Machine Knitting in Scandinavia

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In Scandinavian countries hand knitting along with the knotless netting technique satisfied the clothing requirements of the inhabitants. The knitting machine probably appeared early in Sweden, because Jonas Alströmer brought a few models of it in 1723 and opened a manufacture in a complex of textile establishments near Göteborg. One of these machines of the most simple construction datable 1723 has been preserved in the Tekniske Museet in Stockholm. The second knitting manufacture was the establishment of J. Corbier in 1732. The first attempts to limit importation with the help of the textile manufactures arise in Sweden in 1649. However, the ban on the import of silk products is removed in 1724 and re-imposed in 1739; the largest Swedish silk production dates to the sixties of the eighteenth century. At that very time knitting production based on imported silk as well as on local wool increases. We do not know, however, the dimensions of these first manufactures.63 The knitting machine spread quite quickly, The ingenious Swedish inventor, Christopher Polhem, built two knitting machine models in the years 1730-1745. It was a technical solution based on different principles of construction; it was not introduced into the industry. The volume of production of Swedish knitting can be evaluated on the basis of fragmentary data from the second half of the eighteenth century. For example, in 1765 the centre in Halland supplied the Swedish army with 24,000 pairs of stockings. In the seventies traders from the domestic putting-out system were supplying the admiralty with 10,000 pairs of stockings per year, apart from producing for the internal market.64 These data reveal the importance of Swedish knitting which at least partly satisfied the hosiery needs of the army, navy and local market.

The first knitting manufactures in Copenhagen were established by Friderich Boye in 1680 and Johann Simeon Juvalta in 1736. This latter manufacture was working on 15 machines, producing woollen and silk, and later, cotton stockings. During the eighteenth century there also appeared the manufacture of J. M. W. Engelbrecht and of other three enterpreneurs. A similar establishment existed in Hirscholm. Around 1741 machine production also started in an important hand knitting centre in Herning in central Jutland, in connection with royal support for the mechanization of this production. In a description of Denmark from 1802 there appears a mention that in Hoeringsholm in Jutland there were up to 20,000 pairs of woollen and linen stockings being sold per year.65 In a description on Norway from 1802 no knitting manufactures appear in the list of textile manufactures. But recently some mention referring to the use of knitting frames has been found. In Bergen in 1764 there was an artisan who made hosiery using a machine. Later suggestions of use of knitting frames begann to be more numerous in Norway betwenn 1785-1797. It seems that a manufacture existed in Amodt in Storelvdal an also some trials took place in Trondheim.66 Also lacking are data on the mechnization of knitting in Finland and Iceland before the end of the eitghteenth century. Only hand knitting suitable for the needs of the local market has been confirmed without any doubt, while the existence of machine knitting still requires further investigation.

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