…Because at FIT it never rains men, so we will substitute some lyrics. But really… This week, we arrived to class for what most would expect to be a typical day in the FIT knitting lab (which I should have previously mentioned are deep in the basement of the school, where sunlight and time escapes us as we knit away!) But, our day was not so typical. We were greeted by our first order of yarn which was generously donated to us by Lion Brand. It was AMAZING. I wish all of this was for me!
Cashmere, Angora, Alpaca, Silk, Mohair, Wool. Fuzzy yarns, smooth yarns, colorful yarns, textured yarns, and every type of yarn you could ever imagine! We are so lucky to have such generous donors because prices add up so quickly when creating a collection! Not only do we purchase yarn, but we’ve bought fabric to make our prototypes, and some of us will use trims such as zippers, beads, leather, etc.
On the other hand, we’ve been hard at work knitting away our swatches, in hopes that we will one day knit the perfect swatch so that we can move on and begin to actually make our garments!
We knit with a number of different methods. The fastest way is by the computerized Stoll machines. We spend hours on the computer using a program called m1plus, designing our garments and telling the computer how big and even what shape to knit the pieces. Then, almost like a big sweater printer, we send the programs to the machines and there it goes! FIT is blessed to have three of these fabulous machines, all in different gauges. (Gauge is the number of stitches per inch that the machine can knit. We can knit from chunky to fine with all of these machines!)
The second way that we knit is on the Dubied machines. They are a sort of industrial hand operated knitting machine. They have different settings and needles which with endless combinations can make some quite interesting stitches.
We also use Brother knitting machines. They are more like a home version of the industrial machines. These machines haven’t been manufactured in many years and tend to be very sensitive, but produce amazing fabrics…and some lucky students (a.k.a. me) have their own knitting machines crammed into the living rooms of their NYC apartments, and can knit anytime they please!
Last but certainly not least, definitely my favorite, is by hand. Hand knitting is not a requirement for knitwear students at FIT, and in fact there are actually a few of us who don’t know how to hand knit. It is so calming after a stressful day in the knitting lab. It’s quite nice – I get to relax while doing my homework! What a way to multi task <3
Next class we will have our first model fitting with our prototypes of our garments. Our industry critic (Who happens to be the amazingly talented senior knitwear designer at 3.1 Phillip Lim) will come in and see our silhouettes, and the fits of our garments. We’ve cut and sewn old knit fabrics together to make sure that once we knit our pieces, they will actually fit properly on our models! Although in the industry, prototypes would be knit by factories out of proper yarns, we don’t have the time or luxury of doing this, so cut and sew will work for now!