Stitch London Blog

The Fabulous Story of Stitch London (formerly Stitch and Bitch London)

  • Stitch London meet the folks at John Smedley

    Posted by Deadly Knitshade on October 5, 2010

    Back in the summer Stitch London were contacted by a giant in knitting history, the good folks at John Smedley. John Smedley are one of Britain’s oldest knitwear companies, established 225 years ago in 1784. That is some serious time knitting.

    John Smedley invited the Stitch London Stitchettes up to Matlock in lovely Derbyshire to see where the knitwear action happens and learn a little about the Smedley Family.

    Fancy coming with us on the factory tour?

    The historic John Smedley factory in the heart of lovely green Matlock

    We arrive at the John Smedley factory in the magic Smedley bus

    First stop was a room full of the finished product. Much squealing and ooing and ahhing ensued.

    Colourful knits

    Stripey knits

    Stripey knits

    Knitwear love

    Before they become knits: cotton and fleece

    Then onto the factory and a some lessons in knitwear history. We were shown around by our tour guide John (not the Smedley John but another one) who had become a tour guide after working in the factory for over 30 years. He knew everything there was to know (and he let us snaffle a few lovely yarny scraps too).

    Learning a little Smedley history

    A talented tattooed lady works the spinning machine

    Working away on the factory floor

    One is impressed by your knitwear

    Dye another day (sorry)

    The fabric is put through its paces with loads and loads of washes


    Fluffy fleece and friends

    The Fibre Flinger attempts to comb The Bluestocking Stitcher

    Column of collars

    HUGE knitting machines

    A stash so big it needs stairs

    Fabric patiently waiting to become clothes

    A pair of long johns are born. (Not someone being sucked into the knitting machine)

    Whole lotta blocking stuff

    Whole lotta blocking stuff


    Then off to the room where all the finishing is done. The people working there were doing wonders of stitching. Amazing stuff.

    Some very savvy stitchers

    A little bit of chopping

    A rather funky finishing machine

    Checking for imperfections on a handy pair of light-up legs

    That last little label

    The tour ends. Red yarn for all! Yay!

    Off home to ponder how to turn what we've seen into something sneaky...

    This was all in preparation for a very special project where graffiti knitting will meet traditional knitwear, as Stitch London and their sneaky stitching friends at Knit the City yarnstorm John Smedley’s Brook Street store in central London.

    You’re all invited to come along and see the yarnstorm. You can even join us at the launch on October 11.

    See our website for full details of the big event

    The entire piece will be made of John Smedley’s yarn and scraps left over from their clothes making.

    This is going to be fun…

    One Response to “Stitch London meet the folks at John Smedley”

    1. brigitte said

      Great John Smedley factory photos. Wish I’d been there. Eyes would be going round like Kaa’s in the Jungle Book.

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