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WW2 KnittingAt this time of year, we pause a moment to remember. Remembrance Day in Canada, Veteran’s Day in the US and the birthday of the USMC remind us of the sacrifices made to protect and preserve our freedom. We must never forget.

We’ve been to war since “the big one”, WW2. Technology, politics and sophisticated modern warfare have put a strange, psychological distance between us and actual combat, even when we have unprecedented access to news, photos and video. Whether it’s due to the demise of the draft or to the increasing volume of legitimized dissent, we don’t, sadly, take a personal interest in our fighting forces. At least, not like this.

Classroom Knitting WW2

Child Knitting WW2Canada joined the fray in 1939, before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My mother would have been 6 years old and that is when, and how, she learned to knit. Imagine a child of six toiling away with sticks and scratchy string knowing that her little dropped stitches would warm the feet of an unknown man suffering in an unknown land? That’s how it was, though. With almost every family sacrificing a member to the war, they were much closer emotionally to the fighting over seas. 

They ‘knit their bit’. “Knit for Victory” was a huge campaign because it was utterly necessary. Factories and the fuel that powered them were re-appropriated to build planes, guns and bombs. There was simply no other way to produce the garments needed by the war effort. Everyone participated. Children, women, veterans, all contributed by making hats, sweaters, blankets, covers for feet in casts and amputated limbs. They knit socks in navy blue or olive drab; cold, wet and blistered feet on fighting men were as terrible an enemy as any opposing army.

Knit for Victory

So, as we take a quiet moment to thank those who fought and died for us, lets not forget the little knitters. Let’s be grateful that we have a lovely skill that has strength and healing in it.

Here are the Red Cross patterns for gloves and socks from the American Red Cross as they were originally issued, typed out with carbon paper and distributed among knitters all over the world.

Red Cross Knitting

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