As some of you might know, I work at Arbour House Publishing, who publish Susan Crawford’s vintage knitting patterns and in honour of her new knitting kit which is now available to buy from the knitonthenet shop, I have knitted one of my own. But before you decide whether a turban is your next knitting project, and before I show you mine, here is a short history of the lady’s turban. There are a few already in production.
So, what is a turban? It may not be quite what you think.
Although knitted turbans were all the rage for ladies in the 1940s and had a very practical purpose for wartime women, the style was fashionable far before that.
Although popular in Victorian times, the turban first came to prominence in the twentieth century in 1920 when fashion designer, Paul Poiret created his famous Maharaja Turban, inspired by the Ballet Russe. It was a totally new style of headwear and was the thing to be seen wearing as an avante garde lady in Paris. The turban remained a popular style of hat through the 1930s as it covered and flattered the new shorter hairstyles of the time.
By the late 1930s, war loomed and although hats were not rationed during the Second World War, knitted hats did become fashionable due to shortages in straw and other materials used commonly in hat-making. In 1941, British Vogue described the hat as the ‘traditional tonic’ to cheer in bad times. They particularly recommended the turban as the most practical hat that you could wear, reasoning that ‘when tough winds blow and taxis are scarce, you [will] remain imperturably groomed.’
Seen on workers and ladies of leisure alike, the turban was a mainstay of the war. It was thought to have been popularised by the Parisian milliner, Paulette who was known a the ‘Queen of the Turban’ in later years as her turbans remained very popular with ladies into the 1950s and beyond.
I’ll show you my green Greta soon, but if you’ve been inspired to knit a turban for youself, please do visit the knitonthenet shop where the Greta Turban kits are available to buy for £25 in a range of four colours. Watch out for more new designs which will be added over the coming weeks too. The pattern will also be available as a PDF download very shortly.