Monday 4 September 2023

A Novel Wool Winder


John saw this issue of Hobbies Weekly from September 1940 at a collectors' fleamarket, and bought it for me because of the illustration of a Novel Wool Winder on the front cover (he is not, I'm glad to say, a keen fretworker).  It's now in the collection of the Knitting & Crochet Guild.  

I wouldn't call it a wool winder, in fact  in the photo, it's the woman who is doing the winding.   We would now call it a swift, though perhaps that wasn't a term then in use, or maybe a skein holder.  Never mind.    

The magazine explains to its readers why this is a useful thing to make: "Every knitter  and this, of course, relates more to ladies  knows the trouble of getting somebody to hold the skein whilst it is turned off into a ball suitable for their own use.  The more independent knitters who use the back of a chair for the same purpose also have cause to complain." (Not sure why  I use the back of a chair, and it works.) 

The arms of the holder can be closed up to save space, fortunately. 

The magazine says: "When complete and nicely finished with stain, polish or paint, the article is worth a great deal more than it costs to make, and will be most acceptable to any ardent knitter.  Or, of course, it is just the thing to complete for a Sale of Work, or for private sale to those who are or are likely to be busy knitting comforts for the Services."   

I'm not sure how well it would work in practice.  The skein of wool has to be put on the holder when it is at least partly closed, so that the skein will fit on, and then moving the arms so that they are at right angles — as far as I can tell from the instructions, the design relies on friction between the two arms to keep them in position, which doesn't seem a very robust approach.  But it seems that whoever bought this magazine in 1940 did make the wool winder, because the promised paper pattern sheet to make it is no longer in the magazine.  The pattern would need to be cut up and glued onto the wood, before cutting the pieces to shape with the fretsaw, and I assume that's what happened.   

The reference to knitting comforts for the Services is a reminder that Britain had been at war with Germany for a year by September 1940.  Elsewhere in the magazine there are instructions for making a "safe and simple shelter lantern", i.e. a lantern for the Anderson Shelter in your garden. "A light of some kind is very essential in an air-raid shelter as it is no joke sitting in such places in the pitch darkness.  The most suitable and safe form of light seems to be the humble candle.  For this reason, a candle lantern, suitable for shelter use, has been designed".  

It's made of wood, of course, with glass panels in the side, and a candle holder made from a piece of tin. Maybe safer than an uncovered candlestick, but not much, I think.  

There are also instructions for making an ash tray, decorated with a fretwork elk, from one of the small glass jars used for meat paste. Misplaced ingenuity, it seems to me, but then if you have to find several new ideas for fretwork every week, it isn't surprising that some of the designs are a bit daft. 


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