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Sweater - One/Two

One/Two

  • Object:

    Sweater

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1971 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Ross, Mike, born 1936 (designer)
    Hughes, Patrick, born 1939 (artist)
    The Ritva Man (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Machine-knitted acrylic, partly machine-embroidered and appliquéd

  • Museum number:

    CIRC.184-1972

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Ritva and Mike Ross were part of the vibrant art, fashion and music scene of ‘60s and ‘70s London and they produced some of the most innovative knitwear of the period. Mike settled there after leaving the USA, attended a non-diploma course at the RCA in 1963-4, while Ritva came from Helsinki, and went to the London School of Printing. She later became a model, and worked at Jane & Jane where Jean Muir was the designer. Ritva started her self-named company with Mike Ross in 1966, wholesaling to boutiques such as Annacat, Browns, and Countdown on the Kings Road.

Ritva, a self-taught knitter, designed and made samples of women's and children's wear. Her body-hugging garments included mini-dresses, skirts and even jumpsuits and her work was featured in magazines such as Nova, Harpers & Queen, and Life. Ritva knitwear used a variety of stitches including crochet, and different yarns: wool, silk, acrylic, in a range of colours. These were imported from France where they were produced in richer colours than those available in Britain. Outworkers knitted the garments using domestic knitting machines, and all were hand-finished in the Ritva workroom.

Mike began ‘The Ritva Man’ label in 1969, designing sweaters for his Hyde Park baseball team of American ex-pats. These ‘Home Run’ and ‘Strike Zone’ sweaters included appliquéd motifs, and lower sleeves of a different colour, inspired by the layered shirts worn by baseball players. After an article by Molly Parkin of The Times, the sweaters became fashion items in men’s boutiques like Blades and Michael John.

In 1971 Mike Ross asked artists Elizabeth Frink, David Hockney, Patrick Hughes and Allen Jones to design motifs for the first limited edition 'Artist Collection'. The sweaters incorporated an embroidered appliqué, translated from the original design under the guidance and approval of each artist in collaboration with Mike Ross. The sweaters were expensive at £40, or £782 today (based on average earnings, see www.measuringworth.com, accessed 20.7.12). Perspex box frames were also available so sweaters could be displayed when not being worn. Mike Ross worked with four other artists - Patrick Caulfield, Antony Donaldson, Ken Price and Richard Smith - to produce a second series in 1972, the same year that the Ritva shop opened at 8 Hollywood Road, off Fulham Road.

Mike Ross’s film and record business contacts lead to many sweater designs for films such as Clockwork Orange (1971) and The Shining (1980). The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel and The Doobie Brothers all had Ritva sweaters made in support of album tours. Although these were designed primarily as menswear, they had unisex appeal and were ordered and worn by celebrities such as Brit Eckland, Raquel Welch and John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The company closed in 1980.

Physical description

Sweater of multi-coloured machine-knitted acrylic with an embroidered panel appliquéd in the centre. The main body is in red with pale blue and purple sleeves.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1971 (made)

Artist/maker

Ross, Mike, born 1936 (designer)
Hughes, Patrick, born 1939 (artist)
The Ritva Man (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Machine-knitted acrylic, partly machine-embroidered and appliquéd

Marks and inscriptions

'THE Ritva MAN' [within a rectangle]
Main label embroidered in red, on the neck

'AN Original BY / THE RITVA MAN'
Label embroidered in black and red, above the main label

'100% ACRYLIC'
Label embroidered in blue, next to the main embroidered label in red

'MADE IN ENGLAND'
Label embroidered next to the main embroidered label in red

'43'
Label embroidered next to the main embroidered label in red

'36'
Size label next to the main embroidered label in red

'DRY CLEAN'
Label embroidered next to the main embroidered label in red

'PATRICK HUGHES'
Name tape label embroidered above the main embroidered label in red

'43.'
Embroidered in black on the nape of the neck

Object history note

Image for embroidered motif created by Patrick Hughes.

Descriptive line

Sweater 'One/Two' of multi-coloured machine-knitted acrylic from 'Artists' Collection', designed by Mike Ross, after a design by Patrick Hughes, made by The Ritva Man, England, 1971

Labels and date

'ARTIST' SWEATERS
Machine-knitted acrylic with embroidered appliqués designed by David Hockney, Patrick Hughes and Allen Jones.
British: Mike Ross for Ritva, 1971

'Wear it. Frame it. Hang it on the wall. Take it down. Wear it again. Leave it to someone in your will. Sell it for more than you bought it. For it is a very special sweater - a wearable work of art.' (Nova, November 1971) Four leading artists (the fourth was Elisabeth Frink) were asked to design motifs for Ritva's already popular multi-coloured sweaters. Each design was made in a limited edition of one hundred and fifty. They have long sleeves and round necks, are knitted in stocking stitch, and hemmed at the edges.

Circ.182, 183 & 184-1972 [1985]

Production Note

Designed by The Ritva Man (Mike Ross) in collaboration with Patrick Hughes.
Attribution note: 1 of 150

Materials

Acrylic

Techniques

Machine embroidery; Machine knitting

Categories

Fashion; Day wear; Men's clothes; Embroidery; Textiles

Production Type

Limited edition

Collection

Textiles and Fashion Collection

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