THERE'S a revolution under way. It's a quiet one and in an unlikely place -- among the knitters of Scotland. It began with the cashmere knitters of the Borders, an uplands region in southern Scotland. They awoke to the fact that superb quality and manufacturing don't alone guarantee success. Without good design, the product pales. (Some of the more enterprising caught on to the need for design a while back -- people like Ballantyne, who employed designers such as Bonnie Cashin and Karl Lagerfeld; or Pringle, the sweater manufacturer who made a name with design in the 1950s.)
Now most of the Scottish knitting industry is recruiting design talent from fashion colleges like Trent and Newcastle.
In hand-knits, some sterling work is being done by Patricia Berry at the Scottish Trade Development office near Trafalgar Square. She garners the best of Scottish talent and shows it to the world. Among her finds is Lynda McDowall, who has only one hand-knitting frame in her home at Aberdeenshire. From here, Ms. McDowall designs and produces elegant sweaters in neutral shades with geometric patterns.
Another design specialist is Lynda Usher, trained at the Royal College of Art in London but now a resident of Scotland. She has an army of 70 hand-knitters, working away on her designs in silk, cotton, wool, and cashmere. Ms. Usher's work has been on display at London's Design Centre, where the latest names in British talent show their creations.
Many London knitters are capitalizing on design, too. Among them is Kay Cosserat, another Design Centre exhibitor. Her newest knitwear emphasizes a patchwork effect, blending tweeds, florals, and carpet patterns.-- Jackie Moore