of the big Courtauld companies in the late sixties, early sixties.
[8] And then ten years ago I started my own company er started in a very small way to begin with.
[9] Just two machines, four people and gradually that got up to a reasonable size er i it grew on the back of companies like ,,, manufacturing what I call the coordinated look cos knitwear was utilized for bringing other things together.
[10] I mean you see it today, don't you?
[11] In the nice shops, you see a nice er woven skirt, woven, nice blouse, the knitwear brings it all together.
[12] That's how we built our company, and we did maximize from the hundred and thirty girls from three years ago.
[13] Erm but I put the company into liquidation at that point, because of the problems we were all having in industry, and started again about a year, two years ago.
[14] Now we're back to six people again and they're all working for me in a very small way.
[15] Again working with the same sort of people, but in a very small and for our own [...] as well.
[16] So that's the nature of the world to day, you have to move with the times, it's going to be a [...] but er this is how we survive.
[17] It's one of the reasons we're doing this as well, because it gets our products out of the [...] people directly.
[18] So that's er [...] I mean you probably know we do, I do a talk erm I call it a story rather than a talk, and I say I hope it's interesting as a story.
[19] It's about the craft of knitwear and how it's developed from hand-knitting into the modern production units there are today.
[20] And what influenced that er development.
[21] The sort of things briefly are, obviously demand, the machine development, new materials new yarns, fashion and design.
[22] They're the elements that have changed what knitwear is from what it was.
[23] [cough] So erm in [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [cough]
Lewis (PS29N) [24] to start the, the talk or the story by asking er ladies here, if they know where the, or the [...] know where knitwear started as a craft, the actual first knitted fabric started?
[25] Anybody any ideas?
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [26] Wales.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [27] Wales is an interesting one, sorry?
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [28] Ireland.
Lewis (PS29N) [29] Ireland, there's another.
[30] [...] any more?
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [31] What about Nottinghamshire?
Lewis (PS29N) [32] What about Nottinghamshire, yeah
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...] [laugh]
Lewis (PS29N) [33] Er no, I'm talking about before that.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [34] Oh.
Lewis (PS29N) [35] I'm talking about really
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...] [background to following]
Lewis (PS29N) [36] when it started.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [37] Lancashire.
Lewis (PS29N) [38] Yeah, it's amazing we're all thinking about the U K aren't we?
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...] [background to following]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [39] Babylon.
Lewis (PS29N) [40] Would you believe, yes, [...] .
[41] Actually it started in Arabia.
[42] Which is amazing isn't it?
[43] I was in, I was in the industry for thirty years before I realized or find out that it's an Arabian craft.
[44] And the
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [45] evidence for this was found, the very first fabric or the earliest fab was found, in Spain, on the pillow of the tomb of one of the great Moorish lords.
[46] It had survived because it had got a metallic thread running through it.
[47] And so the pillow shape was there and it, and the knitted [...] there.
[48] And that was something like er two hundred A D. And we know [...] .
[49] And we know that from that it went back to B C, we can trace it back to B C from Arabia.
[50] But it's in having said that it's an interesting fact that the knitted fabric as such we know, is a warm sort of comfortable fabric and it's obviously used in where I call the, the cold climes, and that, that's why it's developed in the very areas we've been talking about.
[51] It developed in the northern er northern hemisphere, so Scotland, Ireland, the Yorkshire coast, anywhere where there was er outside er employment like the fishermen or [...] places like er Yorkshire, [...] all those areas have got their own knitted [...] .
[52] So it was developed by the ladies of the day for the men to do their work and they developed their special patterns like Arran stitches, which I'm going to show you now, like Fair Isle stitches.
[53] They were developed at that time as a useful product for the, for the menfolk.
[54] There's the Arran, we all know the classic Arran, there's hundreds of them, and there's a more modern one but that's the traditional one there.
[55] And that's a traditional one that's been made for in a modern, modern colour.
[56] I mean they didn't have them in those colours in those days, that was the true Arran.
[57] In black wool, navy or this sort of colour.
[58] Always knitted in oil.
[59] So that it er [...] er push off the water, kept the water at bay.
[60] But that was er what was n knitted by the ladies and you can see, if you look at the patterns, what they did, once they'd learnt their basic skills, were to copy the things they could see.
[61] So what you see there, that Arran, if you all, [...] actually a net, the knitting [...] , so their husbands were fishermen and that's a net.
[62] And the cables that you see running down the sides, they're the ropes.
[63] So they copied the things that the men could, they could see themselves and may be using.
[64] One of the gruesome factors about this particular stitch in the Arran is that every family had its own pattern and the reason for that was often the menfolk were lost at sea and the only way they could identify them was through the pattern.
[65] Gruesome but true fact of life.
[66] So there's the Arran, er still up into Scotland, still on these Highlands [...] Scotland we have the Fair Isle.
[67] That's [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [68] two or three years ago.
[69] I'll always keep it because it shows the original sort of colours that Fair Isles were made in.
[70] These are earthy colours.
[71] Very nice, subtle.
[72] Very fashionable about a year and a half ago again, because all these things come round again don't they?
[73] Arrans and the Fair Isles, all come back.
[74] Although a traditional pattern they do come back.
[75] In fact I did one for, for erm one on for two years I think to ab about the same as that, just in pretty colours, but it went on and on.
[76] Cos it's fashionable at the time.
[77] Now er the things that [...] of course was er was only different skill using colours and patterns but y y you understand that the Fair Isles were developed on pins, and you notice the patterns were always small and I think you know the practical reasons for that.
[78] Because you can't have a long float on the back.
[79] Impractical for a man cos he push his fingers through the [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [80] So that's why the patterns were always small.
[81] Interesting little [...] about the garment.
[82] And [...] traditional patterns ... from the Ganzies or the Guernseys.
[83] Now that's a modern version, again I made that for a couple of years ago but the tradition there was you knitted on hands and you ladies will probably know, four pins, no seams, all on the circular, right up to the neck and then the cast on the sleeve there and again, no seams.
[84] Circular and that was cast on so there was no rough seams to work on, and the same with the collar.
[85] So you could wear them under the heavy o oil skin or whatever else they wore on top, and it looked a very comfortable garment, apart from the waterproof.
[86] And again you see the patterns are traditional baskets, er [...] , ladders.
[87] Anything to do with the, the ladies could see and translate.
[88] Right?
[89] So just one more of the traditional ones and the historical ones.
[90] There's a Fair Isle but that's a Norwegian because this was happening in Norway, Iceland, everything that, in the cold climes where they've got a nice woollen spun yarn.
[91] That's a Fair Isle again, but can you see the Icelandic coast which they're very famous for.
[92] You've probably seen some of these that are brushed, they get a very heavy brushing on them make almost into coats.
[93] They look like goats [...] and they're beautifully made garments and very warm.
[94] That's the Icelandic [...] so there's some of the historical things that ladies had learned to do with their hands knitted on pins of various er calibres or d degrees, gauges as I call them.
[95] Broomsticks through to little, little pins.
[96] Er and they developed these skills, as I said earlier, basically for their husbands for use in inclement weather and gradually as they obviously got to m make more and more they got these to trade.
[97] So they traded them just as we traded with the wool and we're talking twelfth century thirteenth century, fourteenth century.
[98] And guilds were formed so that they could trade these garments around the country and eventually around Europe.
[99] We became very famous for exporting wool er woollen clothes and knitwear.
[100] By this time gloves were being made, hands were er hats were being made, scarves were getting made, all on hand knit.
[101] No, you know [...] happens doesn't it?
[102] It gets hard work and er someone comes along and says well can we do it a bit quicker?
[103] First machine comes along and a man of the cloth, as some ladies here know, from Nottingham, the Reverend William Lindel designed a knitting machine, the first machine.
[104] Fourteen eighty five.
[105] A and this first machine, sorry fifteen eighty five not fourteen eighty, fifteen eighty five, fifteen eighty five erm and the reason it was important I mean it's well before the industrial revolution, two hundred years before the industrial revolution so he was really a man well ahead of his time.
[106] Did it for his wife actually because she was fed up of knitting stockings.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [laugh]
Lewis (PS29N) [107] Because what I'm talking about now, the knitting product then was hose.
[108] If you think of the Elizabethan era, even the men wore hose didn't they?
[109] Can you imagine the ruffs here and there was the poofy trousers and the, and the tights.
[110] Now this, this was very popular and, and very much in fashion.
[111] Very difficult to knit [...] .
[112] So this gentleman designed a machine and I've got a picture of the machine here, which you can see.
[113] Nottinghamshire carpenter.
[114] Yeah,s so it's a Nottingham a Nottinghamshire invention by the Reverend William Lee.
[115] That's one of the original frames, it was [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [cough]
Lewis (PS29N) [116] fourteen, fifteen eighty five mind.
[117] This is taken a [laugh] a few years later.
[118] But that's one of the original types of machine that he actually used.
[119] It's still working today, or one of them's still working today.
[120] Looks like a hand loom really doesn't it?
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [121] It, but er the difference this is that we've got a piece of fabric coming of there with a weight holding it down.
[122] And the knitting elements are along there.
[123] Now I won't go into the technicalities of, of the knitting element but it [...] it's, to say this, that, that needle, four hundred years ago, is still being used today.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [124] So is the innovation I mean there are other knitting needles but there is still this type of what we call burns needles being used today.
[125] And, and er basically it shows just how, how far ahead he was.
[126] And the other thing of course was that one movement, which took about one second, right and you wouldn't have a loom [...] , one movement of this machine where the needles go up, take the yarn, knitted a hundred stitches, two hundred stitches,what whatever number of stitches were on that particular piece of fabric, the width.
[127] As you know when you go across on stitch [...] , so one second would increase er by a hundredfold.
[128] So productivity increased tremendously, and therefore it was going to be a success.
[129] Having said that, in order to get into production, or even to use it, you can't just set up in those days any more than you can today, now you need planning permission to [...] , you need [...] .
[130] So he had to go to Queen Elizabeth, the court, to ask for a charter.
[131] Ask for a charter to use the machine.
[132] And she flatly refused.
[133] Because it wouldn't knit silk.
[134] Now silk was the product of the day for the, for the royal household you see.
[135] It wouldn't knit silk, she wasn't going to have it.
[136] Now that was her excuse but there is some evidence to say that she'd got a big investment in weaving machine and I think she was a little bit worried er that these might take over from.
[137] So you see the commercial aspects were still in there in those days as they are today.
[138] Anyway, Reverend William Lee, his son and his brother, went over to France to see if Henry, King Henry of France could help him er but before he could get through to the court there King Henry died and then [...] William Lee died without seeing his machine come to any sort of commercial fruition.
[139] But his son and his brother came back to this country, early in the seventeenth century, about sixteen five sixteen six.
[140] By sixteen ten there were three thousand of his machines all around the country.
[141] So that's how quickly they caught on.
[142] Hinckley was the first area, for some reason Godalming in Surrey had er er some.
[143] But mainly in the midlands, Hinckley, Leicester, Nottingham.
[144] Hose, stocking hose was being made in mass production and the craft of knitting, obviously, began to lose it's, it's sway.
[145] The traditional areas still maintained fortunately, cos it didn't affect the knitted outer-wear at this stage, so all the areas we talked about in the north of Yorkshire moor and Scotland, fortunately there's more of a skill to maintain there.
[146] but gradually the knitting craft, the guilds and the productition pro production from these cottage crafts began to die down because these machines are, anyway that's the history of it, that's how the first machines came to light.
[147] And for the next two or three hundred years it was very slow progress in terms of technical development although the industrial revolution came along as we all know.
[148] Er and therefore more and more people used machines and went into factories as opposed to being in cottages and we all know about this sort of thing.
[149] But it really didn't affect a lot of the traditional things that we were doing in knitwear.
[150] So the hose was still knitted on these [...] machines.
[151] Bigger machines were developed etcetera.
[152] But the real innovation, the real changes after the Second World War.
[153] Cos up until then all the natural fibres were still being used, wool was being used for outer-wear, cotton was being used for underwear, cotton lisle.
[154] Do you remember the lisle stocking? [...] cotton lisle was [...] stocking, utility stockings, still [...] I mean I
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [155] I was working for the company er, in Leicester, called making cotton lisles for twelve years, fifteen years ago.
[156] And was still making his woolly [...] still are, specialist [...] .
[157] So you know, these traditions die hard but I m but things had to change and they changed really after the Second World War. [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [cough]
Lewis (PS29N) [158] and it's fairly obvious, people had been without, people here that remember the war, my father [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [cough]
Lewis (PS29N) [159] You know, there was seven years of going without, and going without for lots of things, basic things, basic clothing, food and that what whatever.
[160] And yet we were seeing [...] seeing the film from the Americans where the film stars of the day with their twin sets and fully fashion stockings and the [...] pearls and what have you.
[161] So obviously when the war finished there was tremendous demand.
[162] There's demand from the ladies of this [...] and the men to some extent, and mainly the ladies for basic products and the fashion products that would lift the spirits a little bit.
[163] So this had an effect.
[164] It had an effect on the retail sector, the retail areas of the country [...] erm the obvious thing is the chain store.
[165] Someone had to respond to this demand, the small little shop in the village couldn't do it, even the big Co-ops couldn't do it.
[166] Erm the, the stores like John Lewis and Debenhams, yet they were stores, they were general stores weren't they?
[167] Where you get everything so the knitwear or the clothing side [...] more specialized, only had a [...] section.
[168] So the chain stores took up the challenge.
[169] We have to produce dozens, hundreds of dozens, thousand of dozens of this product that the ladies wanted.
[170] And they came to the manufacturers and they said look we, there's no good producing fifty dozen a week on a machine it's not [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [cough]
Lewis (PS29N) [171] Marks and Spencers wouldn't take anyone on as a supplier unless you could produce at least two hundred dozen a week on one site.
[172] Two hundred dozen that was when I first started in the industry in the sort of la early sixties.
[173] Dr so we had to respond to that, and we responded in a number of ways.
[174] The British responded by being the best at one particular product type, made on a particular machine.
[175] Now this looks sort of different from the machine I showed you where they, you know the [...] machine, but in fact it's the direct development of it, it's called the fully-fashioned pro and it's, and this area's famous for fully-fashioned knitwear.
[176] But the fully-fashioned frame knitting machine, the British made the best in the world.
[177] Made them in Leicester, Nottingham, Scotland and then the products that made from them were made in this country, Nottingham, Leicester and Scotland.
[178] Fully-fashioned knitwear, now I think you all know what I mean by that then.
[179] There's a fully, basic classic fully-fashioned look, right?
[180] It's, it's really stocking stitch cos it came from the stocking machine didn't it?
[181] That is a stocking machine that we've turned into an outer-wear machine.
[182] That machine I think has sixteen heads, and we did, did have them up to thirty two heads.
[183] When I say a head, that one unit there is like the man was sitting at making one stocking at a time.
[184] This makes one panel at a time, but there are sixteen so through one twelve minute cycle, in twelve minutes sixteen garments were produced.
[185] Or sixteen parts of garment, and one man would run two of those machines.
[186] He'd be t running one there and turn round and running the other one.
[187] And I mean there's s there was a company, it's still going in Mansfield today, that er it w c making twenty thousand dozens, per week, for Marks and Spencers alone, in the heydays of, only about eight years ago and we [...] down a little bit.
[188] That's what we were good at.
[189] So we were good at the mass produced area for Marks and Spencers making nice wool garments like that.
[190] And the acrylics because the acrylic yarns had to be developed, new yarns had to be developed [...] apart from machinery we had to develop yarns that would meet the demand.
[191] You couldn't produce enough wool, you couldn't produce enough cotton.
[192] Something had to be produced so the acrylics were produced in [...] .
[193] I'll come back, come back to that in a mo but that's a classic fully-fashioned garment.
[194] Erm [...] another one just showing what we call a fashion shoulder instead of a [...] .
[195] But they're different, the thing about the fully-fashioned is that it is shaped.
[196] You see what I mean by shape?
[197] It, there is no waste to that product, it is knitted and when we come to a part where you want it to be narrow, the machine shapes it.
[198] And that's what the old fully-fashioned stocking used to be.
[199] They used to shape and give it a seam down the back.
[200] But that is a shaped garment and therefore it's ideal for expensive fibres.
[201] Lambs wool, cashmere, and that's why [...] Scotland specialize in that area.
[202] Cos they had the, the expensive yarns and they produced them on these machines with very little waste.
[203] So that's what the British [...] manufactured the machines and the product.
[204] What was happening in Europe whilst this was happening cos that's after the war they had their own development and they developed a different type of machine called a flat machine.
[205] Now that looks a very simple sort of thing, it's quite large, a man stands about that high.
[206] So you get about five or six garments in width across there.
[207] [cough] The difference here is that it's a ribbed fabric.
[208] Now I don't know whether any of you see the little hand machines you can now buy?
[209] Japanese versions of this like the Singer.
[210] Well that's the sort of fabric it produces.
[211] [cough] Show you the fabric.
[212] That is a jacquard right?
[213] Marks and Spencers' garment again.
[214] Jackline in the, you have to do something with the comb when it's not showing so you've [...] , what's happened to the white?
[215] The white's gone to the back hasn't it?
[216] And the ribbed fabric on the back.
[217] So it's floated and knitted it on the back.
[218] So [...] takes it up and knits it on the back.
[219] Two things about that.
[220] It means it's got to be heavier cos it's not a single fabric, so it's ideal for heavier chunky knits.
[221] Coarser gauges and of course knitting some of the more specialist yarns like Channel which [...] in particular.
[222] So that's what flat machines do, they knit, these particular [...] Jacquard [...] and, and that's what the continentals were good at, it, cos they look, I mean they were far more, we're so conservative in this country, little better now obviously we do more nowad you know we're talking about just after the war [...] the Italians and the French were into colour, not garish colour, subtle lovely colours.
[223] But these machines could do that.
[224] Our, our machine made a nice classical knitwear, these made the more specialized things like this.
[225] Right?
[226] So that is a Jacquard, and that's an electronic Jacquard, means you can do all sorts of different patterns now, where it used to be limited it's unlimited now.
[227] Any number of colours virtually, any number of patterns.
[228] I mean you get so busy, in fact I think it's probably gone to the extent where it's gone too busy.
[229] It gets so you can recognize one of those straight away.
[230] And they've been trendy the last two or three seasons, they've been back with the classics haven't they?
[231] Especially in recession cos ladies think [...] better to have a nice navy cardigan I can wear with this hat [...] .
[232] One of these I [...] only wear once and everyone's seen [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [laugh]
Lewis (PS29N) [233] But that's what the flat machines do and that's the machine that I invested in, very expensive, very versatile, they also knit, today they will also knit the Arran stitching.
[234] I mean they'll knit this Arran and [...] .
[235] They'll knit that on these machines so they'll stitch transfer, they'll cable, they'll, they'll do base.
[236] That machine is very very versatile.
[237] That's what the continentals were doing and are still doing.
[238] The Japanese are now taking over the manufacture of the machines as you can imagine, and so [cough] that's the end of it for the, the
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [239] Swiss and the Germans in the terms of the market because they just can't compete.
[240] Erm again [...] mean time that the Americans er the Americans [...] much more production, they've been producing all this time anyway cos they've got high productivity, need it for two hundred million people.
[241] So they worked on er what were called circking machines.
[242] I'm afraid it's very, that's not very good ladies but might just get an idea to er the type of machines.
[243] You can see the man standing there so you get an idea of the size of the machine.
[244] There's the man there.
[245] And there's the machine circking machine.
[246] If I stood here the machine would go to that wall and the same that way and then round, in diameter.
[247] So that's the size of the machine.
[248] They were initially developed er from a, a salt machine again like the, the other ones called the Griswald a little hand, salt machine you used to turn like that and make salt.
[249] People realized, the Americans in particular realized that the finer the knit, like for underwear, the longer it takes to get, it doesn't [...] tie your knitting on and [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [250] So the finer it is the more time or expense it is to knit it.
[251] So they developed this circular idea because that machine revolves.
[252] In one revolution, whatever number of cones are on there there's a feeder for, so if there's a hundred feeders in one revolution it knits a hundred courses.
[253] A hundred courses not one, like we do on the fully- fashioned but one hundred courses in one revolution.
[254] And it goes at sixty revolutions to the minute.
[255] And it's going so quick the fabric comes down there so quickly you can't actually see it to examine it, it's coming down.
[256] Now the quality obviously is not as good as either the flat or fully-fashioned and that's why the Americans have a reputation for not [...] but that's the reason, productivity.
[257] If you like to [cough] think that we started discuss discuss this discussion by saying there was a demand after the war, you can see now that we met it in, over and over again cos these machines were all over America.
[258] Not only that, in the Far East where we've got hands by the, the thousand compared to ours, they've got these machines as well.
[259] So not only have they got the cheap labour, they've got the cheap and highly effective machinery.
[260] So in terms of demand er it's beaten it hasn't it?
[261] I mean everyone's got [...] want them, basically.
[262] The only reason now, looking at the way knitwear is going or any products going, the only way now that we can get the latest [...] is if we design er oh er design new ideas that are [...] want something fresh or fashion takes over.
[263] They're the two other areas, so I've talked about machines, er design and fashion is the next major element.
[264] The stores have the effect on the purse to produce that, get them to you [...] and now you, you've got really as much as you want.
[265] The only thing [...] if it's a bargain or if it looks nice or you need something new.
[266] What you need now, not what you would [...] [...] want you want, [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [laugh]
Lewis (PS29N) [267] it's now what you want.
[268] Erm so you're back to this design element now and that's the major factor.
[269] Er fashion and design, well if, from a design point of view erm we all work the same way, no matter who in knitwear, who you work, whether it's Marks and Spencers or whether it's Jack Vere or whether it's John Smedley or erm Finks across the road there.
[270] Whatever [...] very highly er design orientated, all sold in the same place.
[271] Twice a year we all start there, we manufacturers go, the designer, the designers go with the buyers from the stores, with the designers from the fashion houses.
[272] [cough] You go to one place and that place is called Petite Forlarty and that's in Florence.
[273] Not in France, I used to think well the French just [...] starts in Florence and it starts there because the Italians determine the colour.
[274] It all starts with colour.
[275] Not fabrics, not colour.
[276] Petite Forlarty which is a castle in the middle, just on the outskirts of Florence er and e for some reason I mean the c the Italians have been colourists for yonks.
[277] Before we were knitting these, before Reverend William Lee was designing his machine, the Italians were design er pain er tt dyeing silk.
[278] They were the best silk producers in the world.
[279] [cough] They were colourists then and [...] good fabrics in the fourteenth fifteenth century.
[280] So they've kept that tradition so we go there for the colours, and they provide a palette each year, er that's the ninety one ninety two.
[281] That's the ninety three ninety four.
[282] Now there looks like there's a lot of colours there.
[283] Well there is because it's both the mens and ladies palette and basically er that's the wool Ivere Versace International Wool Secretary, working with Petite Forlarty But they determine the colours, in effect every design house then sells its colours from there.
[284] But you find eventually there's perhaps two or three colours that becomes strong through the year.
[285] But it's usually not them that make up [...] just like that, it's you ladies.
[286] Cos at the end of the day you just pick the ones you like from your boat,you you're gradually, the, the colours come through for you through your magazines and what have you, and you pick the ones you like.
[287] But there is that sort of broad choice.
[288] And they are very good spinners as well, and I buy a lot of Italian yarns and people say to me why?
[289] I mean the British manufacture them, why, why do you buy Italian yarns?
[290] Well for a number of reasons, that's one of them that's one spinner and one yarn, and he offers me all of those colours, ex stock, in sort of ten days delivery and er one carton at a time, if I wanted.
[291] Now as a small design house with a small manufacturer that's ideal for me, I couldn't work any other way.
[292] Comparing it with my friends who I've worked with for years, who are [...] most expensive sort of [...] fair enough.
[293] Known him for years, worked with him for years.
[294] That's the colour palette which is very limited
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [295] Mm.
Lewis (PS29N) [296] you see.
[297] That's two or three different yarns, because it's the same colour palette.
[298] And I've got to have three hundred kilos.
[299] Because they're geared to Marks and Spencers, now there's the advert for them they work with, with mass production, that's where it goes wrong [...] because we've lost our individuality and so I [...] go to the Italians in order to get the sort of yarns they offer me, now they're the sort of yarns they offer me.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [300] Look at that.
Lewis (PS29N) [301] Beautiful.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [302] [...] been a shipment.
[303] And they're all [...] ex stock and the update I [...] every season, and I mean every season, that's three seasons a year.
[304] They also provide us with, and my designers love this I mean they g go over there and they come back and they plaster these things all over, all over their design rooms and it looks like a Paris design house.
[305] But they, they give them ideas.
[306] These are the, these are the fibre producers, yarn producers they give the young designers ideas of how to put these fabrics together.
[307] A lot of them are not practical but it, you know it gives them creative ideas.
[308] But it's important that they get abroad and see these because they also imbibe a lot of feeling from just walking around these places and seeing what the ladies are wearing [...] so it's very important for them to go to those places [...] .
[309] So that's the designer element and we get together with the people like M and S, whoever it is and meet there and decide the colours and we're going to do that, that and that and you come back and your team works together to produce certain ideas for a range.
[310] But that's where it all starts from.
[311] So that's the design element, the other element, of courses, is, is fashion.
[312] [cough] Now your fashion is a thing you can't put your finger on really isn't it?
[313] But I mean in terms of knitwear over the last few years I can give you one or two examples which I think you'll readily er understand.
[314] Er for instance erm films used to affect the design and fashion a lot in [...] .
[315] Not so much now because it's mainly the youngsters that go there.
[316] T what is it today?
[317] It's television isn't it?
[318] And the big, one of the big things that affected us in the last few years was er Dallas.
[319] And why?
[320] Because of the padded shoulders.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [321] And we [...] been millions of padded shoulders into knitwear.
[322] In some ways, okay it's been overdone now, but in some ways some garments would look super [...] .
[323] And let's face it knitwear is an unstructured fabric so it needs something to hold it together.
[324] And er small pads [...] I mean that's a, that's a pad you can take [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [325] Yes.
Lewis (PS29N) [326] Right.
[327] So I mean you [...] mid winter wool but you can see without, it would not have the structure would it?
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [328] No.
Lewis (PS29N) [329] Now as a matter of interest ladies, I sell that at twen twenty nine pounds, [...] seventy nine ninety nine.
[330] That gives you an idea of the mark-up that the retailers put on the garment, which I don't blame them for, they've got their problems, I've got mine.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [laugh]
Lewis (PS29N) [331] [...] .
[332] So that's padded shoulders [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [333] the important thing in the last two years, everything has to be in, as I say it's not true to say everything but quite a lot of things have been in, so both those are, are the [...] .
[334] Right, Marks and Spencers both of those.
[335] So even M and S has got into the fashions market.
[336] Er but these er the [yawn] quite fashionable, all long-line.
[337] And it's still going on for another season.
[338] No the, we're moving about a bit now, there'll be an element of long-line but there is er I know a lot of ladies will be relieved to know, there is a shorter length coming back in.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [339] [shouting] You'll find, you'll find a whole [...] of [] shorter lengths [...] having, having been, having been to Nottingham [...] .
[340] So then anyway, I've got one other little story about er fashion before I finish, before I conclude this [...] .
[341] Er if there are any questions afterwards I'll be pleased to try and answer them.
[342] Erm I w we suggest that while you're having your coffee and refreshments if you can push some of the chairs back get those rails out into the middle there and you can have a look.
[343] Please feel free to try anything on, no obligations.
[344] As you know erm we, we take the money here we don't charge you for the talk but we give ten percent back to your W I so it's a self funding [...] situation.
[345] So er keep that in mind when you're looking and buying.
[346] Erm, now the other little story in fashion of course is the, is er Princess Diana.
[347] Now of course she's had a tremendous effect on, on fashion knitwear ever since she's been involved with [...] before.
[348] But our knitwear in particular, erm she effected us by the little jumper she wore er with Charlie before she got engaged.
[349] You remember?
[350] The little sheep.
[351] Do you remember that?
[352] Red with white sheep on?
[353] Hand knitted.
[354] See?
[355] So we're back full circle, hand knitted.
[356] Caused a tremendous demand for hand knitted products, now she payed three hundred and something pounds for that.
[357] I'm not saying it was worth that but she payed [...] .
[358] Hundred percent nice wool, hand knitted for her specially.
[359] But it created a demand, and we manufacturers, well come on lads, can't you make these?
[360] We want to sell these at under fifty pounds.
[361] Which means you've got to make it for about twelve or fourteen.
[362] But you know we rose to the challenge and now there's almost anything we can do er on the machines that I bought.
[363] So here are just two examples, two or three here that I did, [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [cough]
Lewis (PS29N) [364] will see that we did [...] .
[365] Now you know in the old days, how I mean [...]
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...] [laugh] [...]
Lewis (PS29N) [366] [shouting] [...] the knitting machine has done [] what we did by hand, well under fifty pound, I think that one sold at twenty nine and that's [...] five.
[367] So I mean in the shop [...] I, I did sell for the National Trust once but I s I sold them the [...] .
[368] You know the [...] ?
[369] Er no not, not National Trust, R S P B that was it, [...] .
[370] National Trust [...] ... [shouting] So in conclusion [] in conclusion ladies I think we've met the challenge of the industrialist in terms of making and from you the demand.
[371] Where do we go from there?
[372] We can only by hope but er you know, with creating new ideas, keeping the quality good, so you know you feel right with prices [...] your pocket and er therefore we will survive.
[373] And I hope you found the talk informative, interesting.
Unknown speaker (GYNPSUNK) [...] [clapping]