Permission to yarnstorm: Knit the City knit John Smedley

11 Feb

It was an unlikely match: one of Britain’s oldest knitwear designers (they’ve been making trendy knits for over 200 years) and one of London’s sneakiest stitching crews. But when John Smedley invited the Knit the City Yarn Corps to show a little of their history in graffiti knitted form we were wooed by just how much history they had.

Wool whirled, fibre scraps flew and Knit the City created a little bit of knitted history smack bang in John Smedley’s Brook Street store. The pieces featured along with the work of several other contributors from the woolly Godzilla that is Stitch London, the UK’s largest knitting group.

Here’s a peek at our finished bits of Smedley-flavoured knit:


Shorn-a the Dead conjured up the founding of the historic mill where the process of sheep to yarn to woolly jumper was first perfected.

From woolly creatures to woolly jumpers

From woolly creatures to woolly jumpers

Two smiling sheep

1784 saw the first record of the Lea Mills, historic mill building on the factory site for ‘spinning fine wools and cotton’.


The Fastener produced a finely dressed Victorian lady who was happy to tell the world that only the finest folks wore John Smedley underwear.

Only the finest ladies...

In the 1820s John Smedley installed the first knitting frames in a factory environment to knit underwear.

The company prospered in the Victorian era, in the heartland of the industrial revolution. It was one of the first factories,as they are known today and this era sees major further developments from Water wheel to electricity.


Deadly Knitshade turned her yarnstorm Japanese to show Smedley taking on the latest knitting machine technology from the Far East.

Robot knit knit knitting

In the 1990s John Smedley opened the flagship store at Brook street, started the web store, and installed the latest Japanese machines, capable of patterning garments and multi-stripes.

Fabric scraps take flight

The lovely Lady Loop put her needles to work on making a handmade hive and handsome Smedley fabric bugs and butterflies.

A Stitched Self fashion parade

And not forgetting the fashion parade of 11 of John Smedley’s most iconic items, including the Long Johns which the company invented.

The John Smedley Bridge

And last but by no means least the John Smedley factory bridge. This marvellous monster was created by The Fastener (with a little bit of help from Deadly Knitshade and Shorn-a the Dead) and is a tribute to the bridge on site at the real life Smedley factory. An astonishing work of fabric and inspiration.

The bridge in all its finery

Bridge back

Let the yarnstorm commence!

After admiring it all, it was time to yarnstorm. And yarnstorm we did.

A yarnstormed window by Stitch London and Knit the City


The John Smedley project was yarnstormed at their Brook Street store on October 11 2010 by Deadly Knitshade, The Fastener, Lady Loop and Shauna the Dead. The pieces were joined by items from Stitch London’s members which you can see  over on the Stitch London blog.

For more on the Smedley graffiti knits check out:

Stitch London’s John Smedley Yarnstorm


One Response to “Permission to yarnstorm: Knit the City knit John Smedley”

  1. jafagirls February 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    OMG, you guys ROCK, just brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!

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