Wednesday 26 February 2014

Mary Maxim

My sister has given me a cutting from the Daily Telegraph of 12th February about twin brothers Mike and Patrick Davies who are still wearing the cardigans that their mother knitted for them in 1959 when they were 15 - you can see the story here from the Daily Mail's online site.

The cardigans are in thick wool with pictorial designs on them; one has a design of yachts and the other has buffalo.  The article says that the wool was Canadian, though bought in Neath in South Wales.   I am sure that they are Mary Maxim designs  - Mary Maxim was (and is) a Canadian yarn company that started in the 1950s.  The company specialised then in hand-knit designs for thick jackets with zip fronts and designs based on Canadian wildlife, sports and similar outdoors-y themes.  They exported the wool and patterns to the U.K. in the late 1950s, and we have around 60 Mary Maxim patterns in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection.  We don't have either of the patterns for the Davies's cardigans, but we do have an actual cardigan in the "Yachts" design. 

Mary Maxim "Yachts" cardigan
Our example is knitted in black, red and cream rather than cream/fawn mix, dark brown and tan like Patrick Davies'.  Another difference is that our cardigan has set-in sleeves and his has raglan sleeves - Mary Maxim patterns came with instructions for both. 

Yachts cardigan - back detail

Mary Maxim patterns of that era are very distinctive - they were all printed on matte card, in a tall narrow format and in a uniform colour scheme.   Two more are shown below, with designs of reindeer and wild duck.  They are quite attractive if you like pictorial knitwear, and they are clearly very hard-wearing, as the Davies brothers' cardigans show. I do have some hand-knits that I am still wearing after 40 years or so - I can't match their (nearly) 55 years yet, though.  

Mary Maxim no. 400 Reindeer
Mary Maxim no. 401 Wild Duck


  1. any idea where I could buy the "yacht" pattern?

  2. Hi Bev, I've just checked the Mary Maxim website ( - they sell some vintage patterns. I couldn't see that one exactly, though there is a children's version called Sailing Time. But they might be able to help you.

  3. Thanks Barbara, I actually found it on Etsy...BusyBeaverBoutique.


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