Knit Your Bit
During WWII, my grandmother was an enthusiastic supporter of troops conducting night-time flight training outside her town. At first, the local townswomen handed hot drinks and baked goods through the barbed-wire fence to the famished airmen, most no more than boys. Before long however, the women had browbeaten the military higher-ups into allowing them to commander a shed on site, and a borrowed car enabled them to provide an elaborate spread every night. Eventually, my grandmother’s enthusiasm turned to horror as first, her only brother was killed, then her husband signed up, leaving her with two small girls and my mother, a newborn baby. In an incomplete memoir she left behind, my grandmother remembered not being able to take care of the overgrown lawn. She decided to set it on fire.
For the duration of the war, she knit for the servicemen. Patterns she might have used are available here and here. It’s hard to imagine my grandmother complying with the Army’s strict olive drab colourway, but this article describes how anything not knit to specification was ripped back and the yarn re-used.
I can’t work out if I’m ashamed not to have knitted anything for the troops in Iraq or elsewhere. Have you? Is there a need? This site suggests so, and provides a pattern for a knitted helmet liner. It looks itchy to me, but then perhaps itchiness is the least of one’s problems when wearing bulletproof Kevlar headgear.
Last year, I read a Talk of the Town piece in The New Yorker about a group of parents in New York who galvanized around the need to provide their school security guard with adequate body armour for his upcoming service in Iraq. This struck me as both touching, and quintessentially upper-crust New York. If I remember correctly, one mother noted that body amour only provides so much security, but the parents couldn’t come at paying for a personal amoured vehicle.
But they did something. I hope their security guard returned home safe.