I have written about my enjoyable trip to the Knitting and Crochet Guild archive here and here, focusing on the garments that we were shown. As well as garments the archive holds books, needles, magazines, yarn charts, gadgets and many, many patterns. I was very excited to get the chance to look at some of the patterns that were part of the Patons and Baldwins archive which the Guild now holds.
There are folders full of amazing knitting patterns like this fabulous butterfly outfit. I think this may be a swimming costume with a skirt and long line cardigan to match. I was almost drooling at some of the patterns and I hope that I will find them out in the wild one day. Imagine a wardrobe full of these beauties!
If you are not a knitter there is no need to stop reading right here as knitting patterns are also brilliant source material for fashion history. Obviously, people wanted to knit fashionable garments so knitting patterns followed the variations in fashions. So in these knitting patterns you can see many 1930's traits: big sleeves, bows, interesting necklines, geometry, chevrons, colour blocking, yokes.
Knitting patterns are also a good way to see how clothing was styled, to see what normal people rather than film stars wore and to see glimpses of skirts, accessories etc. They are also a good source of hairstyle inspiration!
Patons and Baldwins was formed in 1920 by the merger of two wool companies, John Paton, Son and Company from Alloa, Scotland and J&J Baldwin and Partners from Halifax, West Yorkshire. They focused on producing wool for home knitters and knitting pattern support to go with it.
By the 1930's the company had factories and buildings across Scotland and the North of England and also in Canada and New Zealand!
I have read somewhere that P&B owned an angora rabbit farm which would explain why they produced many angora patterns between the 1930's and 1950's.
After the Second World War P&B decided to build a new, modern and efficient factory in Darlington. It even had it's own railway siding for speedy transport. The factory was complete by 1951 and was the largest wool factory in the world! It became a tourist attraction, I would have loved to have looked around. Find out more here and here and here.
this 1950's cardigan that I knitted.
Patons and Baldwins merged with Coats in 1961. Patons wool is still available to buy.
I want nearly all of these marvellous knits! The 1930's is not the period that I am first drawn to fashion wise, though it is growing on me now that I look into the fashions more and more. I think I was maybe put off by all the slinky, bias cut evening gowns which I would look a total horror in but when looking at everyday clothes I see fashions that I would like to try.
Luckily, this is not the end of the 1930's knitted gorgeousness as part two is on it's way!