Swallow casein knitting needles
made in Australia c.1950s
I learnt to knit using casein knitting needles- casein being an early 20th Century plastic product- they are renowned for being smooth, flexible and comfortable to use. Swallow has been making casein knitting needles since they introduced them to Australia in 1894. Casein is a milk-product, used in cheese making [and – obviously plastics] and as such these knitting needles are biodegradable- an early example of a recyclable product.
Casein lends itself to being coloured with dye- and these lovely 50s knitting needles evidence all the colours possible. Some of these needles were my mother’s- she bought them new in the 50s [some were never used and still have their original packaging] and the rest are additions I’ve found along the way. My stash of casein needles is now quite large! Together with my stash of tortoise shell knitting needles [see earlier posts] I could be considered somewhat of a knitting needle hoarder.
I prefer to sell the needles in groups of 20s- but if you are interested, let me known the colours and sizes you are after in an email.
Tortoise shell is now illegal to sell- and rightly so. Any tortoise shell items must now be described as ‘faux-tortoise shell’ to get around the embargo of selling tortoise shell items. These vintage ‘faux’ tortoise shell knitting needles are much prized by knitters and artists alike and are now very collectable. Knitters like them because they are super flexible and so much easier to work with, and artists refashion the needles into art / jewellery items- see Etsy and Pinterest for examples. Because the material is very pliable, artists use hot water to mould the needles into new shapes/patterns.
I am a knitter myself and love the way the needles work. I’ve been collecting these needles for quite a while now and have amassed a small fortune- email me with what you need and I can send you a comprehensive list of needle sizes/quantities and makers.