Tuesday 9 August 2016


Today I was sorting some magazines in the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection and separating out surplus copies.  One of them was a Woolworth Knitting Magazine from 1976, and I was idly looking through it to see if there was anything of interest in it.  At that time, Woolworth's sold knitting yarns under their Winfield brand, as well as pattern leaflets, an annual knitting magazine, and  knitting needles, crochet hooks, buttons and other haberdashery.

The patterns in this magazine weren't very exciting, but an ad about metrication of knitting needles caught my eye.  Evidently, the old imperial sizes were just changing over to metric sizes at the time.

It essentially gives a conversion chart, with the old imperial sizes alongside the new metric sizes.  I doubt that the reassurance that "Tensions won't be affected, so you won't have to learn to knit again" was really necessary - changing needle sizes was very straightforward compared to the conversion of weights and measures that was happening at the same time.

Knitting yarn was already being sold in metric quantities, and I had forgotten that balls of yarn used to be much smaller than they are now.  From the quantities given in the patterns, Winfield yarns were sold in 20g and 25g balls, except for Aran wool, which was in 50g balls.  So a short-sleeved smock top took 22 balls of DK for the 36 in./91 cm. bust size.  I suppose that meant that you should have less than 25g left over when you had finished knitting, whereas I'm often left with most of a 100g. ball when I've finished a project.  But think of dealing with all those ends!    


  1. Memories! I was a Saturday girl in Woolworths in the late 60s/early 70s, working on the haberdashery counter - I don't remember selling wool, but we certainly had knitting needles and crochet hooks. I have this magazine and have made a couple of the baby cardigans. Perhaps I even made the striped cardigans in the 1970s on my new 4.00 needles!

  2. I think maybe wool was sold in smaller amounts for financial reasons? As a child in the fifties and sixties I lived in a small village, next door to a shop which sold wool amongst other things and a few doors away from the post office which also sold wool. I remember numerous occasions when ladies would say they could afford "1 ball of their wool" that week.

    1. That's possibly so. And of course, as you say, yarn shops did put aside wool for customers so that they could buy it a ball at a time, and that was clearly to make it easier financially.

  3. Thank you very much, amazing that shops used to put wool aside for their customers. Lisa.


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