Thursday, 2 January 2014

Christmas Postscript

A knitter's notebook from World War 2

A friend sent me a package with her Christmas card, containing a little notebook, passed on by a friend of hers, for the Knitting & Crochet Guild collection.  It is leather-bound, quite battered, about 3.5 by 5.5 inches.  It dates from World War 2 - in the first 34 pages, the owner kept a detailed record of what she knitted during the war, for various groups.  In the rest of the notebook, she wrote out knitting patterns, and added extra pages (which are in different hand-writings) - it looks as though the owner continued to use it after the war to record patterns that she thought interesting or useful.  The war-time section is fascinating.  She knitted for a wide range of causes:  Deep Sea Fishermen, Prisoners of War, Russians, the Air Force, Evacuees.  Towards the end of the war, she knitted "for the people of occupied Europe".  She mentions the WVS (Women's Voluntary Service) frequently and I assume that the knitting for many of these causes was co-ordinated by the WVS.  

The notebook records the wool and needle sizes used for every piece of knitting, and occasionally notes that she used 'own wool'.  She keeps careful note of the weight of wool she used, too, and reckons up the total weight used for each batch of knitting.   There were schemes during the war for getting wool off-ration for knitting for the forces and other good causes, though you might still have to pay for it.  I assume that she had wool off-ration for most of the knitting listed - she could not have used her own ration coupons for so much wool.  So maybe 'own wool' means that she paid for it, and otherwise it was provided by the WVS.   I assume too that she was knitting for herself, and her own family, at the same time as for all these good causes - that isn't mentioned in the notebook.  

At the end of the war-time section of the notebook, she lists all the "garments knitted for the Forces during 1940 to 1945".   I think the list actually includes garments knitted for all the other causes as well, not just the forces, because it includes children's garments.   

Complete list of knitting for the Forces, 1940-1945

She knitted 185 garments for the Forces: 

  • 6 pairs cuffs
  • 23 scarves
  • 16 cap-scarves
  • 2 sleeveless pullovers
  • 9 polo-neck jerseys
  • 5 V-neck jerseys
  • 39 pairs gloves (with fingers)
  • 5 pairs steering gloves
  • 3 pairs spiral socks
  • 1 pair hospital socks 
  • 1 pair gum-boot socks
  • 1 pair sea-boot stockings  
  • 45 pairs socks
  • 15 pairs mittens
  • 7 pairs ankle socks
  • 7 balaclava helmets
And 86 children's garments (though these include women's garments too):
  • 21 boy's jerseys and girl's jumpers
  • 1 pullover
  • 8 frocks
  • 4 hats
  • 2 lady's jumpers
  • 9 cardigans (boy's and girl's)
  • 8 pilches
  • 18 vests
  • 3 shawls
  • 5 pairs gloves
  • 1 pair overalls
  • 6 pairs socks (boy's)
A huge achievement for one person.   The rest of the notebook will repay careful reading, I'm sure, but just this first part alone is absolutely fascinating.   


  1. How interesting! You're so fortunate to have come across this notebook, it really is a piece of history! Do you know who the owner was?

    1. So far I don't know anything about the owner, but I hope to find out at least where she was living during the war.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...