Monday, 18 March 2013

1909 Knitting Yarns

I  have been looking through some magazines that date from about 1907 to the early 1920s, covering mostly crochet, with some knitting.  It is fascinating to see the ads, especially for knitting wools.  Three companies in particular advertised regularly in the earliest of the magazines:  Baldwin's, Paton's and Faudel's.   Paton's & Baldwin's merged in 1920, and still exist (although now the name is just Patons) - Faudel's disappeared in the 1930s, I think. 

The Faudel's ad is useful because it gives a long list of all the wools that they produced at that time (1909).  It doesn't describe the yarns that they were producing in terms that we would use now, because there was no standardised way of referring to different yarn thicknesses then - 4-ply describes how the yarn was spun, not how thick it was.  (Although 4-ply Peacock Fingering was presumably twice as thick as a 2-ply Peacock Fingering.)  Even so, the list of possible uses of each yarn gives some idea of thickness.

It's interesting that they were producing a yarn described as double knitting, to be used for jerseys, sweaters and jackets.  They describe it as combining the qualities of fingering and worsted.  Nowadays, double knitting yarn is between fingering (aka 4-ply) and worsted (aka Aran) in thickness.  But I don't think we can assume that there's an exact match between what we now call double knitting and what Faudel's meant by it - I guess that they were at least close, though. 

Some of the uses are slightly odd, like Homespun: "A yarn for Deep Sea Mission and Charity purposes."    The Deep Sea Mission is presumably the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen, that I wrote about in a post on knitting in the First World War.  Here, I suppose that the Peacock Homespun is a cheap hard-wearing wool that you wouldn't knit for yourself or your family, and it's nothing to do with being waterproof. 

Another nice list of uses is for Ice Wool:  "Now used for Fascinators, Motor Wraps, Scarves, Shawls and Clouds."  (I think that someone at the In the Loop conference, who is researching into Shetland lace knitting, was trying to find out exactly what a knitted cloud was,  but I haven't found a pattern for one yet.)   A Fascinator, by the way, was nothing like what we call a fascinator (except that it goes on your head). Below is an illustration from a pattern for one, knitted in Ice Wool and Faudel's Glace Chenille  (not mentioned in the list above, so in spite of all the varieties named, it was not complete).  

A Fascinator, 1908

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