Wednesday, 3 October 2018

A Scarf in Springtime

Earlier this year, the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection was given several balls of a vintage yarn. They were donated by a Guild member who volunteers in a charity shop.  She bought the yarn when it was brought into the shop, because she thought it looked very old, and had never heard of the make - 'Wakefield Greenwood'.   But when she asked on the Guild Facebook group for information about the company, she was pointed to posts on this blog - I have been gathering information about Wakefield Greenwood for several years, because it was a local company.  She offered the yarn to the Guild collection, and we were delighted to accept it.

The brand name is 'Springtime' - a wool yarn that was made in several thicknesses.  This is 'laceply & tinsel' - very fine, as the name suggests, and composed of 75% botany (i.e. merino) and 25% tinsel.  I don't know what the tinsel is - some sort of metallic thread.

Wakefield Greenwood (aka W. G. Spinners) introduced their wool and tinsel yarn in 1953.  The Yorkshire Evening Post featured it in their report on the British Industries Fair in that year:
Wakefield, Greenwood and Company, Huddersfield, this year features wool with a sparkle.  Each strand is spun with tinsel thread, giving a "brilliant" effect to garments. Though this new product was introduced only eight weeks ago, substantial orders have already been received from European countries, South Africa, and Australia.  In the shops it will retail at about 3d. an ounce more than normal wool. 
We have about 200 Wakefield Greenwood pattern leaflets in the collection, and I looked for any that used this yarn.  Here's one that looks like the same black and gold colourway as our yarn.  It's in stocking stitch, and the pattern specifies a tension of 36 stitches and 52 rows to 4 in. (10 cm.) with size 12 (2.75mm.) needles.  I have knitted a stocking stitch swatch on size 12s and it makes a very nice fabric, with a lot of drape.

W. G. Leaflet 1021
Here's another evening blouse pattern, for the same yarn.  The lace pattern looks very complicated and the result looks almost not knitted.  Maybe I should try it.... 

W. G. Leaflet 1145

These two patterns are from later in the 1950s, but I did find a pattern for Springtime laceply that was advertised in 1953, when the tinsel yarn was introduced. 

W.G. Leaflet 152

According to the leaflet, you could make a short scarf, about 32 in. (81 cm.) long, with only one ½ oz. ball of Springtime laceply (i.e. without tinsel).  I decided to try it, to demonstrate what the yarn was like when knitted up.  I couldn't make a scarf of a sensible length from one ball, as it turned out, partly because the tinsel reduces the length in a ball, and also because I'm not very good at blocking.  So I used two balls - it's still quite a short scarf.  It's knitted on size 6 (4mm.) needles.  I found it absolutely impossible at first, because the only size 6 needles I could find were metal and very smooth -  their weight kept pulling them out of the stitches.  But then I found some bamboo needles of the right size and got on much better.  I put in lifelines, too, but didn't actually need them when I got the needles right.  

You can see that I haven't managed to stretch the lace pattern as much as in the pattern illustration.  In my defence, I think that the tinsel might possibly make it more resistant to blocking, maybe? 

I think it's much easier to relate to a vintage yarn if you can see something knitted in it that is also of the right era.  And now we have an example of something knitted in our 195os yarn to a 1950s pattern.  The scarf and some of the remaining balls of Springtime laceply and tinsel have already been in a trunk show of collection highlights last weekend, and will be included in future trunk shows too.  


  1. Hello! Thank you for writing your blog post, I was doing an internet search and found your blog. I found this yarn in a shop and bought the batch, I knew nothing about this company before your blog, the yarn I own is called Springtime Botany & Tinsel 3 Ply. Kind regards - Debrafide.

    1. Hi Debrafide. I'm so pleased that you found my blog post useful. What colour is your Springtime? If you can spare a small sample, it would be great to have it for the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection, along with the Springtime botany and tinsel laceply.


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