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The original hoodie

Needles are flying as Wairarapa knitters lean into winter – with one special New Zealand pattern for babies a-hood of the rest.

Shepherd pattern #759 – a knitted jacket with a stretchy hood – has been sold in New Zealand since the 1970s and knitted for generations of New Zealand babies.

Often seen at craft markets and in yarn shops, the jacket is a popular gift from mothers, grandmothers and clever friends to the fresh generation of wool wearers – with the same pattern used for boys and girls.

Janice Dagg, of Eketāhuna, is the Wairarapa-Times Age and Midweek expert knitter. Janice, who works as a newspaper page designer, says she has knitted dozens of #759.

“My grandmother taught me to knit when I was about eight years old. I find it therapeutic and there’s great satisfaction when a garment is finished. I just love it. I knit with the TV on – my armchair must be at the right height, as it affects how I rest my arms.”

Janice has made the jacket in many colours: “I’ve done lots of blues, some pink, and grey for twin boys, as you can put lots of colours underneath – the pattern is designed to allow the jacket to grow with the child, it’s so stretchy.”

Janice taught all three of her sons to knit when they were young and made sure they learned how to sew on a button.

“You do need some experience to knit the baby jacket and sometimes people get confused with the pattern but it really is just ‘knit and purl, knit and purl’ and counting your stitches.”

Janice happily knits the jacket for family, friends and colleagues.

“People just turn up with the wool and I think, ‘yay, I have an excuse to knit one of these again’. The pattern is still going strong.” Needles are flying as Wairarapa knitters lean into winter – with one special New Zealand pattern for babies a-hood of the rest.

Shepherd pattern #759 – a knitted jacket with a stretchy hood – has been sold in New Zealand since the 1970s and knitted for generations of New Zealand babies.

Often seen at craft markets and in yarn shops, the jacket is a popular gift from mothers, grandmothers and clever friends to the fresh generation of wool wearers – with the same pattern used for boys and girls.

Janice Dagg, of Eketāhuna, is the Wairarapa-Times Age and Midweek’s expert knitter, Janice, who works as a newspaper page designer, says she has knitted dozens of #759.

“My grandmother taught me to knit when I was about eight years old. I find it therapeutic and there’s great satisfaction when a garment is finished. I just love it. I knit with the TV on – my armchair must be at the right height, as it affects how I rest my arms.”

Janice has made the jacket in many colours: “I’ve done lots of blues, some pink, grey for twin boys, as you can put lots of colours underneath – and the pattern is designed to allow the jacket to grow with the child, it’s so stretchy.”

Janice taught all three of her sons to knit when they were young and made sure they learned how to sew on a button.

“You do need some experience to knit the baby jacket and sometimes people get confused with the pattern but it really is just ‘knit and pearl, knit and pearl’ and counting your stitches.”

Janice happily knits the jacket for family, friends and colleagues.

“People just turn up with the wool and I think, ‘yay, I have an excuse to knit one of these again’. The pattern is still going strong.”

 

Yvonne Etherington, who has owned yarn shops in Masterton since the 1980s, said the original pattern #759 is the same but now comes in three sizes, to include older babies and toddlers.

“I used to have people coming into the shop about once a week to buy wool to knit the Shepherd jacket, known simply as ‘759’,” she said. “It’s still very popular.

“The biggest change has been colour – the jacket used to be white, blue, or pink but now it’s knitted in dozens of colours, as the range of baby wool expands.”

Yvonne’s Kidswear and Woolmart in Queen St is enjoying steady winter custom, with one wall of the shop packed with baby wool in a rainbow of colours.

Baby jacket #759 is often knitted in 8-ply yarn, though some knitters prefer the lighter 4-ply for new babies, she said.

Shepherd of New Zealand was incorporated into Australian Country Spinners in 2000. Prior to that, Shepherd yarns were produced by Alliance Textiles in the South Island.

Midweek appealed for photographs of Wairarapa babies wearing the classic jacket and received almost 70 comments and photos on our Facebook page – solid proof that the jacket is still a favourite.

One question remains – who was the smiling baby pictured on the classic Shepherd pattern #759 and where are they now? Yvonne Etherington, who has owned yarn shops in Masterton since the 1980s, said the original pattern #759 is the same but now comes in three sizes, to include older babies and toddlers.

“I used to have people coming into the shop about once a week to buy wool to knit the Shepherd jacket, known simply as ‘759’,” she said. “It’s still very popular.

“The biggest change has been colour – the jacket used to be white, blue, or pink but now it’s knitted in dozens of colours, as the range of baby wool expands.”

Yvonne’s Kidswear and Woolmart in Queen St is enjoying steady winter custom, with one wall of the shop packed with baby wool in a rainbow of colours.

Baby jacket #759 is often knitted in 8-ply yarn, though some knitters prefer the lighter 4-ply for new babies, she said.

Shepherd of New Zealand was incorporated into Australian Country Spinners in 2000. Prior to that, Shepherd yarns were produced by Alliance Textiles in the South Island.

Midweek appealed for photographs of Wairarapa babies wearing the classic jacket and received almost 70 comments and photos on our Facebook page – solid proof that the jacket is still a favourite.

One question remains – who was the smiling baby pictured on the classic Shepherd pattern #759 and where are they now?

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