13 Apr 2011
knitwear by Nikki Gabriel
Yarn bombing, designer jumpers and the "retro-cool" of traditional crafts have all helped to boost knitting's image lately. But more change is in the wind, say knitting experts gathered in Auckland this week to talk about knitting as a topic of serious research and high fashion interest.
Among the academics, researchers and designers is keynote speaker Professor Sandy Black, a mathematician turned fashion designer from London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London
, and New Zealand's newest knitwear darling, Nikki Gabriel who will also present at the symposium.
"3D knitwear is the next big thing we will see," says Professor Black. "Knitwear technology allows us to grab concepts from science and mathematics and apply them to crafts like knitting that have traditionally been super low-tech."
Gabriel is looking forward to explaining her "construction knitting" technique at the symposium - it allows even the newest knitter to make a garment by knitting and joining blocks. Her construction patterns, which are sold in design stores worldwide and from her website
, have had a huge uptake so far.
The construction knitting technique is a world away from the complicated and experimental way Gabriel's own collections are made, which confirms that innovation is happening at every level of knitting.
She has designed for the likes of Akira Isogawa and the Australian Ballet and now lives and works in Napier. Her extraordinary artisan garments have made this designer somewhat of a cause célèbre in Kiwi fashion circles since she arrived a year ago. Each piece is made with local yarn, hand-knitted by a team of talented Napier knitters and finished off with experimentation on the knitting machines at AUT's Textile and Design Laboratory (TDL)
. And yes, all that effort shows up on the price tags, which range from $400-$1000 apiece.
"In Australia, the sort of high-tech equipment I use at the TDL is only accessible to commercial mills and students, not to designers like me who want to create small runs of experimental work. I feel very lucky to have the chance to test my ideas on this machinery, which offers possibilities that even manufacturers can't imagine until we do it."
"Our global community is getting smaller, and symposiums like this one are vital if we are to access one another's ideas and keep on pushing the boundaries of what is possible with knitting, technology and experimentation," says Gabriel.
What: Get Knitted, One Day Symposium
When: Friday 15th April 2011, 8.45 am - 4.30 pm
Where: AUT Conference Centre WA Building, Wellesley Street, Auckland City Campus