Friday, December 23, 2011

Make it a Manos Christams

-Manos Del Uraguay Ad from Vogue Knitting, Winter 1987

What do you know? The Loop has received Manos Del Uruguay Wool Classica and Maxima just in time for Crimbo.  Not in time, unfortunately, to make this holiday jumper.  Can you imagine it made in Manos' 2011 colours?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Shop Window 2011

Downtown Halifax is hoping for snow this Christmas week!

PS It's proving to be a bit of a Rorscharch test, but I love my Yarn Ball Tree with Niddy-Noddy Trunk!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The American War Board Puts Their Foot In It,1942

Loud Protest Follows Sock Knitting Ban

The new war board last night proved its reputation for bold, fearless action by making a definite pass at the millions of knitting needles clicking off sweaters and socks for soldiers.

Claiming that the wool can be better used elsewhere, the board bluntly stated that the products knitted by the millions of well-meaning mothers, wives and sweethearts usually wound up as gun-cleaning or shoe-shining rags. Wool being on a class with rubies and twice as valuable to the war effort, the board took steps to call a definite halt to voluntary amateur knitting.


Fighting for women's right to knit while the men shoot, the women's section of civilian defence, headed by Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, came back with a violent hands off action. For the sake of civilian morale as well as that of the soldiers, OCS said knitting must continue for the duration. Take the needles out of the ladies' hands and the co-operative spirit and high morale on the home front will collapse, the defenders of the hearth maintained. While their husbands, brothers, sweethearts and sons are far away fighting for world peace, the girls must click or be doomed to discontent.

The war board's answer to this barrage of counter-fire is now in the hands of the Red Cross. In a concise, unmistakable order, the board asked the Red Cross to discourage knitting except by specific order from military commanders. The War and Navy departments refused to reveal whether or not the commanders have any plans to place orders for hand-knitted cozies.

During World 1, according to the war board boys, the AEF had several uses for the things knitted by loving hands at home. One of the most popular ways of getting some wear and tear out of the amateur woolies was made to trade them to French barmaids and housewives for wine. The soldiers got their cup-that-cheers and the French women unravelled the sweaters, reknit them. Everyone was happy, including the little woman at home.
But in World War II, the board explains, the wool shortage is not going to be made shorter by dainty fingers dabbling with the previous skeins. Sweater-knitting, they insist, will be strictly on official order, and the sewing circles will have to think up something else to do with their hands.
All this and the stern order now in making, will mark a mile-post in America's war history. American women have always knitted ferociously while their menfolk fought at the front. The knee-warmers, mittens, mufflers, sweaters and other plain and fancy purling products have always been carefully patted down into boxes and sent off to the men in the trenches with enormous satisfaction.
Knitting has provided women with an excuse to gather and gossip. To feel useful and brave, to mark them as courageous ladies who have courageous men at the front.
The home knitting industry speeds up to a pace envied by many a munition industry during war-time. Debutantes and ribbon clerks take it up with a vengeance. Knitting is hauled out at the theater, in night clubs, at meal times and in doctors' offices. The office of civilian defence stoutly maintains that the sore feet, discomfort and hangovers resulting from amateur knitted goods is outbalanced by the spiritual and morale uplift gained in knitting.

-St. Petersburg Times, Jan 25, 1942

This article astounded me so many times that I had to rest between paragraphs. I still don't quite know what to say. You really must read this article.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Canadian Trends in Wartime Knitting


[Lux Knitting Annual 1942. 
Photo courtesy of your friend, the internet.]

In knitting too, it's a very different war. The last one was mostly a matter of socks but in this one, not even styles stay static nor are garments standardized.
Looking over the new 1942 edition of a knitting annual which is a Canadian best-seller in the field, the Lux Knitting Book, a veteran knitter whose needles have served in both emergencies, pointed out how amazing the contrast is. Methods have altered little but almost everything else has.
She leafed through the book which came off the press only this week, to show what a story the knitting changes tell. Here, for instance, are instructions for knitting sweaters for "women in the services," which would have been somewhat startling even a gear ago. There are garments for evacuees, bomb victims and shelter wear.
Knitting needs for the fighting services tend to be as specialized and varied as the services themselves. That's the trend at least. There's an air force sleeveless turtleneck, for example, and a boatneck pullover for the navy. Full instructions are given for more than a score of service items including a series of knitted accessories which are in constant demand but often overlooked.
For that matter, the contrasts are by no means restricted to active service circles. With the sweater doing so well in fashion's popularity polls, these new up-to-the-minute patterns must be given a share of the credit. And there are suggestions too for smart but practical, easily made gifts. The knitting stylists have done a job this season for the whole family.

-The Montreal Gazette, Nov.8. 1941
Click here, to see an interesting excerpt from this book which I posted last year.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Halloween Window: Window Wide Web

 Is it a spiders web made of yarn? Perhaps, like many other passersby and neighbouring businesses, you think that my last minute nod to Halloween in The Loop's display space looks like a giant crack in our window?
When I began the window yarn web at the end of the day, it looked very spidery.  Many Barrington Street shoppers stopped to watch me construct it, and a few people throwing Halloween parties took photos (like these) and came in to ask me about it.  At some point it began to look less webby.  I admit that when I went outside to check the web, I myself thought it looked like broken glass.  I thought it looked neat anyways though, and finished the web/crack off.  Chives chefs walking passed weren't sure, but I had locked up by this point and left the window as-was.
 I thought that I would revisit the idea of yarn posing as broken glass later.  Perhaps do a window with knitted graffiti, faux yarn bombings, and other wooly urbanisms. Now however, after many reports of distressed neighbours and calls and emails from concerned customers who thought we had been vandalized... I will abandon the idea.  Window space on a high street is a powerful thing!  I apologize to our worried customers and friends!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Early WWII Patterns from the Glasgow Herald

The universal occupation of women in war-time is knitting, and already almost instinctively many women have felt that they wanted to be doing something by way of preperatation of those warmth-giving articles which may mean so much to the comfort of the wounded.
Here then are two patterns, as approved by the British Red Cross Society. Eventually when completed, and some supplies accumulated, they can be sent to any Women's Voluntary Services office, or to any other official address which may appear from time to time in the press appealing for hospital supplies.

Heel-less Bed Sock

Measurement when finished, 22 inches.
Materials required: 5oz, of white 4-ply wool and 4 No.8 bone or vulcanite needles.
Cast on 60 stitches (that is 20 on each of three needles). Knit one round plain.
Then knit 2 purl 2 until a length of 10 inches is worked, then knit all plain for another 10 inches.
Knit one round plain, next round decrease 1 stitch about the centre of each of two needles, and one the beginning and end of third needles; knit next round plain.
Then knit 6, take 2 together; repeat to end of tound.
Knit 6 rounds plain.
Knit 5, take 2 together; repeat to end of round.
Knit 5 rounds plain.
Knit 4, take 2 together; repeat to end of round.
Knit 4 rounds plain.
Knit 3, take 2 together; repeat to end of round.
Knit 3 rounds plain.
Knit 2, take 2 together; repeat to end of round.
Knit 2 rounds plain.
Knit 1, take 2 together; repeat to end of round.
Knit 1 round plain.
Next round: Knit every 2 together, then knit 2, slip the first knitted one over the second, continue until last stitch, through which draw the wool, leaving a length of 4 or 5 inches to be neatly fastened off with darning needle.

Heel-less Operation Stocking

Measurement of stocking when finished, 36 inches in length.
Materials required for a pair, 8oz. of white 4-ply vest wool; 4 No. 8 bone needles.
Cast on 68 stitches and knit on two needles, one row plain, and then rib-purl 2, knit 2-for four inches. Put the work on to three needles-24 stitches on two and 20 stitches on the third needle, and knit round and round still in the rib until work measures 34 inches.
Then knit one round plain, next round decrease one stitch about the centre of each of two needles, and the beginning and end of the third needle. Knit the next round plain.
Then knit 6, take 2 together; repeat to end of tound.
Knit 6 rounds plain.
Knit 5, take 2 together; repeat to end of round.
Knit 5 rounds plain.
Knit 4, take 2 together; repeat to end of round.
Knit 4 rounds plain.
Knit 3, take 2 together; repeat to end of round.
Knit 3 rounds plain.
Knit 2, take 2 together; repeat to end of round.
Knit 2 rounds plain.
Knit 1, take 2 together; repeat to end of round.
Knit 1 round plain.
Next round: Knit every 2 together, then knit 2, slip the first knitted one over the second, continue until last stitch, through which draw the wool, leaving a length of 4 or 5 inches to be neatly fastened off with darning needle.

-The Glasgow Herald September 19. 1939

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Puffed Sleeves In The 1940s

Truly, fashion at the beginning of 1940 and at the end of 1949 should not be lumped together.  The attitudes and influences in the years immediately following the Second World War make for a very specific period of 20th century fashion, as does the introduction of Dior's new look.  For knitters though, a lumping together of years might be more forgivable.  After all, we are dealing less with high fashion, or even commercial fashion; just its trickle-down influence.  Also, because home knitters have to source their own materials, the continuation of rationing post war, and material shortages for the years to come affected home knitting fashion directly.

I'm Canadian, so most of the vintage patterns I find are British, Canadian, or British patterns reformated for Canadian import. This means that the terms I use for vintage patterns are usually British (ie yarn weights, needle sizes) and that all of my patterns from the 1940s are influenced by the Second World War and by the rationing that followed.
At no other time in modern history was knitting so newsworthy!
The War Knitting Marathon at the 1940 New York World's Fair

Several initiatives were already in place when war was declared and the British and Canadian Governments created and regulated many wooly efforts. These have been well documented, especially in the last few years. Try these posts to learn more about war time knitting. Of course these knitting initiatives served those knitting for the troops and wounded overseas, but also served the garment needs of the homefront. 'Make Do And Mend' is only one part of the 1940s knitting story. It is also only one influence on the creative home knitter of this period. Perhaps another post is needed. If and when I write it, it will be slotted in with a link here.
The conditions of WWII knitting made a pleated puff sleeve possible and popular.

Where the pads of the 1930s had extended the shoulder line slightly into the cap or puff of the sleeve, supporting the height of the puff, the puff sleeve of the early 1940s was often constructed and fitted flat at the top of the cap and, because of it's rigidity, and the shape and firmness of the shoulder pad, sat level with the shoulder, puffing every direction but up.
A 1940s puff; the flat, pleated top of the sleeve extends the shoulder line.  
A pad (visible on the left shoulder) helps to push the puff out.  
The firm lace and long cuff exaggerates the fullness at the shoulder.

Moving forwards, the puff sleeve of the later war years was much more extreme.  The WWII shoulder attempted to do two things:  appear soft and feminine (round puff), and to echo the uniforms and wartime spirit of the time (squared shoulders).  These two looks (which sometimes appear together in some of the more fantastic wartime sweater patterns) are controlled by three factors: the construction of the sleeve, the setting of the sleeve, and the padding of the sleeve.  Day to day, it is the pad that becomes indispensable.  With a mini collection of different kinds of pads, a home knitter could (and can!) change the feel of a jumper depending on the event, mood, or time of day.

Several factors also contributed to the practical possibility of these kinds of sleeves, and to the flourishing of puff.  Wartime sweaters were often knit with a yoke of a different scrap colour or stitch pattern, in part to save and use up scraps (remember that a British coupon was worth only 2oz of wool), but also because of the striking effect it creates.  A straight, no-nonsense line separates the two areas and sets off the whimsy of a slightly silly sleeve.  It also slims the shoulder no end; very dainty, but still efficient.  This visual effect was easy to achieve without too much experience and it is a great way to instantly evoke a vintage feel today.

A more experienced knitter might also knit the puffed section of the sleeve in the yoke colour or pattern, continuing the line of separation across the entire body.  Striking, and neat as a pin.  No one wanted to look frivolous or wasteful so few sweaters from this period were particularly lacy, or knit loosely or drapey, instead lace was close, creating a firmer fabric than typical knitted lace. A firm fabric is easier to fiddle with when it comes to setting the sleeve; a plus for a puff or sculpted sleeve.
Puffed and exaggerated shoulders were unavoidable; the fabric created by the body of wartime sweaters was one just begging to be inflated.

My 'Vantine's' Jumper has a yoke of a firm fabric to help with finishing.  Also note the firmness and pertness of the lace pattern.  It is delicate, but not drapey.

Sweaters needed to be more durable because for many, more time was having to be spent outdoors. This meant that padding and pleating could be added to greater effect. It also meant that the fabric of the sweater was sturdier, especially due to the scarcity of fine yarns. Many sweaters were knit of old, recycled sweaters or scrap yarn meaning that the wool was often stiffer than normal. Recycled yarn also looses it's elasticity and must be knit firmer.  Most sweaters of repurposed wool were knit in textured fabric, perfect for structural sleeves.  Although beautifully shown in 1940s patterns, at home stranded knitting was largely avoided over the top of the sleeve, and Fair Isle patterns were usually placed by novice knitters on the yoke alone.  Most sweaters were of one colour (on the sleeve) and of a textured stitch pattern so that in the finishing, the gathering or "easing in" of excess fabric at the head of the sleeve gave an instant structural look even if no special finishing techniques were used.  Make do and Mend, Red Cross depots, and Air Raids all meant that women were knitting in groups more than ever, and so specialty stitches and techniques could be shared (or not).  More home knitters and new knitters could now attempt puffed sleeves.
Granny, her mates in the WAFs, and their shoulders.
This look was in because of the unavoidable influence of military uniforms on fashion. Of course many women found themselves in uniform, but many women called to war work outside of the forces wanted to emulate this appearance of professionalism and patriotism.

In this way pads became as square as the squared shoulders (figuratively and literally)of the military, and padding raised them adding height in addition to width. With 'Make-Do" foremost in every knitter's mind, many pads were made of scrap fabric and were stuffed with yarn scraps or sawdust if cotton was scarce. These pads were adding height (new since the 1930s) and so were often knit or sewn square, rather like little beanbags.  Click here to read "Using Gauge Swatches as Shoulder Pads in the Vintage Style", part of the Quest for Puff series!

This free pattern from the Victoria & Albert Museum's War Time Collection features a custom knitted shoulder pad. 

The Shiap tried to kill the square look, introducing a sloped shoulder. It did not take off. Operating out of the States, rather than Occupied France, she was fighting the fashion houses' rebellion. The Couturiers showed manish shapes, awkward hems, ugly shoes and misappropriated hats, all destined (they hoped) for the wives of German officers; no one else could afford them. England stayed ignorant of this trend until well after the war; their shoulders would never become as bizarre.
Occupied France's lines had only a slight influence on British styles.

A peasant revival was inspired by land girls, though most land girls themselves could not participate in it.
Girlish puffed sleeves couldn't help but be popular, (a look carried over from the '30s) and stayed inflated and round until around the time the Americans joined the war. After Pearl Harbour the military inspired square shoulder won out for the most part, and puffs tended to be angled until Dior's New Look. This is partly to do with the fact that the fashion colonies were cut off from France. Forced to look elsewhere for mode, foreign designers pulled from the military look, and even the specific uniforms of local heros. It is at this point that the American and British commercial fashions really begin to take on a unique cultural identity.
The Peasant/Folk craze would continue to come and go as it had for centuries.  
For the home knitter it would become a haven of puff.

Dior launched his 'New Look' in 1947.  Of course it changed everything and part of it's success was it's very 'newness'.  It was achieved, however, by reviving some very old techniques.
You might think that the Look's rounded shoulder lines would kill our story and certainly annex the shoulder pad.  Although a square shoulder was instantaneously out of date, Dior's rebirthing of French Tailoring and Couture techniques, many unseen since Victoria,  made padding a staple.  Pads became more shaped, more like the ubiquitous pads of the 1980s.  Sleeve Heads, particularly for jackets were to become, and remain essential.
Pads can be used to give puff shape to a shoulder that was knit to be sloped.  
This look is a bridge between the square and the round shoulder.

Dior's line was universally lauded and in Britain it was seen as a breath of fresh air.  The American and British Governments however, were furious.  They were working very hard to ration a public who was confused about restrictions still in place after the war.  Dior's New Look, with it's ample fabric was very very expensive and hard to come by.  Nowadays, this would be a case for High Street knockoffs.  Britain, however was still rationing many garments and dressmaking materials, and would continue to do so for several years.  Also,  mills and design firms had both been restricted and could only produce a limited line of products.  Knitting was still essential, and now more of the home knitter's time could be spent on personal projects, rather than knitting for the troops.  The Red Cross in Canada and the US continued to collect for various worthy causes, but here too we see more involved patterns for the knitter herself.
Knitters continued to employ tricks like this one to conserve rationed wool; the contrast colour is embroidered over the body of the sweater, extending it's effect.  Perhaps the wool for the embroidery was salvaged from the pocket of another sweater.  The firm fabric of the sleeve (since the colour wasn't stranded) is perfect for pleating into a puff.

In February of 1949, wool clothing ceased to be rationed.  This meant that if the consumer could afford it, some items could be bought and no longer needed to be knitted.  Unfortunately, this didn't quite produce a renaissance of personal knitting as it had after WWI; knitting wool would remain rationed until 1952.

When it becomes readily available again, yarn will be a very different product and knitting will have to adapt.

Bring on the 1950s '60s and '70s.

You are reading "The Quest For Puff" ©Morgan Forrester

Up next:
Mid Century Peasant Puff
Coming Soon:
Vintage Sleeves: Puff Pleating
Vintage Sleeves: Seaming for Puff
Creating Puffed Sleeves Anew

This post is a part of The Quest For Puff Series. Read it from the beginning HERE.
PS  Sorry, I don't know what's up with the spacing.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

War Knitting Marathon


Here they come down the stretch in the war knitting marathon at the Australian Pavillion at the New York World's Fair, June 18. The winner was Finland by a stitch; Belgium was second. With Fanny Hurst, noted author; Mrs. Harrison Williams, one of the ten best-dressed women, and Lynne Fontanne, stage star (left to right) acting as the judges, Mrs. Siami Rappell (seated right), of the Finnish relief committee, beats Mrs. Rene Burchard, of the Belgium relief committee. The marathon lasted for two days.

-Windsor Daily Star, June 21, 1940

PS I think Mona von Bismark (Williams at the time) is stunning in this photo. It's amazing to see how beautiful she was in real life, in a candid shot. What must her own knitting have been like?  The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater might have a lot to answer for!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My New Favourite Rockefeller

Industriously Works on a Shawl for War Sufferers.
Special to The New York Times.

HOT SPRINGS, Va., Nov. 12. -John D. Rockefeller, Jr., is knitting a shawl of heavy wool. Knitting is a new accomplishment for Mr. Rockefeller. He had never tried it until las night, when he was sitting in the lobby of the Homestead Hotel with his wife, W. H. Cheesebrough, Mrs. Richard Perkins, and Mrs. N. W. Chadwick, the women knitting, as most of them here are constantly doing. Somebody suggested that inasmuch as the Rockefeller Foundation is giving large sums for relief of the war suffers, the men might as well help with the work. Needles and yarn were produced and Mr. Chesebrough made a feeble attempt. Mr. Rockefeller, however, went at the work with spirit, soon got the hang of it, and persevered for two hours. Tonight he was continuing and had about a yard done.

-The New York Times, November 13, 1914

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back to School Window

This September the kids went back to school, and we at The Loop went back to work. Our job? Teaching the masses to stitch. We are now midway through our Fall 2011 schedule and there are lots of fun classes still available. Lamby recommends needle felting! Our class schedule is posted in the store's window for sneaky peeks and is always available on our website here.

I'm off to teach a crochet workshop tonight. Don't forget that The Loop also offers private lessons. Please phone the shop for more information (902) 429-5667.

Friday, October 21, 2011

When Knitting Groups Go Bad


Idle Gossip on War is Dangerous!

Women can do a lot of talking while they're knitting -and if they don't watch themselves they can do as much damage by their talk as they do good by the warm clothes they knit for the Red Cross.
If the click of their knitting needles is accompanied by thoughtless war talk they aren't nearly as patriotic as they like to believe they are.
No woman can knit enough sweaters to make up for spreading vague and frightening war rumors. Of for circulating stories about people in her community who have always been good citizens, but who happen to have been born in a country with which we are now at war.
Nor can she roll enough bandages to make up for the damage she does by making derogatory remarks about our army or repeating groundless gossip about the men who are running our government.
And she can't devote enough hours to war work to balance the harm she does by kicking about taxes, complaining over the high cost of living, and grumbling over having to give up a few luxuries.

Don't Wall Over Sacrifices
Nor is there any way in which she can make up for her bad effect on morale when she acts as though when she gives up "things" she is making a terrific sacrifice. Any woman who has a man in one of the armed forces is bound to resent such an attitude.
Knitting is a great inducement to talking -so while they knit women should keep their minds on their talking as well as their knitting to see that there is no harm in anything they say.

We, The Women, by Ruth Millett
-The Evening Independent February 9,1942

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Story of George E. Hill


Aged Ohio Man Has Made Many Socks and Sweaters for Soldiers.

"Knitting is easier today than it was when I was a boy, and I guess I've improved some in my work, too." is the modest way in which George E. Gill of Dayton, I., comments on his knitting record, which embraces three wars. During the European war, after American intervention, the Dayton chapter of the American Red Cross delivered yarn to him in volume of 20 hanks at a time. Those who knit will appreciate what this means-what a tremendous task confronts the knitter. Undaunted, Mr. Hill "carried on." When he reached his hundredth pair he knitted appropriate designs into the socks and sent them to the president of the United States, who is also president of the American Red Cross. General Pershing, he says, will get the two hundredth pair, properly decorated.
When a boy Mr. Hill knitted for the soldiers of the Civil war. During the Spanish-American war he knitted garments for Red Cross distribution. Long before America declared war against Germany he resumed his knitting activities on behalf of the allies, redoubling his efforts when the youth of our land was called into service. He is indefatigable in his work. In November when the Dayton chapter of the American Red Cross was asked to furnish 500 sweaters for nurses, Mr. Hill completed two in six days, remarking when he delivered them: "I can finish two of them in five days if I'm not interrupted too much."
Although his hair is white with the snows of many years, Mr. Hill's heart is delightfully youthful. He works at his regular employment in the commercial world from seven to five o'clock every week day, and does his knitting in his leisure hours, often arising at three o'clock in the morning to knit a sock before breakfast, as it were. He has made a specialty of knitting two socks simultaneously with one pair of knitting needles.

Ellensburg Daily Record, December 20, 1918

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Using Gauge Swatches as Shoulder Pads in the Vintage Style

Even before rationing made reusing and recycling wool necessary, clever knitters were repurposing their gauge swatches (tension squares) as shoulder pads. A swatch can be made into several different styles of pad. We'll be looking at three: triangular, square, and rectangular.

NOTE: The average swatch is knit to 10cm (4"). The examples in this tutorial are each of 24 stitches; a neat display device I tried at The Loop. These swatches were of various worsted weight yarns resulting in 18-22 stitches per 4 inches. The average size of swatch was 5" square.
Because they were for display purposes, each swatch was knit with a garter stitch border 3 stitches on either side and 3-4 rows top and bottom. This is an excellent format for a swatch destined to become padding. The garter border allows for easy stitching and stuffing, and also creates an ideal flat surface for placement and stitching to the garment, particularly useful if the pad is to be removed or used in multiple applications. These worsted weight swatches make a big statement but for a more subtle look, use a fine yarn. The point of this technique is that you will have already made the pads by swatching for your project, and since most of your vintage sweaters will have been knit with a fingering or sport weight yarn your pads will be less cartoony than my examples.

As we know, shoulder pads first became necessary to the home knitter in the 1930s so that the shoulder line could be extended gracefully, and girlish puff sleeves could stay aloft. The first shoulder pads were triangular, a perfect job for the typically square gauge swatch.

Your swatch is unlikely to be a perfect square, but this does not matter much. Fold the swatch in half and pin one side as you begin work on the other. Any waste yarn will work for this project; it need not be the same yarn as the gauge swatch. Using the garter stitch border as a guide, stitch generously. Tiny stitches are nice, but not necessary. Do not seam these two edges as you normally would a knitting project. Grafting or Mattress Stitch will ruin the affect. Backstitches, or even a Running Stitch, if you're inpatient will do the job.
Place these stitches in from the edge. The stitches in the photo were placed in the middle stitch of the 3row/3 stitch Garter border. This works to about .25" from the edge. If your swatch does not have a border like the example pad does, place your seam .5" in from the edge. This will create a ridge you can use to attach the pad to the garment.

Stop stitching your pad together an inch or so before the second corner. Use this opening to stuff your pad. Do not cut your working yarn or unthread your needle.
You have several stuffing options. I stuffed the examples above with raw fleece, but only because it was the easiest thing to hand. Polyfilla, cotton baton and fluff will do just as well. Followers of Make do and Mend may take a tip from WWII and fill their pads with scraps of waste yarn....or even sawdust.

Note: If you are using flat sheets of wadding you should cut these to the shape of your swatches, leaving a .5" seaming allowance along the sides to be stitched. In the case of a triangular pad this means that along the third side the wadding should reach the fold of the swatch. In a square pad you will need to leave a seam allowance along all four sides. You will layer the filler to taste, depending on the thickness of the wadding, but start with just one layer.

Whichever material you choose, resist the urge to overstuff.
Pick your needle back up and finish stitching, closing the stuffing gap, and backstitch to secure. To finish, bury your yarn by inserting the needle into the pad and stuffing and bringing up through the middle of the pad's fabric as pictured further down. Now clip the yarn close to the surface.

Square shoulder pads are made in much the same way and will thrill knitters of 1940s patterns. In the sweater patterns of the 40s we see instructions for shoulder pads start to crop up and although some of them are unique to a single sweater, most are simple bean bags of the same yarn as the main pattern. Remember that under WWII's military influence pads were required to both extend the shoulder line, and raise it. In more extreme puffed sleeves, the sleeve head would be totally unsupported but for padding. This is one reason for disappointing, deflated puffs in home knitting.

In this example the two swatches are of slightly different sizes. This is almost always likely to be the case, and it doesn't really matter for this project. Simply pin the two squares together so that the edges match. The centre of one of the swatches will bulge, but that's what we want anyways.

Don't overstuff the square pad either. The amount of filler in the photo above was a good starting point; you may find that you need less padding than you thought. Remember that placement of the pad is going to be very important. Extreme vintage looks are created when the shoulder pad is stitched in. Overstuffing will actually give you less options and control.

A sticky material like raw fleece will tend to ball up in the middle. We want an even stuffing so use your fingers to distribute the filler evenly.

Bury your yarn as pictured.

A single square can also be made into a rectangular pad by folding a swatch in half and stitching. In my knitting I find this to be the most useful pad. The truth is, it has a bit more in common with another type of padding; a 'sleeve head' or 'roll'. This is because its short sides will follow the curve of the shoulder and support the front and back of a round puff. The term sleeve head is problematic! Read more about this in the intro to this padding series:here.

The rectangular gauge swatch can afford to be stuffed generously. The most important aspect to this pad for knitters, is the top seam. If your swatch does not have a garter stitch ridge remember to place your stitching well away from the edge. Along the long sides of the rectangle sew at least .5" in, creating a flat strip. This is what you will use to attach the pad to the garment.

Next we'll talk about the placement of these pads and the different looks they can achieve.

This post is a part of The Quest For Puff Series. Read it from the beginning HERE.
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