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Knitting / Apparel

Learn And Locate

How and where to make knitted apparel ... Stoll will show you.

Virginia S. Borland, New York Correspondent

Knitting machines in a storefront in the center of New York City's garment district? If you think this is not what buyers are looking for, think again. The Stoll Fashion and Technology Center has been serving the fashion industry for more than three years, and it is becoming an increasingly important resource for creativity, sourcing and training at all levels.

At the high end of the fashion spectrum, Calvin Klein and Polo Ralph Lauren use the Stoll facility to create concept garments and to receive advice about yarn resources and production facilities that make quality apparel and have reliable deliveries. Need quantity? Kohl's is another user.

Major fashion colleges — including The School of Fashion at Parsons The New School for Design, Pratt Institute and Fashion Institute of Technology, all based in New York City; and the Fashion School at Kent State University, Kent, Ohio — send their students to the center to learn how to knit fabrics and create knitted apparel collections. Recently, 100 students attended University Day, during which they were shown the full scope of how to make apparel, from yarn through the supply chain to finished garment.

Plated jersey fully fashioned trousers with layered purl plissé pleats in the front are knitted on the waistband and are produced in gauge E 7.2 on Stoll's CMS 530 HP multi-gauge machine.

Germany-based H. Stoll GmbH & Co. KG has been manufacturing flat-bed knitting machinery since 1873. Today, the company's equipment is installed around the globe. Beth Hofer, senior manager, customer relations and education resources, New York, estimates there are roughly 1,000 machines in North America. Stoll's New York City facility has eight electronic machines, ranging from 16 gauge to 3 gauge.

Occupying a storefront on 39th Street, around the corner from Seventh Avenue, the center has knitting machines on the ground floor, along with a garment display showing some of the intricate capabilities of the machines. At the entrance, visible from the street, related products are shown. Currently, there are yarns from Peruvian alpaca yarn producer Itessa and metal buttons from The Waterbury Button Co., Cheshire, Conn., including replicas of those worn by personnel on the Titanic. Offices are on the mezzanine level; classrooms, archives and linking equipment are in the basement.


A Learning Place For Designers And Students
Knitting classes are held year-round, each over an intensive two-day period. Here, fashion designers and college students learn technology and are shown the functions of an industrial hand-flat-knitting machine, and they are taught stitch analysis and the stitch structure of basic knitting construction. The range of knits is extensive and goes from basic jersey, interlock and ribs to rice grains and Milanos. Designers from Armani and Marc Jacobs showed swatches they made on the first day of class, including intricate multi-color patterns and textures.

Knitting seminars take place in the evening over the course of three days. Day one, Knit 1 Purl 1, covers basic stitch structures; applications such as pockets, buttonholes and plackets; intarsias; multi-gauges; and layering. Day two, Knit 2 Purl 2, concentrates on jacquards. The third day goes into split stitches, all needle with transfer effects, plating and goring.

Linking equipment from Conti Complett S.p.A., Italy, matches the gauges of Stoll knitting machines. Here, garments are put together. Although Stoll knitting machines have the capabilities to make pockets, buttonholes and plackets, there are other applications, such as connecting front to back of a garment, that can be done by linking machines.

In the knitting classroom at the Stoll Fashion and Technology Center, students and designers gain practical knowledge constructing garments on the CMS 530 HP using a wide range of stitch structures.

Prototypes For Fashion Week
Many of the knitted garments that march down the runways during Fashion Week in New York are made at Stoll. Markus Kirwald, product development manager, works with designers to bring their concepts to reality. Working from sketches and extensive spec sheets, he oversees the making of sample garments, from yarn to fitted creation. Working with each designer, Kirwald will suggest yarn resources and explain the capabilities of both knitting and linking equipment. And when the orders come in, Stoll will give advice as to where apparel can be produced. Designers usually have global preferences and quantity requirements. Currently, there is increasing demand for garments made in the United States.

Stoll's prototype garment program for Fashion Week has caught on. For the February 2012 shows, the center's facilities were completely booked four months in advance. Membership in the Stoll Sample and Stitch Library includes unlimited access to the center's library, quarterly Trend Collection brochures, online access to its pattern library, and discounts for classes and seminars.

There are about a dozen yarn spinners on the recommended list. A lot are located in North and South America and in Italy. National Spinning Co. Inc., Washington N.C.; Yarn Mavens Inc., New York City; and Huntingdon Yarn Mill Inc., Philadelphia, are among the spinners.

Stoll equipment is able to knit yarns spun using a wide variety of fibers and yarn sizes. The variety of stitches is limitless, from basic to novelty. There are intricate patterns and multi-layered fabrics that can be knitted using different yarns and stitches.

Stoll's vast archives show fabrics and garments the company has produced. There are coats, suits, skirts, pants, dresses and tops knitted in cashmere, wool, silk, linen, cotton, man-made fibers and blends, all produced on full-fashion or knit-and-wear equipment. The garments and fabrics are not basic — the variety and intricacy are endless. Each style is identified by number, fiber content, yarn size, machine type used and knitting time.

Hofer noted that designers and retailers use the archives for both inspiration and ideas of what is possible. Members of the Stoll Sample and Stitch Library can access the library on their own computers. Here, they will have close-up views of fabrics and garments from all angles and can obtain construction information.

Along with fashion, Stoll is looking at new areas for the creation of fabrics and products using existing equipment. Upholstery fabrics and medical end-uses were mentioned.

There are 18 staff members in Stoll's New York office, with more on call during peak seasons. Many of the technical personnel have been trained in Germany. At SPINEXPO New York, which will take place July 16-18 at The Metropolitan Pavilion, the Stoll Knit Resource Center will show prototype garments and fabric swatches from its library, and give an overview of its multifaceted operations for the knitwear industry.

May/June 2012