Knit one, knit purl
Probably, it was not so long ago, when you could watch under a spell the busily snapping knitting needles, as your mother or grandmother was making a scarf, a hat or a pullover, based on knitting patterns cut out of magazines. The origin of the process is hazy; it presumably comes from Arabia where they used it for making stockings mostly. The method came through the Silk Road to Europe by Moorish intermediation and ecclesiastical dignitaries’ gloves and stockings were made this way. Just like many other textile industrial processes, knitting got a great impulse during the industrialisation period. The appearance of knitting machines allowed to produce difficult knitting methods and patterns and the whole process became automatic. Naturally, Hungary could not miss the technical innovations: our knitting factories, which operated as hosiery manufactures in the beginning, similarly to the earlier-mentioned Goli, started expanding and thriving owing to developments during the 1920s.
The big beret battle
Fashion extravagancy did not evade factories either. The beret appeared in the 1930s, coming from Basque Country through France, and caused a minor competition battle. It was first produced in József Kokron’s (Cocron) factory in Hódmezővásárhely in the 1930s, under the brand name Nor-Coc. It became a huge success soon. However, the problem was that they were not the only producers on the market, because the ‘Bob’ beret also came out of the Knitwear Factory of Rákospalota just about the same time. As neither of the producers wanted to stop beret fabrication they rather did a deal in the middle of 1930s. They agreed on the quantity, the quality of production and the price of the goods, thus Hungary became a beret-producing world power. The successor of the Kokron factory (Fashion Knitwear Factory of Hódmezővásárhely – HÓDIKÖT) kept on producing until the 1960s.
Ugly sweaters reloaded
One can hardly imagine one’s winter wardrobe without knitted pulls, cardigans and turtleneck sweaters, but that is a relatively new phenomenon. The cardigan was ‘invented’ by the British general Lord Cardigan, who felt cold, about two hundred years ago. If one can believe stories, the lord wore this sweater, of which opinions are mixed, in a failed battle during the Crimean war. One thing is certain, when you button it or zip it nowadays, you do not regard it as a military uniform. There is an interesting story about the turtleneck sweater, whose name is ‘garbo’ in Hungarian, after the famous film star Greta Garbo. In the 20th century, films already influenced public taste. Garbo, who often wore turtleneck sweaters, made this kind of pullover popular quickly, though it had been known before that already. First bicyclists wore them to protect their necks, but also sailors used them as working clothes. Nowadays, Christmas sweaters find their new identities in the form of ‘ugly sweaters’.
Using and finishing furs and pelisses originate in the old times but still work today. Though faux fur is getting fashionable, muffs also occur from time to time. Muffs are gloves, regarding their function, but it is hard to imagine their practical use, except if someone wants to travel across the Russian taiga by a sleigh. The fur question is a hot topic today. People who are committed to sustainability, animal protection and ethical fashion think that keeping animals for their furs is unacceptable. Therefore, the increasing popularity of faux fur is good news. If this is not convincing enough, you can learn the technique of knitting. Knitting and crocheting are said to have good effects on humans psychically, just as meditation has; they even decrease dementia, while you can make the pullover or cardigan of your dreams.
Translated by Zita Aknai