Sunday, January 29, 2006

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.


Blogger Knitty Gritty Thoughts said...

This is the first time I found your blog, I clicked over from Little Birds...

Just wanted to chime in and let you know I found your links interesting and the story of them saving their money for body armour amusing.

I knit for the troops, for my very own soldier, my husband who just returned 2 weeks ago from a deployment (>1 yr) in Iraq. He has handmade washclothes and tons of bootsocks and hats all knit by me so he has a little piece with him whenever he goes out to know I'm thinking of him.

I've entertained other ideas of knitting for the larger group of troops. I can't say if there's a need or not, I do know my husband likes his helmet liner and found it very useful. In the summers it gets up to >125degrees, and I couldn't even imagine wearing wool. However, in the winters it gets cold, their heaters break down and they may not have running water. Then, I think many would find it a truly thoughtful gift.

Ok, just my 2 cents, had to chime in :)
Happy Knitting!

12:42 AM  
Blogger Suse said...

Just rediscovering your blog, via yarnstorm, after a couple of months' absence.

It's nice to be back and visit another Melbourne blogger.

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow -- she lit the lawn on fire. That is one powerful image. I don't think I'll forget that one.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI - The National World War II Museum in New Orleans has revived the Knit Your Bit movement. But this time, the scarves are going to Vets. For more info -

6:26 AM  

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