KCG2204 – Classic Knits of the 80s

Prof. Sandy Black looks at the wave of British knitwear designers that emerged in the late 1970s and 1980s. (1h 2m)

This talk, presented at Convention 2022, looks at the new wave of British knitwear designers that emerged in the late 1970s and 1980s, that was named a ‘Knitwear Revolution’ by fashion writer Suzy Menkes in her 1983 book of the same name. These designers took a fresh and colourful approach to knitwear, each working with a craft-based style that was distinctive.

The talk particularly presents Sandy’s own work of the period, under her label Sandy Black Original Knits, working in both exclusive ready-to-wear knitwear – selling in outlets such as Saks 5th Avenue in New York, Browns in London and Isetan in Tokyo – and in hand knitting kits for the home knitter, selling across the UK (e.g. in Liberty, John Lewis), and in the USA, Europe and Australia.

Sandy has always worked with both hand and machine knitting, as appropriate.

Now 20 hand knitting patterns from the 1980s are recently published in Classic Knits of the 80s (Crowood Press 2021), many for the first time. The designs are themed into five groups: Textural, Graphic, Floral, Heraldic, Ornamental and Fun Accessories.

The talk also includes a look at Sandy’s inspirations and her knitwear design development process.

About the presenter

Sandy is a designer, author and educator, and started her career studying maths. Having been taught to knit and crochet as a child, she rediscovered knitting (by hand and machine) whilst at university and became fascinated by the creative possibilities that knitting offered.

She built up a business designing one-off pieces for special projects and clients, then selling her unique designs (including landscape sweaters and luxurious evening coats) to prestigious fashion stores worldwide. She developed the Sandy Black range of colourful knitting yarns and pattern kits, selling internationally.

After over 15 years in business, Sandy began lecturing, running undergraduate courses at University of Brighton, then postgraduate courses at London College of Fashion LCF. She has published key books on knitwear and knitting history, and also on sustainable fashion. Sandy is professor in LCF’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion, developing research projects and supervising PhD students.

Sandy is also Chair of the UK Knitting History Forum.

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