When visiting the Scottish Borders to buy an old knitting machine for my studio, I met David a Hand Intarsia knitter who had worked for a renowned Knitwear Manufacturer until the 1990s when factories in the Borders started closing down and manufacturing moved to China.
I was so saddened and frustrated that so many highly skilled knitters were no longer working in the Textile Industry due to the demand of fast fashion. What started off as a project working together to fuse heritage skills and contemporary design, became the focal point of why I started the label, Genevieve Sweeney.
I fell in love with this technique with its precision lines and the definition it gives to the softest of cashmere when colour blocking. Time-consuming yes (the Munro takes 14 hours to knit), but an art form in itself. A timeless statement piece that will stand the test of time.
What is Hand Intarsia? Hand Intarsia is a traditional knitting technique; the term meaning ‘inlaid by hand’. The yarn is laid onto the needle bed of the machine, colour by colour to create a clean, refined pattern without carrying floats on the back of the design. This technique has a rich heritage found in the Scottish Borders, incredibly time-consuming processes in which the detail and precision can only be achieved by hand.
Sometimes I am asked how I choose the names of my designs, normally they are named from the nearby villages or rivers to where they are knitted. For the intarsias, I named them in a more special way; The Munro is named after David’s Dad, a fantastic character full of life who was also a knitter in the Borders. The Davin is named after David’s Mum Davina who also worked in the factories as a linker.