HANDMADE

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This is how we do it

Winter in Holland not only knits by hand, but also partly dyes the yarns by hand. The bigger we grow, the more difficult production gets and the more important things such as efficiency, planning, and quality become. So let me tell you how we do it:

We start by dying the yarns. How it all started? Let me take you back to the second year of WiH: I had a massive order and needed to buy my yarns from my supplier. The dyer of my supplier had run out of business and there was no way that my supplier could find another dyer for my specific request. At the time I had no idea about how to dye yarns. I had a problem I needed to solve.

I found this fabric-dye wizard located in the North of the country. No kidding, this man is a master in dying yarns and is devoted to sharing his far-reaching knowledge. He and his wife are incredible wholehearted people who were willing to share their expertise to help me out with my problem. Me and my mother went for a trip to the Northern provinces and we were taught how to dye my specific design.

 Schermafbeelding 2016-08-04 om 15.17.04  Verf  winding

From then on, I travel from Amsterdam to my elderly home in the South of The Netherlands four times a year, to dye big batches of yarns with my mother. I stay 4 or 5 days and it feels like a peaceful holiday while all the hard work is being done. In Summer we dye outside and in Winter we dye inside the house. During Winter my mothers’ kitchen turns into a dye-laboratory and her living room turns into the drying chamber for the dozens hanks of wool, hanging from the ceiling on wooden bars.

Wool_web

On the last day in Limburg we turn the hanks into balls of wool and I drive them up to Amsterdam where they will be knitted.

I started out knitting on my grandmothers’ knitting machine. After 3 years, I needed to upscale my production, so I bought knitting machines 2nd hand from other grandmothers and brought them to an atelier in my neighborhood in Amsterdam. I made a deal with the atelier: I would teach the ladies of this tiny production atelier how to knit on my machines, if in return they were willing to produce for Winter in Holland in the future. And so it happened.

For half a year I taught a group of ladies from my neighborhood how to use the machine and knit my designs. Knitting on the machine is not an easy task. It requires a lot of attention and patience before you can knit a product with ease. These ladies are motivated to become crafts(wo)men in the near-future.

Cone structure  Tools   Machines

In this article, we explain why we still produce hand-made products at Winter in Holland.

This is why we do it

I started out knitting my textile designs by hand. At first, hand knitting was a way to get my products into shops. It was hyper practical: I had something in my mind and executed it within the same hour. Costs were low and everything was easy. I sold a piece and I made a piece.

Within the first year, orders were small. Nothing I could not handle. |n my second year I went from 2 days a week knitting, to 6 days a week knitting. All that knitting gives you heaps of time to think; I started questioning why I would continue doing the hand-made pieces in my collections. The idea of making all these pieces is to get them as identical as possible anyways. Why not just make the change to fully produce it all in factories?

Believe me, I love knitting, but when you knit THAT much, you start questioning wether you have become a slave of your own ideas and desires and lost the bigger picture of your goals. What is it about hand-made that I believe is something to cherish?

Craftmanship is defined by a state of engagement. With the knowledge of a craft, you can create objects that have never been created before. That gives a youthful curiousity and triggers you to explore. It drives you to find solutions to problems, to specialize yourself in your material in order to make the un-makeable. Craftmanship gives you the opportunity to create what is in your head, with your own hands.

WHYwe do it

However, modern society does not think highly of manual skills and hand crafted products. Often I hear that people question why the same product is not made in a factory. Mainly this question is the result of seeing the price of the product. What people don’t see, is that often the price of production in a factory is not much cheaper than doing it by hand, its just faster. Prices become lower mostly when a factory performs mass-production.

Do they think hand-made products are not reliable in quality? Do they believe it is made under bad circumstances? I don’t know what is going on with the branding behind ‘HandMade’, but I do believe people don’t understand the actual facts behind it.

Modern society seems to forget, or never learned, that in the bigger industries many disciplines use ‘hands’ next to machines. Things such as sowing and cutting fabrics for H&M is done by people in Turkey, parts of airplanes and boats are shaped by metal-workers by hand in in the harbors of Tokyo and there is a huge indian hand-weaving industry. These are not in bad labour conditions. People make these products with their hands by using machines like a wood-worker uses an automatic screw-driver.

When performing a craft like a professional, you need to learn how to communicate with the materials. While knitting, your body is the main tool. The essence of the work is the way your full body keeps on moving the machine. The rhythm you decide to master in order to create new rows in your fabric. The tension your hands give to the wool slipping through your fingers. The decision of the knitter to reply to the inconsistent dye of the yarn. Sometimes pulling the yarn a bit tighter or giving it a little bit more space. All these decisions are per row, per cm, per product made by the knitter. You can see it on a product, even though it is executed perfectly well with the best quality.

It is exactly this why I keep on making products by hand. It adds extra layers of soul to the product. Let’s celebrate craftsmanship.

Curious how we do it? Find out by reading this article.