Sweater Knits 100 Years Ago

A beach cover-up? Click to enlarge.
A month ago I read an article on the wonderful Maker's Row site entitled, "How Small Manufacturers Can Stay Competitive". Though written by someone with a leather manufacturing business, I found the article very relatable, because much of the post was on the return of manufacturing to the United States.

Many of you know it took a little while before I found a place to get my knits manufactured. One hundred years ago, things might have been easier. Believe me, I have no interest in going back a century. I'd have major social justice issues, civil rights issues, and fashion issues, but one hundred years ago, my current Soho neighborhood was a real hot bed of wool, sweater showrooms, and the knitting related businesses. These businesses spilled out way beyond my immediate neighborhood. Knitting mills were scattered all over the U.S. northeast and midwest at the time. Many of these businesses are documented in Sweater News: The Journal of the Sweater and Fancy Knit Goods Trade vol. 5 (12 issues from 1918), a publication I've been "thumbing" through, that was digitized on Google Books. Earlier and later volumes are also available, but I happened upon this amazing volume first. I'm not sure when the journal ceased to be published. The most recent one I found was 1920.

Sweater News was a trade publication for the wholesale sweater industry. I was already reading the articles and enjoying display ads, when I realized that it was published at 320 Broadway in Manhattan, just a few blocks from where I live and work now. Please click to enlarge pics in this post.
I love the ad for the Dubied machine, pictured above left. The Fashion Institute of Technology still has several Dubied machines, not too different from the one pictured. I knitted on one in "Weft Knitting Technology" in the late 1980s and then again in 2011 in the "Knit Design Principles and Technology" class I was taking.

Ninety-six years ago, wholesale buyers could browse the ads for the knit fashion of the day. "Climax Quality" bathing suits, anyone?

The pages below got my attention.
As I was reading "New Bill to Protect Designs Before Congress" on the right, I glanced at the opposite page and noticed that the American Spinning Company's branch office and warehouse was located across the street from me. You may have caught glimpses of the 66 Greene in my Instagram feed.

Here are pics of the February 2015 street view. Click each pic for a closer look.

Sixty-six Greene is the white building on the right where the old American Spinning Co. was located. The black building on the left (68 Greene) currently houses not only the Diesel Black Gold Shop on the street level, but also the Landau Wool Company, a remnant jobber, on the second floor. According to info gleaned online, Landau Wool was established in 1960, but I'd say it's a real throwback to this Soho, New York, neighborhood from 100 years ago.



  1. Replies
    1. It's been fun browsing the pages. Some of the copy and pics are REALLY entertaining a century after they were first published.


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