Friday, 10 May 2013

What The Dickens Is This?

I know I am supposed to be using up my Great Wool Stash, and not adding to it – but I saw this in a basket of oddments by the door in the Samaritans Charity Shop, and thought “Nobody else will want that” so I bought it. For the fascinating label if nothing else.

DSCF5470This skein of sock yarn [1 ounce in weight] is mysteriously labelled “Little Dorritt” with two ‘t’s – even though Dickens’ eponymous character only had one ‘t’ to her name.

Furthermore, I thought Little Dorrit [real name ‘Amy’] was famed for her sewing, not her knitting. I really ought to read the book, to find that out.

The reverse of the label is full of wonderful information. These “scientifically blended knitting yarns were introduced to the British public in 1949 …the wearing property of this yarn is acclaimed by thousands of satisfied users in all Countries of the World. From our own tests we have evidence of 2 pairs of men’s socks made from our 4ply sock wool which have been worn alternately for over 18 months without requiring any darning or strengthening.”


I presume the “Pioneers” are the manufacturers, George Raw, Limited, of Bingley in Yorkshire- but efforts to find out more about them have failed thus far.

I did find a photograph of a Little Dorrit Triple Knitting Counter here. published by the owner, Linda Spashett. She thinks it dates from the 20s or 30s. But that spells Dorrit as Dickens does. I believe that King Cole Yarns once produced a ‘Little Dorrit’ range too.

The pack is 8” long, 2” in diameter.

row counter

I have just noticed another message down the side of the label

“A new and novel pack that can be used from the handbag or pocket. No ravelling - no waste, use either from inside or outside”

I love the heathery tones – the wool looks grey – but there is beige, blue, lilac and sage green in there. But 1oz of yarn is not going to make a very big sock is it? Any suggestions for what I can do with it?


  1. It may help to use up your stash, although not great in weight it probably has long yardage. I have been using oddments of wool to make the stretchy hats on Operation Christmas child website @ As the hats are needed for children from 2 to 14 a finished hat is bound to fit someone. The pattern uses chunky wool, or, now for the helpful, bit 2 strands of DK, or extra strands of 4 ply. I have used a fine yarn throughout hats to give continuity of colour when using up small amounts of toning colours. I have added a fine yarn to 2 strands of DK to give a nice tweedy look, changing oddments of dk within a similar colour palette gives a very satisfactory chunky hat. Good luck with whatever you decide to use it for.
    I loved the knitting counter and suspect it was very high tech for it's time.
    Have a great day x

  2. Would there be enough to make a pair of socks for Albert or Annick or both?

  3. A collar or cuffs for a dress or top? If it's 4-ply it should make quite a neat effect. The grey marl kind of shade would go well with lots of other colours, such as yellow, jade, turquoise, even pink.

  4. I've been knitting socks for a few years and wool plus nylon is very hardwearing. I found some in a charity shop and it's lovely. I would get some sock yarn in a nice, toning colour and use the grey to knit the heels and toes of a coloured sock. As I have lots of odd bits, I've knitted DH and myself some random stripe socks with matching plain toes and heels and we love them!

  5. A pair of mitts? (I can't envision what 1 oz equates to.)

    Love the "scientifically blended" bit - as though the stuff was spun in a laboratory. Cashing in on the Atomic Age I guess.

    Was wool still being rationed in 1949? That might account for the very small skein.

  6. 1oz is about 28 grams

    Clothes rationing ended in 1949, so I presume that was when wool rationing ended too.
    I think I may see if I have any more sock wool in my stash and knit myself some fingerless gloves for the winter. [like these]

    thanks everyone for the suggestions!

  7. When I was a young child, I remember my grandmother and her sister used to knit socks for all the male members of the family. I recognise the name Little Dorrit(t) as she used to talk about it.

    By the way, when the knitted socks were too worn to be darned any more, a thread was pulled above the heel where the sock fabric was still in good condition, the stitches were picked up and a new foot part knitted. When the socks had been refooted twice, the tops were kept and unravelled and the yarn was used double to knit up squares to sew together as blankets to keep the family warm. Waste not, want not!


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