Austral - wolmerk

Austral is a registered trademark of yarns produced by a French spinning company: “Filatures Pierre Prouvost”, based in Roubaix. This company was founded around 1937 and closed in 1981.

It belonged to the huge spinning group Prouvost, the most important European spinning company with different yarn brands such as Laines du Pingouin, their major brand. Most of the wool (almost three quarters) came from Australia and New-Zealand: the brand name Austral comes from the name Australia, and the company used the Australian map or a little koala hugging a yarn ball as a logo.


Onlangs benaderde mij een mevrouw, genaamd Christine de Savoie uit Frankrijk.
Zij had een foto gezien van het merk Austral op Twitter van mij. Ze was nieuwsgierig naar de pendikte van het katoenen garen. 
Ik had het idee dat het uit Australie kwam, maar het komt uit Frankrijk en kent een hele geschiedenis. Om haar de credit te geven, voeg ik haar verhaal onderstaand toe. Ze breid zelf heel veel je kunt haar prachtige werk en ontwerpen vinden op Ravelry.

Christine de Savoie

My username is Christine73 and my website is christine73.canalblog.com/

My group at Ravelry.

I am a French knitter, passionate about knitting, Internet and Ravelry.
And cats of course! 
I particularly like color knitting (Fair isle, sl st patterns, mosaic knitting, stripes, short rows etc) and lace, and knitting for children -often for charity. 
I translated many patterns from English to French (free patterns and patterns for sale).

 

Knitting

As far as I know, there was a great aand famous commercial activity with yarn from Middle-Age in the North of France and in Belgium and perhaps Netherlands too, with spinning and weaving – in the Frandres area probably because of sheep breeding. 

In our countries, wool and silk were historically the only fibers used first in weaving (wool), then in knitting (silk and wool) – silk weaving (famous activity in the town of Lyon) appearing later.

Knitting seems to have been invented by the Arabs who brought this technique worldwide thanks to the expansion of Islam:  Egypt (around 640), then Maghreb, then Spain (711), then France where they have been stopped (732). The most ancient pieces, found in Egypt, are dated from 12e century and were knit in cotton.

During Middle-Age, knitting spread throughout Europe thanks to Crusades and business: France, Italy, North of Europe, England, Scotland. Silk (from silk road business) was traditionaly used for rich people of clergy and European royal courts (gloves and all kind of stockings that were worn at this time); the market was dominated by both France and Spain. 

The use of wool was for other social people, and became a true commercial activity from 13e century for stockings too and hats; first, hand knitting by poor people (children too), strongly developed in England by Elizabeth the 1st, then machine knitting. The first machine was invented in 1589 and let knit stockings and jackets;

England dominated the market at the beginning of 17th century with hand knitting, but this market was overtaken by France and Flandres area who used machines.

Religious wars that created people outflow (with their techniques) and Napoleonic wars changed this market. The USA learned to knit thanks to European settlers.

Cotton came in huge amount in Europe from the beginning of 18e century thanks to settlements (especially Dutch ones bases in India) and business with North America. Your country, very famous for quilting, developed a traditional textured knitting in cream white cotton during 17th and 18th centuries; your fishermen began to wear woolen knitted sweaters mid 19th century, either imported from England (traditional ganseys) or Belgium, either locally knit with patterns inspired by Brittish patterns but with a Norwegian shape, often with a collar and 2 pompoms. 


Austral brand

Cotton industry was very developped in the North of France, in the Flandres area. 

Wool industry became prominent replacing cotton industry end of 19th century-beginning 20th century around Roubaix.

There were many factories of yarn, to  comb and spin yarn. In 1851, Amédée Prouvostfounded a combing company that became very important. Then, in 1911, his grandson Jean Prouvost founded a spinning company, the Lainière de Roubaix with spinning factories. The Lainière de Roubaix became more and more important: in 1923, they launched the brand Laines du Pingouin (Pingouin today) that was their main brand becoming an international yarn brand. They built production sites in the USA, they created partnerships or subsidiaries in Spain, South Africa and Brazil. Most of the wool (almost three quarters) came from Australia and New-Zealand, the remaining from Le Cap and Brazil. 

The Lainière de Roubaix then The Prouvost group founded in 1957 the Cie franco-australienne de laines filées (could be something like "French-Australian company of spun wool") associated to the name of their main brand, i.e. Les laines du Pingouin.

The town of Roubaix was called the "world capital of wool" and the Prouvost groupbecame more and more important, with 2 main activities: one in the media and an other one with spinning, with companies for hand knitting and weaving compagnies (knitwear garments, fabrics). To sum up, this Prouvost group (holding) was really very huge with thousands of employees in France. In late 70's and during 80's, hand knitting declined and this huge company finally disappeared after many redundancies. Pingouin was the only resisting company, but the last factory closed in 2000. 

I do not know the degree of relationship of Pierre Prouvost (spinning company of Austral brand) and Jean Prouvost, but many members of this family worked in this group. Austral is a registered trademark of yarns produced by a French spinning company: "Filatures Pierre Prouvost", based in Roubaix. This company was founded around 1937 and closed in 1981.

It belonged to the huge spinning group Prouvost, the most important European spinning company with different yarn brands such as Laines du Pingouin, their major brand.

Most of the wool was imported from Australia and New-Zealand, and the brand name Austral comes from the name Australia. I found 4 different logos, probably succeeding one after another over time; I like to think the koala was the last one. Graphic chart used gold and red colors.

With the characteristic font, either in red, either in gold (an I found one in green...) on the yarn labels.

 

 

I created some entries on Ravelry, and asked for American editors to change the brand Austral yarn into Austral.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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