Wartime Knitting – part 1

miniature knitting
© F H Powell 2009

If You Can Knit — You Can Do Your Bit. That was one of the slogans posted around Britain aimed at encouraging the war effort during WWII. Naturally, the various women’s institutes took up the cause but the idea was to spread the message as far a field as possible. To help knitters to do their bit the women were further aided by wool manufacturers producing wool in specially dyed in service colours, such as khaki, navy blue, Air Force blue and grey. Warm clothing was needed not only for service personnel at the front, but also back home for those taking on ARP roles, the Women’s Land Army and Home Guard duties. The main garments required were therefore jumpers, gloves, socks, scarves and balaclavas. Sadly ‘Amputation Covers’ were also required, the need for which hardly bears thinking about. Equally it wasn’t just the men in the forces who were catered for. There were patterns for women, such as those in the WAAF and a pattern booklet dedicated, as the title said, ‘For women in Uniform’.

Many were spurred on by memories of the First World War and great comfort bought to those in the trenches not only from the warmth of the wool but also as tokens of a home life prior to the conflict. Knitted garments from home were as much a morale boost as a way to keep warm. Knitting for Victory wasn’t confined to adults either with many schools teaching girls as young as 4 years old how to make warm clothing for the nights spent in bomb shelters.

But knitting for the war effort was not just a British affair. Americans and Canadians too were being prompted to provide warm clothes for their soldiers. Often Eleanor Roosevelt would be seen knitting for the war effort. Knitting during the early part of the war concentrated on “Bundles for Britain” as a means of help for the Allies. A well known poster of the time stated ‘Remember Pearl Harbour? Purl Harder.’
Pattern featured above is available to buy as an instant download here