Prof Sandy Black

Our Chair, Sandy Black, has provided us with a biographical sketch. Visit our Resources section for this and more Knitting History Profiles.

Prof Sandy Black
Professor of Fashion and Textile Design and Technology
Centre for Sustainable Fashion
London College of Fashion
University of the Arts London

I am a designer, author, editor and academic researcher, publishing widely on knitwear and textiles, fashion, technology and sustainability. My major books on the subject of knitting history and design are: Knitting: Fashion, Industry, Craft (V&A Publishing 2012), covering 1700 years of knitting history and technology through the lens of the V&Aโ€™s extensive collection and other key examples; Knitwear in Fashion (Thames & Hudson 2002 & 2005) examining design and innovation in knitwear in 20th century fashion and the arts; and Sandy Black Original Knitting (Unwin Hyman, 1987) a book of 30 innovative knitwear designs. I have also published two pioneering books on fashion and sustainability: Eco Chic the Fashion Paradox (Black Dog Publishing 2008 & 2011) and The Sustainable Fashion Handbook (Thames & Hudson 2012). I founded and co-edit the Routledge journal: Fashion Practice: Design, Creative Process and the Fashion Industry, published since 2009.

KHF Chair, Prof Sandy Black, introduces speaker Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd, at the 2014 Knitting History Conference
KHF Chair, Prof Sandy Black, introduces speaker Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd, at the 2014 Knitting History Conference

My career has followed an unconventional path in industry and academia. I crossed disciplines from sciences and mathematics education to creative arts, textiles and fashion design, ran a successful fashion knitwear business, then joined higher education as a lecturer, becoming director of academic programmes and finally research professor. With interests in both the sciences and the arts, I studied BSc Mathematics at University College London, but also loved making things by knitting, crochet and sewing. I became inspired by the creative potential of the knitted stitch as a unit of design to create patterns and images on graph paper for knitting. The link between mathematics and knitting was little understood in academic education at the time, so I forged my own independent career path, becoming an entrepreneurial selfโ€“taught knitwear designer and businesswoman. Supporting myself initially by teaching numeracy to adults, I built a creative business as Design Director of Sandy Black Knitwear Ltd, designing and manufacturing ready-to-wear knitwear and unique knitting yarn and pattern kits for the international fashion market, selling to prestigious fashion stores worldwide (UK, USA, Japan, Italy, Germany, Australia, Canada etc). My work was part of a British โ€˜knitwear revolutionโ€™, a craft-led design movement that influenced the wider fashion industry. The Knitwear Revolution (Bell and Hyman,1983), a book by respected fashion writer Suzy Menkes, featured knitwear patterns from 20 designers with my own Vase of Flowers angora coat on the cover. I have continuallly championed the practice and study of knitted textiles and knitwear and curated the exhibition The New Knitting which toured the UK in 1997 and from 2000-2002.

After 15 years in business, I entered the higher education sector, first directing the undergraduate academic programmes in textiles and fashion at University of Brighton, then joining London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, to develop and lead the multi-disciplinary MA Fashion Studies programme. For the last decade I have focused on supervising PhD research and developed research projects on design for sustainability and knitwear design using advanced technologies. As part of my Considerate Design initiative in 2007-2009, I researched personalisation and fit of knitwear towards reducing waste, a project exhibited at the Science Museum London 2010-11. In spring 2015, I undertook a Leverhulme International Academic Fellowship at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand, investigating the application of mathematical concepts to 3D knit contruction, an ongoing project.