The History Of Sirdar

Sirdar is a company with humble beginnings, deep family roots and a long standing commitment to quality and reliability.  Knitters are familiar with the trusted label- SIRDAR knitting made fashionable, but few of us know the entire story that has spanned one hundred and thirty years, the heritage that stands behind some of our favorite yarns and pattern leaflets. 

The original spinning mill was founded in 1880, in the tiny town of Ossett, England, by two brothers, Tom and Henry Harrap.  With a small handful of employees and a strong drive for success, the two brothers aimed high, producing good quality wool products and building a solid reputation.  A decade later, the company moved to its present location in Alverthorpe, a manufacturing district just outside of Wakefield.  It was Tom’s son, Fred who brought about the name change when he took over the helm in the 1930’s.  The new company name- Sirdar, was chosen in respect to Lord Kitchener and his appointment as Sirdar (Leader) of the Egyptian Army.  With his keen foresight, it was also Fred who re-directed the company to keep up with the changing times in England.  In the 1930’s Sirdar introduced handknitting yarns and pattern leaflets to the public.  By 1960, Fred’s daughter had joined the company and began to introduce patterns to the rest of the country through a new and popular format, women’s magazines.  The Sirdar label was now well on its way to gaining international recognition.  Lets take a glimpse into the archives, and follow the remarkable journey of Sirdar, a company well-trusted by knitters far and wide, as it has evolved from one decade into the next over the past one hundred and thirty years.   

Sirdar Vest 1930's

The pullover sweater made its debut in England during the 1930’s.  This was an era of thrift and recycling.  Sweaters were unravelled instead of being discarded, and the yarn was re-knit again and again.  Wool was harsh and scratchy, in a very fine fingering weight.  Cardigans, sweaters sets, and skirts were all popular knitted styles, and most clothing was knit by hand, not store-bought.

Sirdar Man's Vest 1940's

The 40’s brought about wartime knitting, colours were dark and sombre, women knit with what little wool was available.  The styles were refined and sensible, still in a fine fingering weight.  Socks were knitted for soldiers.  Handknit gloves and scarves became popular for women. 

Sirdar Vest 1950's

Sirdar knitting leaflets were now printed in full colour.  Double knitting weight yarns started to make an appearance.  During the 50’s, clothing items were knit for comfort and warmth.  The styles continued to be form fitting for both men and women.     

Sirdar Baby Set 1960's

 Acrylic yarns became increasingly popular in the 60’s.  A well-dressed baby was often seen in handknit leggings, coats, bonnets, and booties.  Children were taught how to knit in school during this time.  Ski sweaters with fairisle yokes became fashionable in England, and twin sets were in demand for women of fashion.

Sirdar 1970's

 In the 70’s, the styles loosened up, ponchos, capes, skirts, and wide leg pants were featured in knitting patterns.  Crochet became a huge trend in clothing and home decor.  Sirdar Snuggly and Wash n Wear  yarns emerged as strong sellers and have remained all-time favorites.  

Sirdar 1980's

 The 80’s introduced the first novelty yarns, and luxurious mohair sweaters became popular.  Handknitting was more about texture, sweaters became softer and fuller.  Dolman sleeves were the ‘in’ thing.

Sirdar 1990's

 The 90’s continued with a penchant for luxury knits.  Sweaters, cardigans and vests were now knit with ribbons and mohairs.  Picture knits became popular with children.  Favorite cartoon characters and animals soon appeared on the front of pullovers. 

Sirdar Flirt 2010

Over the last ten years, we have watched knitting rise to great heights in the media and fashion spotlight.  The introduction of novelty yarns like Funky Fur and Foxy caused an exciting phenomenon as new knitters emerged from the wings.  Self-striping yarns grabbed our attention with their magic and have kept us enthralled ever since with constantly changing colourways.   The environment has guided us gently in a new direction and eco-friendly yarns emerged.  These yarns have made a huge impact and continue to develop.  With more than three hundred published designs each year, and over nine hundred shades of yarn in their current collection, Sirdar continues to lead us forward, keeping practical fashion and durability at the forefront. 

14 Responses to “The History Of Sirdar”

  1. wendy l. says:

    Wow! what a step back in time. Lovely to see the changes in styles over the years. Get a look at that army vest and cap! Sirdar has never been anything but reliable, I have been knitting with this yarn since the 70’s. The patterns are comprehensive and the styles are flattering to everyone.
    Wendy L.

  2. KNITTYPURL73 says:

    WHAT A GREAT READ…..I HAD NO IDEA HOW LONG AGO SIRDAR STARTED AS A COMPANY, THEY JUST KEEP GOING STRONG. SIRDAR YARNS HAVE SET A GOOD STANDARD FOR KNITTERS, I HAVE HAD SOME ISSUES IN QUALITY WITH OTHER YARNS BUT NOT WITH SIRDAR.

  3. Kathleen H. says:

    Hi, I just had to share this, Sirdar yarns are remarkably long-lasting, my daughter’s Snuggly baby knit cardigan, a gift from a relative, is now being worn by her daughter.
    I am really thrilled to come across this new Blog site.
    There are a variety of things to read about and I appreciate the free patterns.
    Thanks.

  4. muriel says:

    Sirdar is my all-time favorite for baby knits, there are hundreds of patterns to choose from. I hope they never run out of ideas.

  5. Linnea B says:

    Just wanted to say you have a great site and thanks for posting!

  6. Mary says:

    I will be including this to my listing of social book marks.

  7. Kawartha Yarns says:

    Here in Lindsay, we LOVE Sirdar yarns!!! They have consistenly the best pattern support. Thanks for the lovely story. With the support of discriminating knitters, we’ll keep Sirdar going for another 100 years!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Great post, thank you so much for sharing.

  9. L. Randzin says:

    A great company profile! For sure one of the all-time leaders in the industry.

  10. P F. says:

    Thank you for another informative blog. I have a Sirdar project that I am just now working on, and I am really pleased with the yarn.

  11. Doug C. says:

    I greatly enjoyed this post about the history of one of my favorite yarn companies- Sirdar. As a British knitter, I have used these yarns for many of my projects. So has my mother who actually taught me to knit with an old ball of Sirdar Wash n Wear DK. Always a reliable product for sure, wash after wash.

  12. B. L. says:

    I really liked your blog post . Good read. I will be back again to read more about knitting and the different fibres.

  13. O. McTavish says:

    Very informative, I am a big fan, thanks for sharing.

  14. Greta B says:

    Schöne page. Danke!

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