And in the Baltic Countries

I have already written a comprehensive article on knitting in these countries based on scanty subject literature and my own archival and museum inves-

ligations.86 Owing to the widespread use of the national dress among men and women in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, knitted garments were not in great demand. They were, however, a part of the uniform of some military forces; they were also worn with female dress based on west European fashion, as well as in the liturgical garments of the Orthodox clergy. There were a few hand- knitters working in Russia, but they did not form separate guild organizations. For instance, in the autumn of 1633 a large number of long, above-knee, stockings were ordered for the newly organized regiments, outfitted in uniforms of a west European pattern. The small number of Moscow knitters was unable to met this order quickly enough, so craftsmen from the towns of the Vladimir and Galic districts were approached and soon the stockings were produced.87

It was Peter I who introduced knitting manufactures with used the machine. This was closely connected with his orders to relinquish the national dress and introduce west European dress, at least among the boyars (Russian noblemen). Mechanization of knitting production aided by strong state support was introduced simultaneously to Prussia, even earlier than in Poland. Manufactures based their production on imported raw material, machines and experts, with the help of large grants from the state.

From 1702 there had been plans to open a knitwear factory for the wholesale production of stockings, and contact was made with two German overseeres. This plan underlined the need to import three or four knitting machines together with other implements and basic materials for the production of a large assortment of stockings, from the finest silk to the coarsest poil de castor. But Keller, the overseer, could not agree on financial matters with Brokgauzen, the general organizer of the group of factories. So two years later the Germans were replaced by Frenchmen. On 11 November 1704, four foreign overseers arrived at Moscow under the aegis of the men named Montobrion or Mambrion. Those named in documents are Lewis Russel, in charge of the preparation of fine thread, for making stockings, and Pierre Gerard, a specialist in the construction and maintenance of knitting machines. The two other overseers were probably concerned with the knitting and finishing of stockings and the training of Russian workers. Four knitting machines were imported, with a stock of spare needles and sinkers, other small parts, and a supply of wool, the native wool being considered too coarse.88

The industry was first established in the German settlement, and then, from 1706 onwards, in the Posolski Dvor in Moscow, although initially subject to the military authorities, it produced stockings not just for the army but also for general sale. Manufacture of clothing, both wool and silk, began in March 1705. Each foreign overseer was in charge of apprentices, female spinners and an auxiliary workman. Nevertheless, only eight complete pairs of stockings were produced in the first two months, whilst seventy-four pairs were awaiting finishing, or dyeing, sewing, fulling, making up, and ironing. The first four pairs were offered to Peter I, who authorized the purchase of 4000 lb. good quality wool from Astrakhan but at the same time ordered experiments to be made with local wool. But output in the first ten months was extremely low; only 300 pairs of stockings, of which 250 were sold on the open market. The cost of these products was too high for them to be able to compete with those from abroad. At the time the manufacture employed 15 workers who produced thirteen to fourteen pairs a month. Profits did not cover either the purchase of materials or the workers' pay. In the years that followed, production by the factory did not exceed 360 pairs per annum or about 30 pairs a month. This proves that there must have been periods of great stagnation; in the second half of the eighteenth century, for instance, one of the Polish knitwear manufactures was making up to the 200 pairs a month on three machines.89

The output did not make a profit, particularly because of the high cost of importing wool from Spain and Turkey (Russian wool was rarely used). It was there fore decided to let the factory for a ten-year term at 40 roubles per annum to one of the overseers, who, in 1715, promised to give ten people instruction in the trade, so the factory came in the hand of Montobrion, who possessed no capital but counted on a permanent subsidy from the State. During the first two years, Montrbrion did not even pay the agreed rent; despite this and a loan of 500 roubles, he had to struggle against the odds, being unable to compete with imported products. But on 14 February 1717 a ban was imposed on importing stockings from abroad, and this brought about a vital change: it then became possible to expand the manufacture of cheaper products. Until the end of the lease in 1721, 7000 pairs of stockings at 31 kopeks (that is, cheaper products made from the local wool) were supplied to the army authorities as military equipment, together with an unspecified quantity of stockings for sale. The rise of production was halted by the death of Montobrion.90

Towards 1720-1730 factories in active production began to be sold to private owners, so in the 13 April 1722 stocking manufacture became the property of Rodion Voronin. It was valued at 4445 roubles, 57 kopeks. Voronin also owned a factory which made kersey; for stocking manufacture he probably used a combed wool thread, and sent samples of his products to the College of Berg. The output of the manufacture increased considerably. In 1726 in employed 37 workers: 8 foremen manufactured stockings on the knitting machines, the thread was prepared by carders and combers and eighteen spinners; the fuller and dyer dealt with the finishing processes. The factory was run by the local manager, who had been trained by the late Frenchmen. The stockings produced were quite strongly differentiated by quality and price: stockings of fulled wool cost up to 10 roubles; those made in beaver or a silk mixture cost 20 roubles, and silk stockings were up to 30 roubles a dozen. Apparently silk was imported ready spun, as there is no mention of silk spinners. But the sale of local merchandise was continually impeded by the illegal importation of western European products.91

The story told here of the first knitwear factory in Moscow is typical of this king of enterprise in central and eastern Europe in the eighteenth century. Most often they were started near textile factories making cloth and other woollen or silk goods, as this facilitated both the bulk purchase of raw materials and the manufacture of thread. In the first instance, all the work was done on imported machines under the supervision of foreign overseers. Peter I's factories enjoyed special protection by the State; in the equivalent Polish or Hungarian enterprises, the decline of a knitwear factory was sometimes only due to the lack of a specialist capable of repairing the most complicated of all the textile machines of this period. The equipment of small factories usually only consisted of a few machines. There were also technical difficulties in dyeing and hand fulling woollen stockings in small fulling mills. But the most serious difficulties were economic: a lack of capital to buy the raw materials and pay for foreign specialists and equipment, and difficulty in disposing of the merchandise because of strong competition from products imported from western Europe. In contrast to this, the development of the first knitwear factory in Moscow took place in favourable conditions, and probably in due time its output actually increased. The history of Russia's knitwear factories in the second half of the eighteenth century has not yet been studied, nor has that of other textiles factories.

Nevertheless, even if one relics only on fragmentary information about the history of textile production and trade, one can presume that this production was quite widespread and was not concentrated only in the largest urban centres of the time, such as Moscow or St. Petersburg. E. I. Zaozerskaja considers that the manufacture of stockings between 1720 and 1760 is linked with the production of silk goods, which was developing at that time.92 In the trade and custom documents of different Russian fairs, the textile products most often mentioned are those from Moscow. Around 1720, for instance, silk stockings from Moscow were being sold in the market at Nizhnyi-Novogorod. They were also sent to other fairs, even as far away as the Archangel region and Siberia. Mostly these were woollen stockings and gloves "made in Moscow". Around 1737 there is a reference to 10,000 pairs of stockings produced for the use of the army.93 These examples prove the existence of a quite copious output of knitted goods in several factories and craftsmen's shops which were in process of expansion. I. V. Meshalin adds that woollen stockings were also made in Moscow district in 1773.94 Other important centres of the knitting industry also existed, such as the town of Kashino in the Volga region. All the Russian markets sold a large quantity of woollen stockings, socks, gloves, and particularly varezhki (winter gloves with one finger, or mittens) made in the first half of the eighteenth century by the knitters of Kashino. For instance, there is a reference to 1260 pairs of stockings, or to several hundred pairs being sold in a single market, which implies an extremely important artisan industry and perhaps even the existence of a factory. In documents relating to different Russian markets, there is more than one reference to fulled wool stockings "from Jaroslav", and also to gloves and mittens. In one case, 2900 pairs of stockings are involved; in others, a few hundred. These documents show that besides Kashino there was a second important centre for knitwear. The products of Jaroslav were quoted beside importations from Germany, which proves that their quality was already well known. According to the custom registers, the third centre of the knitting industry was Great Novogorod. Around 1714 it was producing gloves and coarse sheep's wool stockings, which occur in rather insignificant quantities - 100 pairs at most, in the registers of markets in other Russian towns.95 So too with Niznyi-Novogorod, where five stockings makers are recorded in 1722.96 Knitted gloves and stockings were also made at Kazan, Kaluga, and Tihvin.97 Information on hand knitting is derived chiefly from the history of trade; for hand-knitters, even in the eighteenth century, were very rarely counted as foremen of members of craftsmen's guilds; some of them had perhaps learned their trade earlier on, in the first manufactures. This is very probable since K. A. Pazhitnov's monograph, which shows the problem of craftsmen's guilds in the legislation of absolute monarchy in Russia, makes no mention of stockings makers. Neither in his numerous tables, nor in detailed enumeration of collective textile associations (of the Tver governments, for instance) does this author mention a stocking maker or knitter.98

However, this want of information on the importance of Russian knitted goods production in the eighteenth century does not prove that it was stagnating; on the contrary, the information we have on the general use of knitted garments permits the conclusion that it was expanding. During the second half of the eighteenth century there was increasing use of knitwear, particularly woollen or cotton stockings, both by men and women. At St. Petersburg in 1804, in the provision for pensioner of a hospital associated with an almshouse, two pairs of woollen and cotton stockings per annum were allowed to each invalid and undoubtedly this was a most economical allowance.99 Knitted gloves were less usual because in winter times people generally wore leather gloves or fur mittens. In the customs registers there are several references to other merchandise, possibly knitted, such as different types of woollen belt.100 Frequent use of knitted stockings and gloves in popular dress as well as knitted bedspreads, is found from the eighteenth century on.101 So that Russian knitting was already widespread in the eighteenth century, both the machine knitting made in the manufactures or by urban craftsmen, and hand knitting used for domestic purposes.

No data are available about the dimensions of knitting in Latvia and Estonia; nevertheless, folk knitting of which there is documentary evidence already in the seventeenth century, at least testifies to the wide diffusion of hand knitting in the next century. Patterned stockings and coloured doublets were prevalent on the islands of Mukhu and Kihknu.102 On the other hand, in left-bank Ukraine, belonging at the time to Russia, no knitting manufacture was recorded right up to the end of the eighteenth century,103 although a small production could have existed in clothiers' manufactures.

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