A stitch in time: Victorian knitting guides available online

From complex and intricate fancy work to the very practical garments for sailors, many types of knitting are included in this unique collection of Victorian knitting manuals from the Knitting Reference Library located at Winchester School of Art Library, University of Southampton.

Mlle Riego's Knitting Book, Winchester School of Art Library

Mlle Riego's Knitting Book, Winchester School of Art Library

The books were donated by scholar and former bishop Richard Rutt, often referred to as the ‘knitting bishop’ and widely known for his classic book ‘A history of hand knitting’ published by Batsford in 1987. Richard Rutt’s personal library of books, journals, magazines, patterns and his research notes on knitting were donated by him to the University. His intention being that his library joined the Montse Stanley Knitting Collection in recognition of their shared passion and knowledge of knitting developed through their long standing friendship.

A particular distinction and strength of Richard Rutt’s collection is the range and number of nineteenth century knitting books first published in the 1830s. These Victorian knitting manuals may be considered as the precursors to the contemporary knitting pattern and the ‘how-to-knit’ books that are still being published over 180 years later. This collection has now been digitised and each book has been copied from cover to cover by the University of Southampton’s Digitisation Unit and are available online via the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS).

The knitting manuals have been made available on VADS as part of the JISC-funded Look-Here! project which was a collaboration between ten partners across the arts education sector. The project sought to develop skills and strategies for digitisation within libraries, museums, and archives in the arts education community.

One of the outputs of the project was a series of case studies by project partners focusing on various different aspects of digitisation in the creative arts. This includes a case study on the Knitting Collections at Winchester School of Art Library by Linda Newington, which can be found on the project website at: http://www.vads.ac.uk/lookhere/casestudies

28. September 2011 by jane furness
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