Celebrating The Craftsmanship Behind Dorothy Jumpers

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 year ago | Features

Image: the Rewarewa Lightweight Knit by Dorothy.

Handmade clothing is far from the norm in today’s society. Which is in no small part due to recent technological advancements, which have made it a lot faster (and cheaper) to rely on machines throughout the supply chain. Of course, human beings are still necessary for making most clothing items, but as robots begin to make our T-shirts and garment workers find themselves up against tighter turnaround times than ever before, the simple fact is that craftsmanship is quickly fading. And it is for this reason that we need to protect the crafts that do still exist today. Crafts like knitting, for example.

Dating back to the 11th century in Egypt, knitting derives from the word ‘knot’ and it is used to describe the process of producing fabric from a strand of yarn or wool. Because it doesn’t require a loom or other such cumbersome equipment, though, knitting has traditionally been a very approachable craft and one that has been much celebrated amongst nomadic societies. Today, however, it is considered one of those rare luxuries within the contemporary clothing industry.

A simple reason for this is that hand-knitted garments are now quite difficult to come across. But the craft itself has changed very little over the course of several centuries – which is a feat in and of itself. Many early knitting needles were constructed from wood, for instance – and it is still possible to buy wooden needles to this day. Early knitted garments were also made from natural fibres like cotton, silk or wool, much like today’s cosy knitted jumpers.

Take New Zealand label Dorothy, for example. Handmade by mother-daughter duo Anne and Lucy Aitchison, Dorothy jumpers are all one of a kind and use pure New Zealand wool or mohair. Incorporating unique colours and textures, these jumpers sum up all that is wonderful about owning a handmade garment. Sadly, though, crafts like knitting just don’t hold the same prevalent role in society today as they once did.

In England during the 1500s, for instance, The Cappers Act stated that, on Sundays and public holidays, every person above the age of six must wear "a Cap of Wool knit, thicked and dressed in England, made within this Realm, and only dressed and finished by some of the Trade of Cappers, upon pain to forfeit for every Day of not wearing three Shillings four Pence". It sounds bizarre now, but according to the V&A Museum, this act was designed to help sustain the production of caps in England and thereby protect the livelihoods of their makers.

If only we had these sorts of protections in place for traditional craftspeople today. Sadly, though, we just don’t have the same widespread respect for crafts like knitting anymore. Primarily because the fast fashion system has reduced the value that most people place on clothing in the first place. So gone are the days of the 14th century knitting guilds – where it took three years of training just to gain membership. And gone, too, are the days when our closets would be filled with knitted garments, courtesy of our grandmas.

Fortunately, though, there are still some dedicated craftspeople out there devoted to the art of knitting. And it is women like Anne and Lucy of Dorothy who help to keep the tradition of knitting – and its storied global history – alive today. Which is why we are so passionate about celebrating the hard work and beautiful craftsmanship that goes into each and every one of their jumpers. So if you’re looking for some cosy winter woollies, look no further than a hand-knitted jumper by Dorothy.

You can shop all of our well-made jumpers over here

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