here were almost no limits set for me as a designer.”
A brave statement to start off with. If you want to know what that meant for Thorsten Martens when working with KNITWEAR LAB and what challenges they faced producing Merino wool knitted garments for the summer season, keep reading!
Design | Function | Inspiration
The goal for us was to come up with innovative and relevant knitting techniques, based on the designer’s inspiration and Südwolle Group yarn. Therefore, we were aiming to enhance the design with our technical knitwear expertise.
The designs have a high creative, technological and forward-looking design claim. In the dark times that are upon us right now, the hope for a peaceful and, above all, sustainable future must remain. Therefore, it was clear to me that the designs should have powerful colors in contrasting tones.
In the back of my mind floated the thought of dopamine. The transmitter that triggers feelings of happiness in the human body and gives you the power to enjoy life to the fullest. So my thoughts quickly turned to sweets, which in a way could be described as eatable dopamine which are treating yourself to the best. Lollipops and candy canes, as well as the bright colors are main inspiration for this collection. The silhouettes of the dresses are inspired by the shapes of lollipops and their bright colors and patterns. For example, the sleeves on the dress could also be the head of a lollipop.
Developement | Yarn selection
We implemented as many technical knitting solutions as possible into the garment, which proved to be a difficulty due to the designs variety of textures. However, this combination of knitting techniques also became a special feature of the final product.
We used multi-stepping to create volume for the balloon sleeves, the plating technique for most parts of the garment, and the STOLL-weave-in® knitting technique to imitate a woven effect.
It was a curious challenge to create a summer design with use of Biella Yarns Brisbane 100% Wool 2/60 Superfine Wool yarn which is delicate, fine and lightweight enough to achieve that goal. Similarly, the Runda 2/60 yarn, which is a blend of linen, wool and silk, was a perfect choice to create a crisp light fabric for summer. The Runda yarn added an even more special touch to the garment thanks to its subtle linen feel.
During the development of the pieces, the main challenge for me was to imagine how the knitted pieces drape. Since the first prototypes were made from a jersey and not knitted directly. So the drape of the final knits is mostly different from those made from jersey.
The knit structures are particularly important to me and were mainly driven by the idea that these use modern technologies. For example, the pants are made with STOLL-weave-in® knitting technique, which can turn a conventional knit into pants that feel like woven and at the same time fully fashion knit. So the idea of producing with as little waste as possible also played an important role for me.
For the dress, it was especially interesting for me to make the ball-shaped mesh sleeves have an exciting drape. For the skirt part of the dress, I wanted a drape that was as flowy as possible, which was made possible by using Stoll Inverse Plating technology. Compared to other graphic patterning options, the knit here is still very fine and flowy even with the graphics.
The Südwolle Group yarns made from merino wool, are super fine and brilliant in their appearance. So I decided to use the solid coloured Brisbane yarn, which in combination offer a wonderful color contrast. In the tank top it was important for me to create a very light garment, which offers a very summery wearing comfort through Runda yarn in its wool linen blend.
Results | Learnings
A woolen knitted garment for the summer season is a special product idea, which makes all the features of the garment unique. The yarn choice gave the garment a summery lightweight feel, while the knitting techniques enhanced the design with delicate woven-like textures.
The process presented quite some challenges, which resulted in a meaningful experience. For example, due to the yarn qualities, some knitting techniques were too tricky to use, which became clear only during the swatching process, instead of at the programming stage. In addition, the development and production processes involved a lot of direct machine handling and manipulation of settings, again because of some unique attributes of the yarn.
There is always room for improvement, and with this design in particular, the STOLL-weave-in® knitting technique was quite a challenge, which is why it could use some further development or even an alteration of the technique itself.
The most important features of the garments for me are that they are very easy to wear and the joy that the colors trigger when worn. The extremely high fineness of the yarns and knits should transfer this feeling to the wearer. What is special about the pieces is that they are so easy to wear and yet incorporate the most modern yarns and knitting technology. Likewise, they are designed for a long life through very high quality production and therefore also contribute to a vibrant sustainable closet.
The most important learning for me in the process was that knitwear design can be more than just a sweater. With the ultra-modern very fine yarns and and today’s knitting technology, there are no limits to the garments available today. In addition, the parts can be made sustainably and are still fun to wear. If I could do the project again, I would push the technologies of knitting even further and continue to take them to their limits, thinking about a whole bunch of silhouettes.
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