Purchased at a Salvation Army Thrift Store in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. A knitting pattern for a tie.Scrolll right for instructions.
travelled to Atlanta by Greyhound bus from Nashville then took a cab from
the station to a downtown chain hotel, where the room smelt damp despite
the brand. At night, after a day of fierce wet heat, I would swim in the
hotel pool but it was an eerie and lonely activity.
One thunderous day, I went to an outer district with a contemporary art space. It started to rain heavily just as I got off the bus, so I ran into a Salvation Army thrift-store for shelter. In a basket of odd yarn, there was a solitary skein of American cotton which had been spun at Lily Mills. It was discoloured in patches from being exposed to the sun, perhaps it had lain in a shop window for a very long time. I bought it.
The graphic design of the paper label binding the mercerised yarn was exquisite, printed in black, white and bronze. The tail of the stylish "y" in "Lily" bloomed into a beautifully drawn flower..
Lily was one of very many mills which flourished in the cotton boom. In 1881, Atlanta had hosted The International Cotton Exposition, which came to occupy a significant place in the history of Southern cotton production. The Exposition had galvanized the new industrial ambitions of the South, in tune with the period known as Reconstruction; the aftermath of the Civil war and the abolishment of slavery.
Emancipated African Americans were barred from working in the new southern cotton mills right up until the late 1950s.The cotton continued to be farmed, picked, loaded and transported by black people but the mighty economic advantages of spinning and weaving at an industrial scale were monopolised by whites to employ only whites.
In 1896,Warren C. Coleman, a black North Carolina businessman called on his fellow black Southerners to support his plan to build a cotton mill that would be operated by black workers. He said;
"Will our colored people not catch the spark of the new industrial life?"
The Lily Mill had operated in Shelby, North Carolina. A woman called Mrs. Davis met her husband while working there. Mrs. Davis was part of the Lily Mill Women's Club.The group traveled to the World's Fair in New York City in 1964 and then to Montreal for EXPO in 1967, the mill paid for these trips.
Lily Mills was also a longtime supplier and supporter of the famous Penland Craft School in North Carolina. Weaving students from Penland often took class trips to the mill. In 1947, Penland was turning students away for lack of educational facilities, so Lily Mills gave $20,000 which covered half the cost of the Lily Loom House. The Lily Loom House is still a feature of the school to this day.
When the rain stopped, I walked the short distance to the gallery. It was closed. I decided on the bus back downtown that I would knit a tie from the Lily cotton. I think this was because I had spent days absorbed in photographs of very dignified and elegantly dressed people from the history of the Civil Rights Movement. I took the Amtrak train back to New York City the next day and bought thin knitting needles.
Mandy McIntosh 2005
© Ham and Enos 2005. All rights reserved.This garment may be made and/or adapted by anyone. Not for commercial purposes.If you experience any difficulty with this pattern please email email@example.com. If you do make it, we would love to see a picture of your version.
Worn here by Alain Augère. Thank-you.
Research for this project originally supported by Scottish Arts Council.Featured in Knit Knit New York and the Low Grade exhibition at Futuresonic 2005.