WGSN fashion glossary: Your how to be a knitwear designer edition

Do you know your low from your high butts? I’m about to explain it all to you. With over 10 years experience as a knitwear designer and three years at WGSN, knits are my life. I love the process of creating and seeing what’s possible with a piece of yarn, and along the way I’ve experienced a lot, from the emotion fallout of watching your yarn snap to spending an extra two hours changing a pattern. So whether you are a knitwear novice or just someone who has an interest in knitwear, here are the key words that will help you get a better knowledge of the industry.

B is for butts = understand your high butts from your low butts. On a dubied industrial knitting machine, these are used to create pattern and texture.

C is for Cam = Cam’s change the tension, and work with the high butts and low butts.

D is for dubied = know your dubied from your domestic machine. The dubied is a industrial knitting machine that you’ll be asked to use at university and if you work for a studio.

wgsn_knitting2 wgsn_knitting

F is for fashion = There are usually two options at degree level to study knitwear, either as a textiles pathway or with fashion either with womenswear or menswear. The fashion option is more garment focused, you spend more time learning pattern cutting and construction in addition to creating whole outfits and illustrations.

G is for Guernsey (or gansey)= know the difference between the Guernsey (a fishman’s knitted woollen sweater) and the Icelandic Lopi (a handknitted sweater with curved yoke)



I is for internship = Internships can really help you to gain more in depth knowledge of the subject as well as an understanding of how the fashion industry works. You may not know what kind of market level you would like to work in and so trying different companies can also be an eye opening experience. Often agents don’t take students onto their books so getting a job under your belt is key and an internship is probably the best way to get a permanent job. In addition you get great contacts out of the experience, networking is important so it helps not to make enemies!

K is for knitting needles = you actually won’t use these a lot, but it’s useful to know the fundamentals of knitting.


L is for ladders = this is when you drop a stitch and spend many an hour afterwards repairing it.

N is for networking =It’s worth noting that having a positive attitude and being helpful can be as important as ability in getting a job. Explore every avenue. Just say yes. Everyone will have a different story to tell with regards to how they first started out in fashion but using your contacts and being open to helping people really helps to create opportunities.

S is for social media =Getting press, using social media and getting your name out there, meeting people and collaborating with friends are all good ways of getting your first foot on the ladder. Don’t be backward at coming forward! Being good at promoting yourself and talking about your work also helps as confidence and self belief is contagious.

+ spoon = the hook that continues the stitch.

T is for textiles = The textiles focus at university level can give you more time to learn the technical aspect of knitting and is great to get to grips with mastering all the machinery. (Knitting can lead to tears be warned..) It is important to do your research on the type of degree course that will suit you. I studied at Central St. Martins and loved the creativity but felt I still needed to get to grips with the technical side so went on to do an MA.

W is for work experience = this is so beneficial so my advice would be to try and gain some knowledge of the industry first before deciding whether you would like to continue to study.

Y is for yarn= On a practical level knitwear is very technical and something of a niche subject so the more knowledge you can gain about yarn, stitch, pattern and garment construction goes a long way. Take your time and stay focused. Patience is another thing you learn when you start on the knitwear path!

Like this? For more knitwear trends, and data on the key print and graphics focus for this season, join WGSN.








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