1950s knitting

thank you all for your kind words about the book! it’s so nice to have other people excited about it too.

so, on tuesday i went on a little celebratory shopping binge. it was not without purpose, i do need some more sweaters to recycle. however, there were other purposes: the first package off to the publisher, my knits in the little shop, ben’s TAship letter finally came, i stopped volunteering at the thrift store in order to be dedicated to getting my business off of the ground before we leave vancouver.

anyhow, true to form, i hit a couple of thrift stores. in one of them i happened upon some old knitting patterns. generally, i find 60s and 70s patterns which i sometimes buy and sometimes don’t, but these were from the late 1940’s early 1950’s and very exciting. i’m planning to share different parts of them with you and so without further ado, today you get my favorite ad of the bunch from this booklet © 1948 (check out the collar!). the second page/other half of the ad is here. so, just to place us in time, just post WWII in the baby boom era. safety, the suburbs, the family, getting back to regular life, reaffirming humanity via having babies were all very important.  in yarn production, this was 2 years before acrylics hit the market.

i love this ad! just the idea of these balding old scientists (note they’re all wearing glasses and balding!) cradling skeins of yarn. i know that yarn makes me that happy… but really! the scientists? they look like they’re having a truly eureka moment. they are jubilant. okay, okay, these skeins also wouldn’t make me that happy because they are skeins of nylon which isn’t used all that much anymore except in sock yarns and as a strengthener for other yarns (angora comes to mind). in the drawer where i found these patterns there were also some really old balls of yarn with the bands all washed out. nylon, perchance? it was stretchy and gross. i think i may have a old handknit skirt made out of it (i’ll share that soon).

i always wonder with all of these ‘amazing’ ‘new’ fibers which last and which don’t and why. i’m guessing they didn’t live up to their ads (we think everything’s a miracle when we first invent/discover it – i’m thinking iceberg lettuce YUCK! it’s a miracle, it never decomposes… wait a minute, it never decomposes…). along the same vein when they claim that nylon is nearly indestructible i think about whether i’d really want that on my body unless it was armor. perhaps texture and feel was another reason for its failing.  i can’t imagine that the stuff i saw in the thrift store would be nice to knit with.

here’s what Anne L. Macdonald has to say about nylon from No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting

“While nylon was acceptable for manufactured stockings and a few knitters bought it for Argyle knitting, die hards snapped, ‘Who on earth would knit with something made from coal?’ and worked in nylon only for toe and heel reinforcement.”

proof that there have been wise knitters throughout time… on another note, do you know what your synthetic fiber is made of? maybe liquefied wood (wait, you can’t technically liquefy wood…)…


the small text reads:

It’s here.  A vastly superior, different new 100% staple nylon hand-knitting yarn.  From the laboratories of C.I.L. has come a new and distinctive nylon fiber.  From the laboratories of Guelph has come this outstanding yarn.  We’re proud to have an opportunity to pioneer this far-reaching development.  Not only do the results measure up to our highest expectations, but Guelph nylon is priced surprisingly low.

3 thoughts on “1950s knitting

  1. Pingback: bernat diamond sock pack « cosymakes

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