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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Botany Saxatones Yarn, Art. 251

For this post, let's go all the way back to 1944, nearing the end of World War II.   Wool was still in scarce supply, however, some brands were beginning to re-introduce wool based yarns to market for uses 'other than' military knitting. 

 The first newspaper advertisement, interestingly enough, appeared in in Des Moines, IA.   There were several other ads that appeared during 1944 / 1945, but overall a very sparse product introduction.    (no doubt, due to the wool shortage)
About the yarn .... 
Botany Saxatones - 100% Pure Virgin Wool 
Lightweight 3-ply yarn for sweaters and skirts.  
Introduced in 2-oz skeins, and later 1-oz skeins.  

In 1946, wool was again readily available for mainstream knitting and the re-introduction of Botany Saxatone commenced.   The yarn, in 2-oz skeins, sold for 70 cents (same the the 1944 price).    It is described as a Saxony type yarn (A fine grade of woolen yarn twisted somewhat harder and smoother than a Zephyr yarn).  

In 1947, Botany added kits to their line of products.   The kits were delivered to yarn shops for sell to the knitters.  The kit included "matching Botany flannel" for the skirt part of the kit.  


Sales continued strong into the 1950's.   This 1954 advertisement "Ideal for stoles, socks, sweaters and sportswear".   The color line has been extended to 'over' 40 colors. 

By the end of the 1950's, sales apparently began to decline.   Now, whether this was due to declining interest in the yarn, or Botany Brand emerging into the Fleishers/Bear Brand, I've not yet investigated.   But, in the early 1960's, the promotions stopped.   

Although there were no pattern books issued directly for Botany Saxatone Yarn, it was included in a fair number of other promotional books, as well as featured in several of the women' needlework magazines.   There are a few of these patterns in the shop, should you care to browse.   Finding a substitute yarn should not be difficult.  You are looking for a 3-ply lightweight saxony or fingering yarn that meets the pattern stitch for the pattern.  

Thanks for dropping by, 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Bernat Astrakhan Yarn

And, just was does Astrakhan mean?   Well, it's the dark curly fleece of young Karakul Lambs from central Asia.

Like this one ... who lives in the Akron, OH zoo.  

And from the most delightful Astrakhan lamb, plus a lot of cutting, processing and color, came this Bernat Astrakhan Yarn.

60% virgin wool and 40% mohair (from the Angora goat)
2-oz skeins at 120 yards each, medium weight
Boucle - Newest looped texture for smart jackets, sweaters and coats

Bernat introduced their Astrakhan yarn to the market mid 1960, with the usual 'on-sale' fan-fair.

"Knit an ultra sophisticated Chanel type jacket or an outstanding sweater from these quality yarns at a fraction of the cost if you bought them already made up" states this 1962 newspaper promotion.    Just go to the local yarn shop, purchase Astrakan yarn and receive the pattern(s) free.

And, of course, there were a number of kits, starting in 1963, delivered to the yarn shops for sale to customers to further promote the yarn and add a 'convenience' to the customer ... everything you need, but the needles!   This marvelous sheath kit was offered in early 1967.

Patterns featuring this yarn also appeared in needlework magazines (available in shops and on stands) as well in a couple of the Bernat Mohair centered pattern books; No 195 - Mohair Book, No 118 - Mohair Collection; No 249 - Mohair Plus Knitting Patterns.

And the promotions and sales continued on until the yarn was discontinued in 1971. 

Now, there's a fair number of patterns calling for this yarn -- There are a several in the shop should you care to browse.     A substitute yarn should not be difficult to find.  You'll want a  boucle type mohair/wool blend that meets your pattern stitch.   (And, I'm sure you'd love to go to the yarn shop to search it out!),

Thanks for dropping by,

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Bernat Mohair Plus Yarn

Bernat produced a number of fine mohair yarns for the textile artist to explore and create.  Today, let's talk their Mohair Plus brand.

The official Patent was issued November 1964,although the yarn was actually released to the market in 1963 with the advertising blitz in newspapers going full force across major city markets in the United States by the local yarn shops.  

66% mohair, 17% virgin wool, 17% nylon
1-1/2 oz balls (pre-brushed), 103 yards each

Note:  This yarn makeup is the same as Bernat Mohairspun, with the difference being the Mohair Plus is pre-brushed.   In many patterns, they are shown as interchangeable or combined for effect.  

This 1964 advertisement was one of the first.   Interesting that the same ad is placed in different markets, which, I assume means, they are syndicated through Bernat.   Ie, Bernat supplies the suggested advertisements with the yarn deliveries to the individual shops.  (Perhaps there is some type of contract agreement to ensure the promotion).    Also note that the yarn is 'on-sale' at point of introduction.   Another marketing tactic I'm sure.

This 1965 advertisement shows the Mohair Plus was originally produced in a balled shaped, versus the elongated skein.
Another highly successful ploy of Bernat' was the knit.  There were, at least, 10 different kits sold that featured the Mohair Plus yarn.    This particular kit -- Fluffi Tote Coat, in six fascinating colors, was very popular and marketed for several years.  The kits were available through the yarn shops as well.

The kits supplied everything but the knitting talent and the needles!   In this particular kit - for raglan mohair sweater - two variations of the pattern were given.

And, of course, there were a number of pattern books featuring not just Mohair Plus, but the other popular Bernat mohair yarn for this time period - Mohairspun.    This photo is the inside cover to the The Mohair Collection, Handicrafter Book 118.

In the late 1970s, Bernat apparently paired up with Judy Love of the then popular Stitchin' Times newspaper column.   The column, on a number of instances did complete columns of patterns featuring the Mohair Plus Yarn.  In these cases, 'Stitchin' Times' had patterns for the garments displayed that could be mailed away for.   Although sold under the name of Stitchin Times, there's no doubt that these designs were Bernat.

And promotions and sales continued until 1974, when the yarn was discontinued.  (For a yarn with an original suggested price of $1.40, it grew quite nicely (for Bernat) to a price of  $5.50/skein. 

There are quite a few vintage patterns for Mohair Plus.   There are a few in my shop, should you care to browse.   A substitute yarn should not be difficult; pick a mohair blend that meets the pattern stitch gauge.

Should you make create one of these designs, please share a picture (and what materials you used)!

Thanks for dropping by,

Monday, March 19, 2018

Spinnerin Marvel Twist Knitting Worsted

Spinnerin introduced their Marvel Twist Yarn to the United States market in 1943 in limited supply.  This time period was nearing the end of World War II, and wool was still scarce for uses not related to Military knitting.
This 1943 newspaper advertisement is among the first promotions, offering the yarn in 4-oz skeins at $1.00 each in a choice of 13 colors.

Marvel Twist Knitting Worsted, Mothproofed, 100% wool
4 oz skeins at 275 yards
Substitute:   any 4-ply knitting worsted that meets the stitch gauge of the pattern

This 1951 advertisement increases the yarn promotion to include coats, sweaters and headwear.  The selection has greatly increased to 85 solid colors, 12 heather colors and 13 umbre colors.

In the late 1960's, technology changed the marketplace with 'Superwash', a fiber coating that allows the yarn to be machine washed without felting.  This change spurred the update of their label.

This highly prized yarn was featured in a number of Spinnerin pattern books for Afghans, Jackets, Pullovers, etc.  This book, Spinnerin 148, is featured in a blog post at Shop Talk.  It was a multi-use material that not only brought joy to the consumer, but profits to both Spinnerin and the individual yarn shops.
And, among the many newspaper advertisements, was the periodic promotional reminder that Knitting Worsted was for crochet as well ... as in the dress featured in this 1974. 

But, all things come to an end, and in 1975, Spinnerin discontinued production of their Marvel Twist yarn.   There, of course, was no announcement so buyers could stock-up, other than the typical .. Sale Pricing. 

I, of course, have a number of patterns for Spinnerin Marvel Twist Yarn in the shop, should you care to browse.

Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bernat Mohairspun Yarn

In the late 1950's / early 1960's, Mohair yarns were becoming quite popular with knitters for it's versatile and soft possibilities.   A bit of romantic allure on a skein of yarn.  

Bernat, being right in line with all  new market trends, introduced three Mohair yarns, the most successful being Mohairspun.  

Bernat, being one of the major yarn suppliers, was no exception, entering their Mohairspun to the market at the end of 1960 for a mere $0.79 per 1 ounce skein, without material makeup appearing in most advertisements - 66% (goat) mohair, 17% wool and 17% nylon.  This is a worsted weight yarn; 9 wpi.  

A couple pattern books were issued featuring the mohair line of yarns including The Mohair Collection  Book 118 one of the favorites.  Bernat also ran advertisements in needlework magazines, which also included several patterns (not featured in books)

Another (quite profitable) promotion were kits that contained everything (except the needles) to create a specific item.  Bernat put the kits together, which were delivered to the retail outlets for sale to the consumer.   At times, the kits could also be mail ordered.  

Retail yarn stores were supplied with Bernat patterns to give to customers 'free of charge', with the purchase of the yarn.  

But, sooner or later, all good yarns come to an end, and in mid 1969, Bernat began the process of discontinuing their Mohairspun yarn. 

There are a fair number of patterns calling for Bernat Mohairspun in the shop (should you care to browse), as well as out there in internet land that are well worth your time and expense.  It should not be difficult to find a replacement.   There are a number of current mohair yarns in the market; just match the gauge of your selected pattern.  

Thanks for dropping by, 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Nomotta Festive Yarn

Nomotta Festive Yarn was rather short-lived, but oh my ... what wonderful patterns were created to for it's use. 
Interestingly enough, this 1950 magazine advertisement, featuring a skein of Festive yarn, does not actually profile this yarn, just the brand itself.    The bits of information known ...

Nomotta, an import from Germany, was introduced to the United States market in 1950.   No pattern books (as was consistent for this time period), were published to promote sales, however, a patterns were offered in magazines where Nomotta promoted their yarn.

"Fine quality crepe twist yarn of 100% virgin wool, 2-ply.  One oz skeins (195 yards) in a choice of twenty colors.  Typical gauge:  8 sts = 1 inch

The first newspaper advertisement (that I've been able to find) from 1955, listed the selling price at $0.65 per skein.

The last advertisement at 3 for a $1.00.   I'd assume this highly discounted price the result of the yarn being discontinued. 

It's hard to say if the lack of success on Festive Yarn due to the quality.  It's just as likely the result of poor promotion on the part of the distributors.   Only Nomotta know!

I have a couple of patterns in the shop that call for Nomotta Festive, if you'd care to browse and have no doubt there will be a few more as I continue working through the old magazines.   If you decide on a pattern that calls for this yarn, I'd suggest any lightweight dress yarn that meets the 8 sts to 1" gauge.

Thanks for dropping by. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Carol Curtis Needlework Service

The Carol Curtis Needlework Corner was the creation of the Peerless Pattern Syndicate.  (Peerless Fashion Service, Inc).  This service, through the 30's and 40's, ran several other pattern columns with an emphasis on sewing patterns.  This advertising column, I'd assume, was their effort at gaining some of the popularity (and sales, of course), being enjoyed by the Readers Mail Syndicate which featured Laura Wheeler, Alice Brooks and Anne Cabot.

The 'by Carol Curtis' service began in 1951 to a very limited market - Northern California only and stopped in April 1952; later resuming.

The pattern advertisement appeared in the paper, and the reader would send their 25 cent payment to purchase the pattern.   In this case, the address goes to a New York P.O. box.   The patterns themselves with oversized - 20 x 16 inches.  When charts were offered, this oversize made them easy to use.

The pattern would be received, typically in two to four weeks, in a brightly colored envelope.

Within the first year, a catalog was issued which could be purchased for an additional 25 cents.  The 20 page catalog listed the 'more popular' of the Carol Curtis patterns.   Only one catalog was issued.  This catalog was the only 'customer' reference to the Peerless Fashion Service.

The Carol Curtis Needlework service ran the usual pattern offerings; sewing, embroidery, knit and crochet, along with a couple offerings of hairpin lace.

This was (to my knowledge), the only pattern service that also issued 'How-To' Guides for each of the arts their patterns covered. 

The Peerless syndicate took their advertising approach a step further than the other Mail Order Companies of the time.   A portion of each pattern page was a showing / offering of other current patterns in the same type.  A mini-catalog you might say. 

The pattern service continued until January 1956, and then stopped without a word.  A search of knit and crochet patterns for the time period, 1951 through 1956 found  114 patterns released.  Far more of the patterns were crochet than knit.  The majority of the patterns were easy designs for potholders, mats, doilies.  There are a couple splendid filet crocheted patterns.   This was never a National syndicate; the ads appearing in less than 20 states.

There are a few of the patterns in the shop, should you care to browse, with a number more waiting to be processed.  Sometime, in the near future, I'll pull the advertising pictures and set-up a Facebook album. 

If you know more about Carol Curtis, or are willing to share patterns that you might have, please let me know.   Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Marian Martin Crochet Patterns, Mail Order Designs

I have three Mail Order Design patterns in my collection that are in the 9000 number series.  Now, I know that Alice Brooks patterns are in the 7000 number series, so assume these three random patterns were, perhaps, typo errors on the part of Readers Mail.

Well, today, while researching the first of these patterns for entry to the shop, I discovered how incorrect I was. 

This pattern, is a quite nice crocheted jacket  with raglan sleeves, collar, patch pockets and contrast trim.   It is on the 'special side', in that it is sized for the larger woman - from 12-1/2 to 22-1/2.  Design 9079 is available in the shop, should you be interested.

I then headed over to Google-land, to search for the pattern description and received quite a surprise.

Design pattern 9079 was marketed as a Marian Martin Design.   Now, Marian Martin was part of the Readers Mail family, however, distributed sewing patterns .... all in the 9000 number series.  I pulled out the other two patterns to look for common factors.

Okay, it appears that crochet patterns were issued under the Marian Martin name when combined with a sewing pattern offer.   In this example, the offer is a sewing pattern for a woman's suit - jacket, shell and skirt, with an added bonus.   A crochet version of the jacket as well.   A combination pattern.  The other two were similar ... a dress and jacket, etc.   Another example of this is Marian Martin 9410 - a two piece dress and crochet shell stitch topper.

There's still a bit that I've not figured out however is how they came together.  All three hardcopy patterns I have are crochet only; with no reference to sewing.    Whereas the advertisement does not indicate the sewing and crochet pattern are separate items. 

Yet another item to my 'I wonder' list about these mail order patterns.   Perhaps you know more about Marian Martin Crochet Patterns. 

Thanks for dropping by,

Monday, March 5, 2018

National Knitting Contest of 1936

The year is 1936, Franklin Roosevelt is President, the Great Depression is nearing the end (1939), employment is up 16% and the country appreciated those 'little diversions' to get their minds off the troubles.   It was a great time for a 'National Contest"

The advertisements began in newspapers in January 1936.  The sponsor of the event is the Warner Brothers - Motion Picture Movie Classic Magazine.  In the smaller print, you'll see the co-sponsor is Bucilla Yarn.   In later ads, this was expanded to include the co-brands of Fleisher's and Bear Brand.  The ads appeared in major metro areas across the United states, as well as the magazines. 

Contest details were slowly released ... building excitement and momentum.  This early February ad let's the potential participants know they had to buy a copy of Motion Picture - Move Classic Knitting Book for 25 cents.   (Unfortunately, I've not been able to locate a photo of the book)

(From other newspapers articles):

  • The National Knitting Contest may be entered by anyone who will choose a pattern from the Motion Picture - Movie Classic Knitting Book, which sold for 25 cents on newsstands.  
  • Yarns of the Fleishers Trademark must be used. 
  • There will be 6 judges, which include Mrs. James Roosevelt - the President' mother.  
  • First Prize, an all expense paid trip to Hollywood ... and lots of other things.  

The excitement continues to mount in the various newspaper ads.  Realize the dream of a lifetime!  Knit (and wear) the smart fashions of Hollywood actresses.  The newspapers ads are published by the yarn shops selling the yarn, of course. 

Various columns were published showing the possible outfits.   In this case, the knitter could obtain the pattern for free by mailing to publisher .... however, that was not entry to the contest.

This late March advertisement reminded "Don't wait another minute".  Through the month of April, small ads continued reminding knitters .... only 2 weeks left, one 3 days left, etc.   The contest ended on April 30th.

Now, I've not seen much information on how the participants submitted their items for judging (perhaps one day), just they had to enter in advance and supply labels for the materials used.  The contest ended on April 30th, and the judging took place on May 1st in New York City.
Now, interestingly enough, I've not located a single newspaper that printed out the winners as a whole.  Perhaps this is because the individual shops paid for the advertisements, and they had no need to spend the money.   I did, however, find a couple articles in regional patterns about a couple winners.

First Prize:  Mrs. C.R. Goudie of Great Falls, MT.  All all expense trip for a week in Hollywood.

Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor wins third place and receives a Mendoza Fur Coat  

And that was that.   Bucilla/Fleishers no doubt experienced a large surge in shop orders, as well as an opportunity to introduce new yarns to the market.  The individual shops sold more than the norm in yarn.  The Movie Magazines experienced a large increase, albeit temporary, in sales, and who knows, perhaps gained a few new subscribers.

The contest promotion was not repeated in 1937.   I've placed a couple Google alerts and hope, one day, to be able to come back and post the pattern booklet.

Thanks for dropping by.