Archive for the ‘Knitter’s Table’ Category

The History Of Sirdar

Monday, February 1st, 2010

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. 

Socks And Ladders

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Sock knitters quite often complain about Ladders, those annoying little spaces that occur between double pointed needles while knitting in the round.  This happens all too often with a tight tension, when the yarn is held taut from one needle change to the next and has no chance to relax into its natural shape. 

Here are three simple solutions to try-

Let the first stitch on each needle loosen up, and tighten only the second stitch. 

Change the arrangement of stitches on the needles, every two or three rounds, so there is no consistent line between needles. 

Take a break from stocking stitch and try a ribbed or textured sock pattern.  This blurs the ladder line considerably.

After a few washings those sock ladders will be next to invisible.  

If you have any helpful knitting tips to share with our readers, we would love to hear from you.   Please feel free to leave a comment.

100_0774For sock knitters who enjoy the transitioning colourways of Noro and crave a bit of rustic charm, this diagonal rib pattern gives a subtle textured effect.  Why not knit a pair to tuck in a special friend’s stocking this Christmas, or keep a pair for yourself in a secret cupboard to wear on weekends.   Wherever they end up, they will be in demand.

Noro Silk Garden Socks

Size:  Women’s Medium

Needles:  2.75 mm double pointed

Yarn:  100g ball Silk Garden Sock col # 268

Cast on 60 sts.  Divide sts evenly onto 3 needles.  Join in round.  Work in K2/P2 ribbing for 1″.  Cont in Pattern as follows-

Rnd 1-4:  K1, *P2, K2*, rep *to*, end with, P2, K1

Rnd 5-8:  *P2, K2*, rep *to*

Rnd 9-12:  P1, *K2, P2*, rep *to*, end with, K2, P1

Rnd 13-16:  *K2, P2*, rep *to*.  Rep these 16 rnds until work meas 7″.

Make Heel:  K across first 15 sts, turn, P across 30 sts, cont on these 30 sts only for Heel.

Row 1- *SL1, K1*, rep *to*

Row 2- SL1, P across row.  Rep these 2 rows until heel meas 2.5″ ending with WS facing.

Shape Heel:  P15, P2tog, P1, turn

Row 2- K3, SL1, K1, PSSO, K1, turn

Row 3- P4, P2tog, P1, turn

Row 4- K5, SL1, K1, PSSO, K1, turn

Row 5- P6, P2tog, P1, turn

Row 6- K7, SL1, K1, PSSO, K1, turn

Row 7- P8, P2tog, P1, turn

Row 8- K9, SL1, K1, PSSO, K1, turn

Row 9- P10, P2tog, P1, turn

Row 10- K11, SL1, K1, PSSO, K1, turn

Row 11- P12, P2tog, P1, turn

Row 12- K13, SL1, K1, PSSO, K1, turn

Row 13- P14, P2tog, P1, turn

Row 14- K15, SL, K1, PSSO, K1, turn = 16 sts

Shape Instep:  With RS facing, pick up and K 15 sts along side of Heel, cont in Pattern St across 30 sts from holder, pick up and K 15 sts along opposite side of Heel, K across 8 sts.  Divide sts- 23 sts on 1st needle, 30 sts on 2nd needle, 23 sts on 3rd needle = 76 sts.

Rnd 1- K to last 3 sts of 1st needle, K2tog, K1, work in Pattern across 2nd needle, K 1st st of 3rd needle, SL1, K1, PSSO, K to end of needle.

Rnd 2- Work in Pattern as set.  Rep these 2 rnds until 60 sts remain.  When Sock meas 7″ from Heel-

Shape Toe:  Divide sts as follows- 15 sts on 1st needle, 30 sts on 2nd needle, 15 sts on 3rd needle.

Rnd 1- K to last 3 sts of 1st needle, K2tog, K1, K1 st on 2nd needle, SL1, K1, PSSO, K to last 3 sts of same needle, K2tog, K1, K 1st st on 3rd needle, SL1, K1, PSSO, K to end of rnd.

Rnd 2- K across all needles.  Rep these 2 rnds until 20 sts remain.  Cut yarn and graft sts together.  Sew in ends.

A Few Words About Swatching

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Every knitter knows the importance of doing a tension swatch before starting a new project. But when a bright, shiny ball of yarn is sitting within arm’s reach, and the pattern is sending out sparks of enticement, this tiny 4 x 4 test piece tends to get overlooked.


A tension swatch will determine the finished size of a sweater. If you are knitting loosely, the test square will measure larger than the required size, if you tend to knit too tightly, the test square will measure smaller than the required size. It’s simple to adjust your knitting tension by changing needle sizes until your swatch measures exactly the required size. One stitch or one row difference on a 4 x 4 test piece may not seem like a big deal, yet on an adult sweater it can change the finished size by more than an inch or two.

Swatching is also useful when a knitter chooses a yarn for all the right reasons (eye candy) but has absolutely no idea what pattern would be suitable for it. Then it’s time to experiment with different size needles. Begin with the recommended size listed on the information section of the ball band, cast on twenty stitches or so, and try ten rows of basic knitting. Think of this part as the test drive, take a moment to feel the texture and the handle of the yarn. Sit back and look at the swatch. Try different stitches to see what brings out the best qualities in the yarn. Smooth yarns sometimes look best in a rib or seed stitch pattern. Nubby and textured yarns speak well on their own, they tend to look best in garter and stocking stitch. Change needle sizes until the yarn feels soft enough yet sturdy enough to keep its shape.

The fun part of knitting starts with the anticipation of what a ball of yarn can be transformed into. Swatching lets us take a test drive before we invest time and energy into a full size project.