There used to be wool advisors. They sat in shops and stores to advise women about wool and color choice. How fantastic is that?! They sound quite a bit like our modern day yarn shop owners. This film, Knitting Pretty c.1955, can be seen in the Yorkshire Film Archive and is of a knitting advisor giving her advice about how to best pick wools for a garment. Please do take the time to watch it – you will be delighted!
If time is short, have no fear! I’ve written up my favorite lessons and quotes from the film below:
On style: Crepe yarn retains shape but gives fine appearance for when you want it to look nice but be hard wearing.
On preparation: Wind wool loosely to help it knit up well.
On technique: Knit with your right needle under your arm for even tension. When watching the film, this quirky advice is clearly because they are using a method of knitting known as “Irish Cottage Knitting.” If you are an English or Continental knitter, this advice is not for you!
On men: “Men secretly like a bit of finery. And pullovers give them the chance.”
On wearing: “There is a sweater for every occasion.” Riding horses, playing cricket, and gardening. To name a few. And repelling down cliffs, apparently. I love how the people in the video are wearing sweaters of occasions that no one would ever dream of wearing a beautiful, hand-knit garment to nowadays.
On washing: “If water is too hot for the hands, it is too hot for the garment.” Put the garment in warm soapy water, but don’t let the garment become too dirty before washing it. “For heaven’s sake, don’t rub it! Never lift it out of the water because it will stretch it.” Work the soap through gently with the hands for 1-2 minutes, and then lift it out gently. Rinse it by filling the sink with clean water of the same temperature. For the final rinse, add a few drops of vinegar to help keep the color. “Always take pains with the washing.”
On drying: lay your garment out flat on a clean town, and roll and press to get out the water. This method is to prevent it from stretching, which is what will happen if you hang it. After you roll it, lay it on a clean towel and cover with paper. They never do tell why the paper…
On cost: Choose you wools by “fitness of purpose, not of price.”
On quality: “When you think of the time and skill you spend on knitting, not to mention money, well, it is so worthwhile to use the best wool.”