Australian dress register ID:533
Owner:Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
Owner registration number:86/1156 - 86/1171
Date range:1932 - 1938
Place of origin:Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia
This collection of Myra Mogg’s knitwear, consisting of three jumpers, gloves, court shoes overlaid with knitting and a hat, is a superb example of fine hand knitting with Australian provenance, in excellent, near-mint condition.
Ms Myra Mogg (1906-1967) of Mudgee was an expert knitter who designed and made her own clothes, often ensembles consisting a tunic, gloves and shoes. She had the ability to knit so fine it at times utterly bewildered judges of the annual shows and knitting competitions she entered throughout the 1930s and 40s. She even invented the knitted hem, as can be seen on her black and floral jumper (86/1163).
The 1920s saw an increase in the popularity of knitwear in the western world. Knitwear, especially jumpers, became an essential part of the new fashions of the age for men, women and children. Additionally, the hardships of the Depression meant many turned to knitting through necessity; it was cheaper to knit than to buy hand (or even machine) knitted products.
Normal knitting with three ply wool averages approximately eight stitches and ten rows to the inch according to a Daily Mirror article from 1949 on Myra Mogg’s prize-winning work, and Ms Mogg’s jumpers averaged 17 stiches and 24 rows to the inch. Ms Myra Mogg’s knitwear also displays evenness of tension, shape, finishing, originality in style, colour combination and design, as well as at times new stitches or methods of finishing seams (see knitted hem).
A Sun News Pictorial article on the Sun Woolcraft Contest, in which Miss Myra Mogg won first prize (£5) reads that Miss Mogg and other knitters’ workmanship was of such a high standard that “in the majority of sections the first prize-winning entries could not possibly be faulted”.
This collection is significant for its condition, as well as its contextualisation by complementary donations made by Mrs Nada E. Norman Elliot (the daughter of Myra’s sister, Nina); of press clippings, design books, letters and steel knitting needles. These items combine as a comprehensive rendering of Ms Mogg and the knitting culture that existed in the first half of the twentieth century.
Information on the knitting process, from de-plying and dying wool to the needles used is fascinating, it is extremely rare and valuable for such information to have survived beyond the lifetime of the maker. Author: Eloise Maree Crossman, 31/07/2014.
A collection of knitwear, knitted by Myra Mogg over the course of the 1930s (specifically, 1932, 1935 and 1938).
There is a long-sleeved, purple wool jumper (86/1156) with a stand collar, self belt (with brass buckle trim) and flapped pockets, as well as a back neck opening (also with a brass closer and brass caplet-shaped buttons down the back). It has mauve panels on the shoulders, chest, back and pockets, and was knitted on steel lace needles (and possibly bike spokes) in 1932.
There is also a lime green wool jumper (86/ 1160), slightly fitted with a high round neck, flared bell sleeves and a deep ribbed waist band. It has black and pale yellow chevron stripes across the body and sleeves, and was knitted in 1935.
There is a long-sleeved black jumper (86/1163) with deeply inset sleeves, a front neck opening and a small stand collar. The sleeves have an all over pattern of pink and yellow flowers on space-dyped green stem and meander. There is also a waist tie of black plied yarn with knotted tassels painted with faces, almost as if gumnut blossom babies. This jumper was knitted in 1938.
In addition to these three jumpers, there are elbow-length, lime green knitted gloves (86/1161) (to be worn with (86/1160), court shoes overlaid with green knitting (86/1162.1 and .2) (also to be worn with 86/1160); a black felt hat (86/1164) (to be worn with 86/1163), black knitted gloves (86/1165) (to be worn with 86/1163) and court shoes overlaid in black and floral-embroidered knitting (86/1166) (also to be worn with 86/1163).
Link to further information about this object
History and Provenance
Myra Mogg (born the 20th of September 1906- 21st of June 1967), the daughter of Mr and Mrs M. M. Mogg of Loch Leven, Mudgee, and affectionately called ‘Honey’ by family and friends, was born and lived in Mudgee all her life.
Her family lived at Lawsons Creek near Mudgee and Miss Mogg and her sister, Nina (later Nina Falconer, the donor Nada E. Norman-Elliot mother) went to school in Mudgee.
According to a Barrier Miner, Broken Hill article from 1932 (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46654216), Myra began knitting at the age of seven, however Mrs Norman-Elliot could not recall who taught Ms Mogg to knit. She did relate, however, that a local woman and lacemaker, Mrs Kellett, had heard Miss Mogg was experimenting with fine knitting and looking for finer needles, and so she gave her some steel lace needles. Some of Ms Mogg’s steel lace needles were over 100 years old (as stated in Daily Mirror and the Sun News Pictorial articles), while others are believed to be bike spokes (or at the least, bike-spoke like, according to Fay Scifleet, a neighbour of the Mogges and friend of Nina’s and Myra’s).
Myra Mogg was the first woman in the 1930s to have an office job in Mudgee. She was the President Secretary of the Cudgegong Shire, Mudgee (according to Fay Scifleet); Myra was quite the focal point of conversation and admiration for this. As Ms Mogg lived on a farm, and in those days there was no public transport, she walked the seven kilometres to and from work each day and it was on these long walks that she did her knitting.
Myra Mogg invented the knitted hem (more information in 'Wider Historical Context'). For this, and other achievements, Ms Mogg won various knitting and embroidery competitions, with plenty of certificates to her name. Certificates are largely from the annual shows of pastoral and agricultural associations and branches of the Country Women’s Association in the Central West of New South Wales, but also included are certificates from competitions run by Sydney retailers Sydney Snow Ltd and Edward Arnold Ltd, and Melbourne competitions run by The Sun News Pictorial and the Women’s Centenary Council.
Births, deaths, marriages, children or family information
Fay Scifleet also recalls that Myra was an opinionated woman, and a strong advocate of women’s rights. She remembers her to be “a very masculine type of person”, wearing just plain cotton day dresses without frills or other feminine trims. “She believed, passionately,” remembers Fay “when driving her little [Ford] Prefect car, that she had the right of way regardless… that more or less tells you what she was like”.
Nada E. Norman Elliot described Myra as an ‘Aunty Mame’ character, according to notes taken from a telephone conversation between Mrs Norman Elliot and Louise Pether (former senior curator of Exhibitions, the Museum of Contemporary Art), in early July of 1998. Myra was an independent, avant guard woman, who excelled in many creative endeavours in addition to knitting, such as singing, painting, drawing and gardening.
Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?
In the 1930s, only black, white or grey wool was commercially available (as claimed by Nada E. Norman-Elliot), so Myra and her sister Nina dyed wool themselves. They also un-plyed wool to make it thin enough for Myra’s designs.
Miss Mogg would design the patterns herself, and her sister Nina would graph them out in colour, then they were typed up.
How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?
Myra Mogg invented the knitted hem. Ms Myra Mogg submitted a jumper to the British Empire Knitting Competition in Melbourne in the 1930s (see press clippings in 'Additional Material'). Apparently, this jumper and in particular its hem are so fine that judges wanted to cut it to see if it really was hand and not machine knitted. However Miss Mogg explained on the phone- step by step- exactly how it was done, and so they gave her the prize.
Where did this information come from?
Trove, various press clippings (most included within this entry), the Powerhouse Museum's 'Guide to the Myra and Nina Mogg Archive' (http://images.powerhousemuseum.com/images/pdfs/320839.pdf ), object files, and conversations with Fay Scifleet
This garment has been exhibited
Pieces previously exhibited at the Powerhouse Museum, as well as a display of the Museum's wool collection at the National Historical Machinery Association Rally in Mudgee in April 2013. This created great interest amongst the locals.
Place of origin:
Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia
(The donor of the collection, Mrs. Nada E. Norman-Elliott, is the niece of the maker Myra; the collection remained in the family's possession until donation)
Myra Mogg knitted for enjoyment and amusement, as well as for competition. Her purple jumper, for example, won the Empire Knitting Competition, judged in Melbourne, of 1934.
She also entered the Country Life Knitting Competition, Sydney, 1932, the Sun Woolcraft Contest, Melbourne, 1939, and the Daily Mirror and Truth Knitting Competition, Sydney, 1949 and perhaps many other contests.
Trimmings / Decoration
All of Myra Mogg's knitwear is highly decorative. If not embroidered (as 86/1163 and 1166 are), it is panelled, brass-buckled and cuff-linked (as 86/1156 is), chevron striped, adorned with bows (as 86/1160 is), couched in contrast colours and buckled around the wrist (as 86/1161 is), striped (as 86/1162 is), collared, tassled and or space-dyed (as 86/1163 is) or so on.
Floral embroidery on black knitted jumper and shoes (86/1163 and 1166)
All of Myra Mogg's knitwear is personally hand-knitted. Her hand-knitting was so exact and unerring that she was often charged with using a machine at knitting competitions.
- Hand sewn
- Machine sewn
Brass buckles, caplet-shaped buttons and trims adorn the purple jumper
- Hook and eye
|jumper||Second Jumper||Third Jumper|
|Neck||150 mm||185 mm||135 mm|
|Chest||425 mm||460 mm||435 mm|
|Waist||425 mm||330 mm||425 mm|
|Cuff||95 mm||305 mm||115 mm|
|Front neck to hem||615 mm||560 mm||620 mm|
|Back neck to hem||625 mm||575 mm||630 mm|
|Sleeve length||565 mm||385 mm||615 mm|
|Neck to sleeve head||150 mm||135 mm||85 mm|
|Convert to inches|
The measurements for the first jumper are for the purple wool jumper, the second for the lime green jumper, and the third for the black and floral jumper.
Articles, publications, diagrams and receipts descriptions
Barrier Miner, Broken Hill article from 1932 (http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46654216)
Powerhouse Museum's 'Guide the Myra and Nina Mogg Archive http://images.powerhousemuseum.com/images/pdfs/320839.pdf
All knitwear in near-mint condition except for the purple jumper, which has minor soiling (as can be seen in photographs)
- Iron stains