Its funny how you can live somewhere for years , yet still find new places to explore. So, given a slightly showery July day, I headed to somewhere I had never explored: the Framework Knitters Museum in Ruddington. I’ll admit, I didn’t know what Framework Knitters even meant. Maybe that was the reason I hadn’t got round to going.
Ruddington itself is a pretty village just south of Nottingham, easily accessible by bus from the city centre. It s a lovely enough place in its own right to have a little potter about, but it boasts three museums; The Great Central Railway Museum, The Ruddington Village Museum and the The Framework Knitters Museum. Not bad for a little village.
The Framework Knitters Museum is just off the main road, near the village green and is hidden away down a small side street. Following the signs you are led into a pretty courtyard, surrounded by the buildings that make up the museum.
My confusion over what exactly framework knitters did was answered by a short film, filmed on site that featured a local boy telling the story of how first stocking making, then knitting fabric on wooden looms was at the heart of life in Nottinghamshire. The tale was a harrowing one; landlords not only garida rented out homes but the equipment needed for people to make a living. Then they took a cut of the profits too. Lovely.
Upstairs from the video room is a room full of stocking knitting machines. A wonderful demonstrator not only talks about the machines and the people who used them, but lets you have a go too!
Back across the courtyard, is the main frame knitting workshop. The frames kind of resemble upright pianos and watching one of the demonstrators or volunteers operating it is amazing. The process happens on such a small scale in such a short space of time that is hard to properly see what is happening. But they have a clever up-sized version to help show what is happening.
Al lot of framework knitters worked from their own home and the whole family had to get involved. A cottage has been set up as it was in the the mid 1800’s, complete with frame in the main living room. You get a wonderful sense that people really lived here and I love that you are invited to ‘explore the drawers’ (not an offer you get every day….!) in the bedroom to see snippets of the occupants lives. Next door is the cottage of the site manager, and you can clearly see the difference in living standards.
We finished up in the small tea room, and when I say small, I mean small- there are four tables! And I do love somewhere that gives you a plate of biscuits with your tea. My kind of place! There is a small shop ‘The Textile Emporium’ , that sells work of local artists, mainly textile and knitted, complete with a wonderful old till!
There is also a wash house, Luddite gallery, chapel, privy and pig sty and the garden at the centre of the courtyard is just beautiful. It is a wonderful little place, run by enthusiastic staff and volunteers. I am so pleased I finally found out what a Framework Knitter did.
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