G. H. Hurt & Son have enjoyed a strong relationship with our local University – Nottingham Trent University, for over 25 years. Each year, we provide a year long placement to a knitwear design student at our Knitwear Factory, which is a valuable work experience during their education. It works both ways, as they bring fresh thinking and ideas to the company and help produce new and exciting designs with us.
Our most recent student - Jacaranda - very quickly became an asset to the company. She arrived with an interest in Handframe Knitting and unusually, the ability to work the Handframes, So, it was only natural to give her the chance to create a product on one of our original Handframe Knitting Machines.
Before her return to University, we wanted Jacaranda to give insight into the product she had created, the ‘Jacaranda Handframe Scarf’.
In a subconscious act of coordination, Jacaranda was working on her diamond scarf design whilst wearing a diamond printed cardigan. One could say she was embodying her work and channelling her ideas and thoughts from one piece of fabric to another.
Amidst the clunking of machinery and each strategic stage of knitting, passing silences were filled with focus and concentration. Something that certainly hasn’t changed as the years have gone on, since 1912, when G. H. Hurt & Son first started with Handframe knitters. In a modern environment full of warmth, lighting and space, it’s interesting to think how the lifestyle circumstances would have been different. It was during 1589 that the first ever handframe knitting machinery was invented, by Rev. William Lee. Technology and machinery is quick to become obsolete, so being able to maintain it as best we can and use one still to this date, is something we are very proud of.
It takes a great amount of skill to use the handframe machinery, a talent that not many people are likely to acquire given the modern way of knitting. It was a privilege to have the needles in motion again and Jacaranda producing a product with an added personal touch of authenticity. After her demonstration on our Handframe at G. H. Hurt & Son’s Heritage Open Day, we complied some commonly asked questions about her experiences using the machinery and about the product she created. So, we ditched the candle lighting, poured a nice cup of tea and were set to be inspired by her hard work:
Jacaranda - Placement student from Nottingham Trent University.
“I’m Jacaranda, a student studying BA Fashion Knitwear Design and Knitted Textiles at Nottingham Trent University. I also did other placements in New York and London, before working at G. H. Hurt & Son, in Nottingham. But it’s not the first time I’ve been with G. H. Hurt & Son.
In the first year of my degree, we went on a trip to the Ruddington Framework Knitting Museum, near Nottingham. At the end, we were asked if anyone wanted to learn to frame knit and possibly volunteer at the museum – that’s if we picked it up well. My friend and myself tried it. So, I learned how to knit on the handframe. That’s when I got in touch with G. H. Hurt & Son . I worked with them for the summer when Princess Charlotte was born. Everything was very busy with the Royal Baby Shawl. From that, I then started knitting on their handframe machines.
As an artistic skill, I like the concept of the heritage and the idea of sustainability by using the handframe to knit. It’s really important to keep the history of knitting alive. Also, being able to recreate something on a machine that’s over 100 years old is pretty special.
The new machinery doesn’t have the same story and history as the original Handframes, but it is a lot quicker and more sustainable. With the Handframes, they don’t make the needles or parts anymore, so if there is any problem you have to physically make a replacement. Even though they helped get to where we are now in terms of modern machinery, the industry doesn’t really need them anymore – which is a shame.
I wanted to create a design that was traditional and similar to what hand frame knitters used to do. Also, I wanted to draw inspiration from Sherwood Forest, to tie in with Nottingham and the concept of Heritage.
I want people to remember that the Handframes still exist and remember their importance, the history and heritage. It’s obviously not a big production line and there isn’t any possibility to create over 100 a day, but it’s a nice skill to acquire and it’s great to be able to leave G. H. Hurt & Son with something after I go back to University.”
The Jacaranda Handframe Scarf. Available in Bilberry, Moss Green and Ecru.