Woollens from Yan Tyan Tethera

stocking needles and yarn with needle case

above: all you need to feed a family? From Frances' personal collection, steel knitting needles in their purpose-made wooden case; the needles are approximately 2mm in diameter (the safety pin is in the picture to show scale). This is testament to the hours of labour put in to every stocking inch of work.

Stitches in Time 2

The knitting of woollen stockings sustained many rural hill farmers’ families from the bitter hardships of poverty during the 1700-1800’s; all the family took part both women and men and their children.  Tregaron was one of the main centres to which merchants from as far away as London would travel to buy bundles, or ‘fardles’, of stockings.  As well as the hosier towns, there were regular stocking fairs.  More determined knitters would walk to stopping-off points for the stage coaches travelling along the Holyhead road, to sell their wares directly to the customer.   It is also recorded that cattle-drovers took bundles of stockings with them to sell as they passed through the English market towns on their way to take cattle south to London markets.                                                                                                                
Sales in 1800 at Bala, are estimated to have been worth £18,000 for 200,000 pairs of stockings sold, varying in price from 1/4d to 5/- for adult stockings and 8d for children’s socks.  Records for 1810-15 show that a woman making the stockings ‘may card, spin and knit four pairs of stockings per week’ for which she received 8d a pair when they were sold at market.    5d was the cost of the 8oz or 250g., prepared and spun fleece wool necessary for each pair of socks.  Each week the farmer’s wife prepared, spun and knitted wool necessary for 4 pairs of socks, so using  2lbs of wool or about a kilo of yarn,  for which she would only earn a total of 1/- (having an income of 3d per pair and selling 4 pairs). This 1/- would be needed to keep the family in food, warmth and clothing for the week(Walter Davies: Agriculture and Domestic Economy of both north and south Wales, 1810-15).                                                                                                                        

In the 1880’s, “the focal point of the stocking trade in Tregaron was the inn situated in the main square, aptly [named the] Hosiers’ Arms”, from which itinerant pedlars would set out after the Tuesday fair to take stockings to Merthyr, the centre of the mining valleys.  Taking three days to cover the 28miles, they walked by way of other smaller fairs and trading centres through to Abergwesyn, then to Llanwrtyd Wells, stopping the night before walking over the Eppynt Mountains into Brecon and finally over the Brecon Beacons into Merthyr.  The pedlar would then have to walk back over the same three day route to reach Tregaron in time for the next Tuesday market (Evan Jones,  Cerdded Hen Ffeiriau, Aberystwyth, 1972) .                                                                                                                                                  (Knitting Stockings in Wales – A Domestic Craft, S. Minwell Tibbot, Folk Life, A Journal of Ethnological Studies, Volume Sixteen*1978, p.68,69,71)


special collection waistcoat


Special Collection- Double Waistcoat

Every now and again, Frances designs something for a special collection. These are new designs that she makes in small batches, sometimes these projects feed into her main body of work - sometimes they are just for fun. Here is the latest design, a waistcoat that has a double lapel and blouse front with side seams in common with the waistcoat. When worn the waistcoat drapes beautifully and lapels lap one another in an orderly but casual manner. Alternatively, and shown in our pop-up image, the blouse can be buttoned to the neck. Pearl buttons and top-stitching give a very nice finish to the garment - see the waistcoat at Teme Valley Farmer's Market in December 2012 & early in the New Year.


knitting samples

Stitches in Time 1

Amongst Frances' collections of knitting patterns, swatches and reference materials, she recently revisited this amazing collection of pattern samples. Shown here are two sheets of many miniature samples - the thread used is really pretty eye-wateringly fine but what is most amazing is the beautifully hand-written pattern book. A fine hand fills the book from cover to cover, stitch by stitch, without correction or any gaps at all.

We think this fantastic resource of knitting stitches/patterns dates from around the turn of the century or early 20th century and was made by a lady working in the jewellery quarter of Birmingham (Hockley) employed as a fine chain-maker - she certainly appears to have wonderful eyesight and must have been incredibly dexterous. A lovely set of samples to own and to be inspired by.



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