Recognising the co-dependence of machine and hand in the Scottish knitwear industry

Abrams, L. and Gardner, L. (2021) Recognising the co-dependence of machine and hand in the Scottish knitwear industry. Textile History, 52(1-2), pp. 165-189. (doi: 10.1080/00404969.2021.2014768)

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Knowledge of the economy and culture of knitted textiles in Scotland since the late eighteenth century is framed by opposing paradigms. The study of craft regards knitting as a traditional practice and focuses on the techniques and designs of the hand knitter. The industrial paradigm, on the other hand, is dominated by studies of factory production that subordinate hand knitting as an outmoded and non-economic practice superseded by mechanisation. This article analyses the production of knitwear in post-war Shetland to demonstrate how the bipolarity of that frame needs to be modified to highlight the manifest interconnectedness and mutual dependence of the two parts of the sector. It also challenges interpretations which assume craft production is automatically superseded by machine production. Knitting has maintained a dual identity as a hand craft and an industrial process since the mid-nineteenth century and thus provides a case study for bridging these disconnected histories.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The research for this article was funded by award AH/SO11528/1: ‘Fleece to Fashion: Economies and Cultures of Knitting in Scotland’.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gardner, Dr Lin and Abrams, Professor Lynn
Authors: Abrams, L., and Gardner, L.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:Textile History
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1743-2952
Published Online:15 March 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in Textile History 52(1-2): 165-189
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
303148Fleece to Fashion: Economies and Cultures of Craft in Scotland - Knitted Textiles c.1780-presentLynn AbramsArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/S011528/1Arts - History