Knitting and Sewing

During WW1 knitting was an important part of life for the soldiers. To receive new knitted clothes was supposedly one of the things that kept the men going. Huge campaigns run by the Red Cross to get people knitting would resonate in Wing. Each Christmas parcel sent to the men at war would contain a knitted garment, dependant on where they were based. Between November 1917 and May 1918 the Village Red Cross Work Party had created:- socks, shirts, pyjamas, mufflers and helmets, 239 garments. Lady Yarborough had also created a War Work Party and that rivalled the amount of garments created by Miss Tatham’s Village. It was an amazing effort on the part of the women, who by that time were working in munitions and also trying to keep the home and deal with the problems of rationing.

The Red Cross published this pattern book Red Cross Volunteers Instructions

In November 2013 a special Silence of Knitting took place from Kent to Australia. The idea was mainly down to the influence of the poet Jessie Pope, who wrote this in

The Knitting Song

Soldier lad, on the sodden ground,
Sailor lad on the seas,
Can’t you hear a little clicketty sound
Stealing across on the breeze?
It’s the knitting-needles singing their song
As they twine the khaki or blue,
Thousands and thousands and thousands strong,
Tommy and Jack, for you.

Click — click — click,
How they dart and flick,
Flashing in the firelight to and fro!
Now for purl and plain,
Round and round again,
Knitting love and luck in every row.

The busy hands may be rough or white,
The fingers gouty or slim,
The careful eyes may be youthfully bright,
Or they may be weary and dim,
Lady and workgirl, young and old,
They’ve all got one end in view,
Knitting warm comforts against the cold,
Tommy and Jack, for you.

Knitting away by the midnight oil,
Knitting when day begins,
Lads, in the stress of your splendid toil,
Can’t you hear the song of the pins?
Clicketty, click — through the wind and the foam
It’s telling the boys over there
That every “woolly” that comes from home
Brings a smile and a hope and a prayer.
Click — click — click,
How they dart and flick,
Flashing in the firelight to and fro!
Now for purl and plain,
Round and round again,
Knitting love and luck in every row.

Socks

Shining pins that dart and click
In the fireside’s sheltered peace
Check the thoughts the cluster thick  –
20 plain and then decrease.

He was brave – well, so was I –
Keen and merry, but his lip
Quivered when he said good-bye –
Purl the seam-stitch, purl and slip.

Never used to living rough,
Lots of things he’d got to learn;
Wonder if he’s warm enough –
Knit 2, catch 2, knit, turn.

Hark! The paper-boys again!
Wish that shout could be suppressed;
Keeps one always on the strain –
Knit off 9, and slip the rest.

Wonder if he’s fighting now,
What he’s done an’ where he’s been;
He’ll come out on top somehow –
Slip 1, knit 2, purl 14

 

The Silence was held and this special message was passed on by all the knitters involved:

‘Amongst the archive of WW1 VAD Nurse Clarice Spratlingis a pattern for Shamrock Lace. The words representing each stitch, each thought, each message. We begin to knit:

Cast cast  cast cast cast cast cast

Knit knit make together together knit make make knit knit

Knit knit knit purl knit knit purl knit knit

Knit knit make together together knit knit knit make make knit knit

Knit knit knit purl knit knit knit knit purl knit knit

Knit knit make together together knit knit knit make make knit knit knit knit

 Knit knit knit knit knit purl knit knit knit knit purl knit knit

Knit knit make together together knit knit knit knit knit knit knit knit knit

 Cast cast cast cast cast cast knit knit knit purl knit knit’

 For more information: http://dawncole.co.uk/project/the-silence-of-knitting/

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