What is Framework Knitting?
Machine knitting was invented in 1589 by William Lee from Calverton in Nottinghamshire. The knitting frame made it possible for workers to produce knitted goods approximately 100 times faster than by hand. The industry was primarily based in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire.
The art of framework knitting is not difficult to acquire, but the best finished work, and all the fancy work, require a quick sight, a ready hand and retentive faculties… I have tried within these few weeks and found the labour very severe… From the Royal Commission enquiring into the conditions of framework knitters 1845
What were working conditions like for framework knitters?The following is taken from the Royal Commission on Children in Factories, 1833:
…they are, many of them, unhealthy and dyspeptic; …from the long period of labour endured in a close and confined atmosphere….I can tell a stockinger well by his appearance; there is a paleness and certain degree of emaciation and thinness about them.
Wages have fallen in each branch of the framework knitting trade during the last 30 years, about thirty per cent.
The workmen… are physically deteriorated; they are mentally depressed and too often morally debased. Ill fed, ill lodged, and ill clothed… they are a class… easily distinguishable from most others by their personal appearance… hopeless poverty is producing fearful demoralisation…