Film ID: YFA 5763 Video of BEHIND THE SIRDAR LABEL 1969 Visitor TabsDescription This is a promotional film made by Harrap Brothers to promote their Sirdar brand of knitting yarn. Accompanied by a commentary, the film takes us through the process of spinning wool into yarn at their factory in Wakefield, showing the workers at work, including those hand knitting designs for testing. Title – Harrap Brothers (Sirdar Wools) Ltd. Present: Behind The Sirdar Label The film begins with a woman examining some wool in a wool shop, followed by aerial views over the Sirdar Mill in Wakefield. Inside the mill bales of “tops”, rolls of wool, are being unloaded and put into “bins” from which the wool is drawn onto a machine where the fibres are pulled ready for spinning. There is both fly spinning and rain spinning, both used in hand knitting yarns. The process moves on to twisting, with it being explained that the entire process is pre-determined, dependent on the kind of yarn being produced. Inside the laboratory the wool fibres are being tested at each stage of the process, for its colouring and quality, and all the results are written down. As oil has been added to the wool it then needs to be scoured, and then washed out and dried, in large spinning machines and then in heating machines. It is then winched into balls ready for packing, showing women working the machines winding the fibres of different colours into balls. These are then bundled, labelled and packaged before being sent by conveyer belt to the warehouse. They are selected for the different orders coming in. In the offices modern electronic machines and punch machines process all the information. Instruction leaflets are added to the orders. There is a display in a shop window before the film cuts to a room full of women busy knitting different patterns with the designers to be tested. The hand knitting is shown close up, with it being explained that they are using the typical North Country method of holding one knitting needle under the arm. It is also explained that some of this work is done by outworkers in their own homes. The finished garments are pressed before the models try them on. The film ends with a quick review of what has gone before. Title – The End End Credits: A Tees Industrial Film Production Directed and edited by T E McLaren Technical assistance and script by Haig-McAlister Ltd. Camera – T Stockton Lighting – L Simpson, T Hodgkinson, W Chown. Commentary – Franklin Engelmann Context An insight into the success of one of Britain’s leading producers of hand knitting yarns when they became a world leader in fashionable knitting patterns in the 1960s. The film not only shows the entire process of producing the finished knitting yarns, but perhaps more interestingly, the painstaking process of testing new designs with dozens of women hand-knitting at impressive speed: everything from toddlers wear to the crochet disco dresses of the Sophisticates range. Established originally in Ossett in 1880 by the Harrap brothers, the woollen company moved a decade later to the Bective Mills Alverthorpe in Wakefield, which is still producing worsted for hand knitting wool. Led by the pioneering figure of Jean Tyrrell (aka Miss Harrap), who took over the running of the company on the death of her father Fred Harrap in 1960, Harraps greatly profited from the use of advertising features in women’s magazines in the 1960s. The company was taken over in 2007 and now, much expanded, trades under the name of Sirdar; which harks back to Britain’s imperialist past, as it was adopted after Lord Kitchener was assigned as Sirdar (leader) of the Egyptian Army in the 1880s.