tisdag 22 september 2015

"General directions for knitted articles"

from "Knitted Articles Officially endorsed by the American Red Cross"

General directions for knitted articles

Stitches should not be cast on too tightly. Knitting should be done evenly and firmly, and all holes (caused by carelessly slipping stitches from one needle to the other) should be avoided.

Joining should be done by splicing or by leaving two or three inches at each end of the yarn to be darned in carefully.

To make an even edge always slip the first stitch of each row when knitting with two needles.

All knots, lumps or other irregularities should be most carefully avoided, especially in socks, as they are apt to blister the feet.

When taking measurements lay work smoothly on table. Do not stretch.

(from "Knitted Articles Officially endorsed by the American Red Cross")

Lucinda Gosling - Knitting for Tommy
I have read two books on knitting during WWI. Lucinda Goslings book "Knitting for Tommy - Keeping the Great War Soldier Warm" is a very interesting read about the almost unbelievable amount of knitting that was done during WWI to support the British troups. 

"Knitting for soldiers and sailors in 1914 became a national pastime - perhaps even a mania. ... Appeals were published in the press, working parties were formed and women's magazines published patterns, often known as 'recipes', for a whole range of knitted garments to provide succour and comfort to men at the front. Knitted comforts soon began to be collected officially by various charities and organisations. Queen Mary's Needlework Guild, which produced an estimated 15.5 million separate items during the war, many of them knitted, requested that all donations  be sent to the collection centre at Friary Court, St James's Palace"
Lucinda Gosling - Knitting for Tommy
Everyone that could (or could learn to), was encouraged to knit for the front. Knitting was going on everywhere; at the theatre, at work during breaks, on the bus, at dinner parties and so on. Not only women knitted. Men at home knitted, children knitted, wounded soldiers at the hospitals knitted. Just about everyone knitted! Poems about knitters were published in magazines. Songs about knitters were composed and played on the radio. Competitions in knitting socks took place. Yarn companies published patterns with instructions and basic information about how to knit.

Before reading this book I knew that there had been knitting for the front during WWI, but I had never understood the amount of it. In many ways I find this book moving. It is impossible to read about this without imagining how tough a situation it must have been both for the men at the front and all the people that for various reasons were still at home. Lucinda Gosling's text is rich on information but apart from that the book also contains loads of pictures of high interest. There is also a chapter on Great War knitting in other countries.
The Priscilla war work book ...
The other book that I read was "The Priscilla war work book, including Directions for Knitted Garments and Comfort Knits from The Americam Red Cross, and Knitted Garments for The Boy Scouts"

This book is a scanned version of the two books referred to in it's title. The quality of the print is not very good, but it is as the publisher says: "We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide."

The Priscilla war work book ...
It is a pity that the quality of the print is not better. But it is possible, with some effort, to read the patterns. Typical patterns are for mufflers, helmets, socks, mittens, gloves and sweaters.

I find the book very interesting and there are items here that would be fun to knit and equally useful today as they were then.

4 kommentarer:

  1. Really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I am not so happy about these publishings... for sure historic research should be done, but this ComingBack of war-culture in difficult political times is problematic for me

    when I read american (US-american) postings about war-knitting, for example in ravelry, I see an unbroken war-enthusiasmus without any reflection about the reasons of war... and that is dangerous.
    Example? One mother knitted camouflage-clothings for a toddler and when I asked her about the reasons, she answered that she is from a soldier-family, if she were from a firebrigade-family she would knit firefighter-clothes...

    I am pacifist. I would never knit such camouflage patterns, I don't think they are fun. These "historic war patterns" are the remainings of a dark periode and we should study the reasons of war instead of the knitting of helmets, baclavas etc, in my opinion

    1. Dear Connie!
      Thank you for your comment. I value that you share your opinion regarding the matter of war-knitting.

      For me, this is part of history and I see no war-enthusiasm in the books that I write about in the post. I am very interested in the history of knitting and I think that there is always something to be learned from history. The fact that knitting was part of everyday life for many people in Europe during WWI is undebatable and I see no reason why we should not study this and learn from it.

      I totally agree that war can be described as a dark period, for all involved, today as well as a hundred years ago. However, I am not of the opinion that knitting-patterns from the period or facts about how people and societies coped with hard times is something that should be withheld from us. All facts learned about this period (or any other period) will always be used, presented or interpreted in different ways by different persons according to their background, belief or agenda. We will have to live with that.

      When I read Gosling’s book I thought that there were many things that we could benefit from reflecting on today. I saw examples of people uniting in a common cause, trying their hardest to help their loved ones with whatever means they had. For me, the women and men that did what they could to help by knitting were not pro-war activists – they tried to do their best in difficult times.

      Unfortunately, today we can find many examples of persons, groups and states that can be described as “war-enthusiasts” and that with no regard to human lives or human rights continue to forward their agendas in various ways. To oppose that we can all choose our own way to work for a better and more peaceful world.

      But I just can’t see where we are to draw the line if we decide that studying, or knitting, the patterns from WWI is considered as boosting war-enthusiasm or war-culture. Many of the items have been knitted both before and after the war. Socks, hats and mufflers for example. The patterns for the soldiers in hospitals and operations rooms tells of the casualties of war in their own way, and gives incentive to contemplate the horrors of war. No room for glory here. No war-enthusiasm.

      When, in your comment, I read the part with the mother knitting camouflage-clothing for her child I understand that it makes you uneasy. But, if parents truly want to make warriors of their children there are other more serious matters to address than which knitting patterns they use in the process.

    2. Dear Lars,

      thank you for your answer.
      Well, my fear is caused by the raising of war topics in the public, in the moment we have a difficult political situation where Cold War is having a renaissance and in my opinion all these war-topics lower the mental inhibitions...

      it is difficult for me as english is not my first language, but let me express my fear that by all these topics we are influenced to get used to war again...

      that is what I want to express

      Cheers, Connie