Brothers Tom and Henry Harrap founded their spinning business in 1880 to supply the hosiery and fabric trade. It was Tom’s son Fred who saw the opportunity in hand knitting and, by the mid-1930’s, the business was exclusively supplying hand knitting yarns to retailers under the brand name Sirdar, meaning leader.
A family affair from the outset, Tom’s grand-daughter Jean Tyrell brought a keen understanding of how to reach Sirdar customers and was responsible for the first Sirdar editorial features in women’s fashion magazines in the 1950s and 1960s.
Mrs Tyrell, as she was known to everyone, became Chief Executive in 1961 and Chairman in 1970 and, under her leadership, Sirdar became one of the most important producers of hand knitting yarns in the world, investing in the latest yarn technology, acquiring Hayfield and growing to 1,200 employees in the seventies.
Mrs Tyrell also understood the importance of convenience, “catering for the busy housewife with yarns that regularly go in the washing machine” and the introduction of synthetic yarn blends, including Sirdar Wash and Wear in the 1970s triggered huge growth.
By the company’s centenary in 1980, Mrs Tyrell, then company chairman, celebrated that Sirdar-branded products alone accounted for 20% of the British hand knitting market, considerably more with Hayfield.
Today you can choose from almost 60 yarns across our Sirdar, Snuggly and Hayfield brands, and our designers regularly reference the fashion originals in our Heritage Collection to create contemporary patterns in trend-led colours to inspire you to pick up your needles or hook and cast on with Sirdar.