¡Discover the Legacy!
The sculpture “Las Caladoras” of Ingenio takes its design from a knitting draft that forms the basis to continue working with different knitting stitches.
This work of art constitutes a huge concrete cloth set with 680 pieces resembling a big loom.
It is an art piece by Noemí Arrocha and Juan José Bravo with the purpose of paying tribute to the “Caladoras” (Lady knitters) of La Villa de Ingenio and its representative tradition.
The Artisan Village of Gran Canaria
As an artisan village par excellence, this beautiful art of knitting, popularized by the “Caladoras”, is performed in the local houses kept as a unique artisan work with its distinctive seal and sign of identity.
History you can breathe
The origin of knitting seems to be located between the borders of Portugal and the provinces of Andalusia and Extremadura, due to the similarity in some techniques which, with the insular development, found a way to manifest. The manufacturing of knitting was performed within the family production unit. At least until 1891. In that year, the Madeira operation plan was adopted. Once in 1901, the successful productivity and the external demand led to the opening of the first exportation house on the island.
The main receiver center at that time was London, which also had the raw materials supply monopoly for the industry.
The canarian knitting: So different and unique
The profession of Canarian knitting has some distinguishing features from the rest of traditional occupations.
A mostly female job
The necessary labour was strictly female, it was basically obtained in rural areas, more specifically in areas for seasonal monoculture plantations of tomatoes.
Nevertheless, by the end of the First World War, the knitting demand undermined considerably and the number of knitters diminished progressively until the 50’s. At that moment, the production was reactivated by creating the female division which caused a major boom.
Knitting is still considered as one of the most delicate and meticulous pieces of work among other artisan activities in the Canary Islands.
We could add, without fear of being mistaken, that knitting has been the artisan activity with the biggest projection in the international market (England, USA and in a minor scale, Germany and France).
During the twentieth century, despite the foreign competition (Scottish, Madeiran and Japanese), the production could keep afloat due
to the cheap labour and women from the most disadvantaged popular sectors.
Therefore the intermediary and entrepreneur would supply the fabric and then buy the final product. The delivery girl, who acted as a link to the entrepreneur, would deliver the fabrics once they were marked and so the knitters could start working.
The other way of producing was on demand, in which the client would supply the fabric to the knitter while setting a price. During the 60’s decade of the twentieth century, the transmission of knowledge played a significant role in the artisan workshops created by the female division across the different islands of the archipelago. This situation is very close to the current creation of employment workshops and trade schools.
The knitter does the job inside the domestic environment, so the loom can be located in one of the properties of the family. In this manner, the knitter can perform her job as a complementary activity to other work or housework.
The tools to carry out these knitting pieces are mostly the same as those for sewing.
The most peculiar tool in Canarian knitting is the frame, a wooden structure in which the fabric is fixed to make the asset easier. Whenever the frame is a big one, they would use mounts to support it and keep the piece horizontal and well fixed.
● Pointed tip scissors
● Sewing thread for tightening
● Knitting needles
The materials used for knitting are the following:
● Linen (also known as thread fabric) and cotton fabric are used for big pieces such as
towels, tablecloths, baskets or table runners of any size that need consistency,
● Cotton fabric or cambric are used for bet sheets, blouses and scarves.
● Cotton threads.
● No. 16 and 20 pearl balls and no. 8 pearl hanks are used for knitting linen fabric.
● No. 20 pearl balls and no. 12 pearl hanks are used for knitting cotton fabric.
● Sewing machine thin threads and embroidery hanks are used for knitting cambric
Knitting consists in fraying the fabric to then knit it in the frame that we’ve created and achieving with threads the chosen drawings and various and complex patterns. These
drawings are often inspired in flora or architectural motives which have equally adopted their forms from nature. These are the steps followed in knitting:
● Cutting the fabrics depending on the sizes of the workpiece that’s going to be carried out.
● Marking the piece, which is done horizontally as well as vertically, leaving a 2 centimeter edge.
● Doing the hem in the fabric to prevent it from distorting when fraying it.
● Thread fraying or strands removal. The scheme will be determined by the design
● Placing it in the loom. The fabric that we are knitting is fixed to some pieces of fabric
previously nailed on two sides of the wooden frame that conforms the loom. Rods are placed, and nails are pinned, leaving the fabric loose, then we tighten it with thread from the fabric to the rods.
● Knitting the fabric, which is basically attaching the loose strands left in the disjointed fabric, and then spinning the empty spaces, ornamenting them with a large range of drawings.
● Once the workpiece is compiled, we proceed to the last stage:
➔ Final touch with the embroidery all over the edge of the piece.
➔ Washing the piece on the loom and sun drying
➔ Cutting the embroidery.
Canarian knitting was taught in workshops to students that used to start at a very young age. In this profession, there was that role of the delivery woman, or person whose business was to deliver the fabrics and designs to the knitters depending on the age and skill shown and also picking up the finished pieces for selling them.
Tipologies of canarian knitting
Most pieces manufactured by the knitters are associated with the “ropa de casa”, Spanish for household linen, which is the phrase commonly used to describe how these women would dress and decorate their houses. The ornamented parts of the knitted pieces are the edges and the center.
The stitches made have different names, depending on the shape and the place where the job gets done.
Some of those are: “coser y cantar” (sewing and singing), “redondel” (circle), “redondillo” (spanish slang for little circle shape), “for de tela” (fabric flower), “flor de almendro” (almendro flower), “galleta” (biscuit), “madrigal y fino” (spanish for type of short poem). Among the pieces elaborated with this technique we could find: cloths, quilts, bed sheets, towels, rugs, table runners, scarves, bread bags, curtains, kitchen aprons, blouses or clothing items of the traditional costume.
Tourism, Ethnographic Heritage, and Cultural Heritage City Council Departments
Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria
Tourism Board of Gran Canaria