All posts tagged: wool

Terminology: What is botany wool?

Botany wool, often known simply as botany (though I find the ‘wool’ part helpful in differentiating it from the general ‘flowers and trees’ type of botany) is an early name for merino wool produced in the Antipodes. (OK, so I’m not 100% sure that suit is made of Botany wool.  But it might very well be.  And it’s spectacular.  And there are only so many images of socks I can show you). In the 19th century it was spun into cloth and used in outer wear, and so the term ‘botany wool’ could mean the fabric, not the raw materials.  In the 20th century it has mainly been used in knit sweaters and hosiery, though as late as 1922 you could still buy ‘Botany wool’ serge. According to most dictionaries, the term arose in the 1880s, when the Australian wool industry was established enough to export in reasonable quantities.  However, there are advertisements describing cloth as ‘botany’ in New Zealand at the end of the 1870s, so it may be a bit older. It was …

A make-do-and-mend granny square throw

It’s been a while since I did a proper ‘Textiles on Thursday’ with something from my collection, but I’m trying to go back to that. This week I have a piece of real kiwiana, but also something that people all over the world may recognise with nostalgia: a throw of crocheted wool granny squares. My throw consists of 24 large granny squares: 6 one way, 4 the other, in shades of aqua, forest green, grey, lavender, periwinkle, heathered gold, yellow gold, white, ocean blue, brick red, pale blue, royal blue, peach, magenta, grape, cream and black.  Lots of colours!  The throw is lined in three cotton flour sacks which have been machine sewn together, and machine sewn to the crocheted throw around the edges. Most of you will recognise granny squares from the 1970s, but the technique dates back to at least the 19th century.  Weldon and Company published a crochet pattern for what they call ‘patchwork squares’ in 1895, and extolled the ease with which they could be made, and how frugal they were. Their …

Those crazy Victorians – take 3: Sanitary toe socks

Remember toe socks?  Those 70’s monstrosities that became a fad again in the 1990s?  It turns out they weren’t a new invention! Click on the image to learn more than you ever wanted to know about weird Victorian health regimens. I now must find a way to incorporate toe socks into a steampunk ensemble.  I wonder if you could have steampunk-esque slippers?  Or sandals?  In an awful way, I’m liking the idea of ‘crunchy’ steampunk.  Enter the steampunk hippies! * If you are wondering what ‘Take 1’ and ‘Take 2’ were, check out these posts.