Thursday, 4 April 2013

Children and Knitting

I have been looking at a lot of patterns in trying to plan my vintage wardrobe, and I keep finding amazing knitting patterns.  In the 1930s, it seems, they knitted everything  including swimwear and evening dresses!  I have been inspired by these patterns  and also by some of the other blogs I read where talented bloggers have shown off their creations.

Livie concentrating on her knitting
I have decided to start with something simple - a scarf (more on that next week).  I may get it finished before winter.  Also, as it's school holidays here, in between going to the beach and park and catching up on essential movie watching, I am teaching the children (7,7,11 & 16) how to knit.  Well, most of them - Ethan thinks it's just for girls, so I have been trying to find photos of boys knitting for him.

Boys knitting in Owosso, Michigan, 1943

Boys knitting during WWI.

During both World Wars, families on the 'home front' were encouraged to make useful items for the military forces, particularly knitted clothing such as gloves, mitten, hats, scarves and socks. Cold, wet, sore feet were the enemy as surely as German or Japanese troops. Socks wore out much faster than sweaters, and needed changing many times more frequently (have you smelt wet socks?). Not only did knitting provide a supply of homely and practical clothing for the forces, it gave anxious people at home something to focus on, and a sense that they were making a contribution.

Knitting club of young Canadian children during WWI.
Knitters were given detailed instructions that came in booklets of patterns approved by the armed forces. And of course, they used approved yarn in the right colours - mainly navy, black and dark green.

Guide to knitting, 1940
Even small children learned to knit, sometimes just small knitted squares that could be sewn together by mother or grandma, and made into afgans or lap rugs for recovering soldiers at military hospitals.
So this is what my children are aiming for - we'll knit lots of squares, hopefully mastering a new stitch with each one, and join them together to make a rug.

First grade girls knitting, 1941
And just to make sure everyone was knitting, the propaganda guys got busy, even using children in their posters.
 "At my school, I am also fighting the was because I have adopted a soldier!" 
Today knitting for soldiers and veterens is still encouraged, through programs such as 'Knit your Bit' in New Orleans, who are asking people to knit scarves. In Australia there are various knitters guilds, such as the one in NSW which has a list of charities to knit for. I don't know that we'll be up to knitting for charity any time soon, but it may be a great way of getting children in school to learn to knit again. Even the boys.

Do you knit?

Deb xx

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