In November, we reported on the launch of an exciting project between Yorkshire-based spinning mill, Laxtons, and final year students at Nottingham Trent University from the BA (Hons) Fashion Knitwear Design & Knitted Textiles course. The students from NTU responded to a brief where they were asked to reflect on Laxtons’ rich heritage and progression within the changeable British textiles industry, whilst celebrating the natural qualities of British wool, creating their own individual response in the form of a design and swatching project. Using Laxtons first stock-supported machine knitting yarn, Sheepsoft, a fully-traceable blend of British Bluefaced Leicester and Masham wools, the students submitted fabric swatches and product-suggestions including mini garments.
Chloe Thurlow was inspired by David Hockney’s Yorkshire, where she used a mix of the natural shades and dyed colours from the AW18 Sheepsoft collection. Chloe took the brief which included suggested inspirations such as LS Lowry’s industrial artworks and Peter Brook’s paintings of the Yorkshire landscape, and took her own spin on reflecting on David Hockney’s rich history and connection with Yorkshire and it’s true natural and human landscape, creating fashion suggestions in the form of mini-garments in tonal, graphic intarsias. Laxtons Sales Director, Alan Thornber and knitwear consultant and NTU alumnus, Charlotte Cameron who were judging the project were impressed by the unique and coherent project that Chloe submitted. Chloe’s consideration and sensitive yet creative use of the yarn and colour palette was evident in the design work that she submitted, with the mini-garments she had knitted clearly relevant to the intended market for the Sheepsoft yarn. As a result, Chloe was named winner of the project, and awarded full yarn sponsorship from Laxtons to support her final year collection that is due to show at the graduate shows in May this year.
Self-confessed British wool advocate, Isabel Brown was named runner-up and awarded part yarn sponsorship for her final year collection. Laxtons were impressed by Isabel’s inherent and truly-genuine passion for British wool as a fibre and the industry. Isabel submitted swatches and mini garment panels using a mix of natural shades, and greens, blues and pinks from the AW18 palette, using multimedia surface techniques such as hand-embroidery and surface brushing, truly utilising the capabilities of the unique Sheepsoft yarn.
Interiors-focused Jessica Turner was given a recognised commendation for her fresh use of the AW18 Sheepsoft palette and considered use of stitch and fabric suitable for interiors product.
As part of the awards, the participating students were invited to Laxtons newly-built state-of-the-art spinning mill which they moved into last year. The students were given a tour of the mill, and shown the full spinning process from processing tops, through twisting and winding, testing and processing.
By facilitating collaborative projects, manufactures such as Laxtons are connecting students, the next generation of designers, with the real processes and materials of which they could, and likely would be working with in the future. We are in a modern-day environment where as designers and buyers, we must work to ‘lift the cloak’, to educate ourselves and bridge the gaps between designing product and the people, materials and processes that turn those designs into reality. It is only by doing this that designers and creatives can fully understand the holistic nature of the product that they are working on, and thus, designing product that is successful in aesthetic, performance, purpose and nurturing sustainable product, processes and relationships for the future.
Photo credit: Charlotte Cameron