|Emu Knitpat no. 5|
I mentioned a few weeks ago here that I had been sorting some Emu pattern leaflets at Lee Mills, while looking for patterns designed by Mary Quant. In the process, I sorted all the earliest Emu leaflets, that date from the 1940s. (Not that I expected to find a Mary Quant design, but they have to be sorted some time.)
I don't know what the history of Emu yarns is, but the leaflets we have appear to be the earliest that they issued (we have leaflet No.2, though not No. 1). It seems an odd time to launch a new range of patterns - there were paper shortages then, as well as clothes rationing, and so the leaflets are only half the size of the later Emu leaflets (about 13.5 cm x 21 cm., or 5.25 x 8.25 inches).
Many of the designs are very attractive. No.5 (above) is my favourite - 1940s jumpers and cardigans often have exaggerated square shoulders, but this one has a more or less natural shoulder line. Like several of the leaflets, it has an editorial piece from Janet Minton - the name was given as the source of customer advice on Emu patterns until at least the 1960s. On pattern no. 5, she says 'This Jumper-Cardigan is an exclusive Anthony Walden design. Fashion points to note are the effective contrast of classic square neckline, emphasized by a moss-stitch band, with the delicate flower-stitch pattern and clever crochet buttons. Knit it in "Emu" Botany Fingering and it will emerge perfect after every washing.' It was very unusual at that time to name the designer of a pattern - several of the other Emu patterns from the 1940s were also designed by Anthony Walden, but I can't find out anything about him (i.e. Google doesn't know).
|Emu Knitpat No. 27|
|Emu Knitpat no. 59|
We have about 75 of these Knitpat leaflets in the collection at Lee Mills. They reflect the necessities of rationing - making clothes out of small quantities of yarn, knitting warm vests, gloves and socks because fuel was also in short supply. A reminder of a time when knitting wasn't a hobby - women had to knit, to make the clothing coupons go further, and they did their best to be fashionable too.