Janie Knitted Textiles

England

About Jane Withers & Michael Hanmer

Since graduating in 1995 from Nottingham Trent University with a First Class Hons degree in Knitwear Design, Jane worked in design studios for knitted textile companies and in 2000 she started a textile practice at home and developed a range of contemporary knitted fabrics using domestic knitting machines. In 2003 she established Janie knitted textiles and became a Ltd company in 2005. In the early stages of the business Jane continued to keep links with local knitwear companies and designed/produced fashion accessories for commercial clients.

Over the last 9 years she has concentrated on making knitted fabrics and products in a studio at the Harley Foundation in Nottinghamshire, joining in 2011. Jane works with her partner Michael Hanmer and they produce all their own fabrics and products for interiors and fashion accessories. With an emphasis on sustainability, wool has become their core material for most products; they are always looking for new ways to use it in their product range.

They prefer to use natural fibres such as merino wool, linen and cotton sourced from British suppliers. Their creativity is a direct response to environmental colours, textures and the materials they use together with influences and references from Jane’s creative family.

They exhibit at retail shows and trade exhibitions in the UK which gives them a platform to show new designs together with open days and workshops in the studio bringing them into contact with the public, helping to promote their textile practice and unique products.

Making for the Challenge

We have developed a wide range of knitted fabrics during our practice at the Harley Foundation and continue to experiment with knitted structures and colour combinations.

In 2014 we developed a small range of lighting using knitted tubular fabric which is woven onto a metal lampshade frame. We started with the form or shape for a lampshade frame and initially experimented with ready-made frames. From this experimentation we created 4 different shapes which we collaborated with a fellow Harley Foundation artist to construct metal frames for us. We have now developed our own frame construction.

All our knit fabrics are wet-finished, therefore we needed to achieve the right amount of stretch and firmness to weave. The fabric is 5 stitches knitted on a domestic knitting machine which we have adapted with 3 heads to increase production.

We measured the amount of fabric to knit and estimated the shrinkage on the fabric which is usually about 15%.

Weaving the fabric onto the frame required a consistent tension and a method to use small balls of fabric and join with wool as required, we tried different forms of winding around the frame and used a repeat pattern to achieve a balanced effect to let enough light through the weave and cover joins etc.

As an added interest to the lampshade we have used a cold dye to give an ombre effect. The completed light is partly immersed in the shallow dye bath for 30 minutes which wicks up the dye to give a graduated effect.

Wool is ideal for lighting as it is naturally fire retardant and in the washing we have added a moth proofing too.