Published on May 25th, 2009 | by Kelly Rand


Knitting for Victory

In remembrance and in honor of all that are and have served in the U.S. military on this Memorial Day, it only seemed fitting to recall knitting efforts that have taken place during war times past.

During WWI and again in WWII, women and families picked up knitting needles to help in the war effort. The American Red Cross organized many volunteer groups that knit various items for soldiers serving overseas. Socks, sweaters, helmet liners, scarfs, caps and blankets were just a few of the items that were knit up and shipped to those serving.

During WWII, the knitting effort was further encouraged and women were told to “knit for defense” and “knit for victory.” Patterns and tutorials were readily made available to those who wanted to feel like they were contributing during this trying time, even First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was seen supporting the war effort in this way.

The America Red Cross has made available the patterns used from both World Wars, Life magazine filed a story on how to knit during WWII, and you can even read an entry in the New York Times from 1917 on how to knit and crochet five different patterns.

Today, there are many such efforts still in operation. With war still raging on two fronts, CitizenSAM and The Ships Project, are two such organizations that have patterns and instructions available for those who want to contribute. Soldier’s Angels also has a long list of charities that provide more than hand knitting items in case baking or sewing is more your speed.

CitizenSAM has provided over 23,000 helmet liners and 52,000 neck coolers and more are needed everyday. These projects seem very appropriate to put your crafty talent to use, especially on this Memorial Day.

[Image courtesy The Ships Project]

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About the Author

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting. Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.

7 Responses to Knitting for Victory

  1. Pingback: Knitting for Victory

  2. NMPatricia says:

    Thanks so much for posting this. The CitizenSAM is a great site and gives me ways of supporting our troops and feeling useful.

  3. Elizabeth B says:

    This is lovely. Thank you so much for posting it.

  4. tremundo says:

    Great post and so glad you shared the history and the links! Thank You!

  5. Ina says:

    Fascinating history lesson. Thanks so much!

  6. Chris says:

    Please add the Socks For Soldiers, Inc., website as we are a dedicated group of knitters who are knitting regulation and leisure socks for soldiers, plus caps for under the helmets and for leisure use. We also donate “goodies” that are needed by the soldiers.


    Thank you!

  7. Cerise says:

    Thanks so much for this post! Though I’m very anti war I do feel that supporting those in combat and those who have come home is still very important. Now I can get involved in helping! : )

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