"BEST GUEST POSTS"
As promised, Karen Ballard is back as my guest to inform and educate us about attitudes about crochet during the World War II era. If you missed her first article which focused on World War I, you can access it here.
After about 25 years of collecting World War Workbasket Campaign items associated with doing needlework for service personnel, wounded, refugees and patriotic home-front, I have amassed a very large WWII collection. Included are books, magazines, individual patterns, posters, sheet music, postcards, knitting bags; and yes, even a small number of patriotic crocheted items. While knitting patterns abound, there are extremely few crochet patterns, even fewer than those found for WWI and I have found no explanation for this.
Out of 21 U.S. knitting books containing patterns for service men, only W. Newbold Ely, Pointers for Crocheting and Knitting has a single crocheted helmet (like a ski mask) for service men.
Out of 44 individual patterns published by American Red
Cross (ARC), Bundles for Britain (organized in New York before the U.S. entered
the war), Bundles for Bluejackets (this organization changed its name to
Bundles for America, early in the war, retaining a Bundles for Bluejackets
Naval Division), and Citizens’s Committee for Army and Navy, only one pattern
is crocheted: a Woman’s circular shawl for refugees. (similar to the shawl pattern for WWI
|Ely Crocheted Helmet|
No WWII British crochet patterns were found, and out of 6 Canadian Red Cross booklets only the one for babies and children has a couple crochet patterns. One French-Canadian knitting magazine contains a crocheted serviceman’s sweater pattern.
One French magazine has a crocheted helmet.
An Australian Red Cross Society Knitting Book
includes a crocheted Bed Socks pattern and an Aussie knitting book
has a crocheted scarf pattern.
|Serviceman's Sweater Pattern|
|French Crocheted Helmet|
While the above may sound like a lot of crochet patterns, please note that this is all of the crochet patterns found among hundreds of knitting and sewing patterns for service personnel, wounded and refugees.
No posters, postcards, sheet music, etc. depict or refer to crochet. The only photos of WWII crochet I have seen are two photos of Women’s Army Corps volunteers having a crochet party.
|Women's Army Corps crochet party|
Evidence of WWII patriotic home-front crocheting is a little more easily found than for functional crocheted military/wounded/refugee garments at least for the USA. There are women’s and children’s clothing patterns with designs influenced by military uniforms and the pictured lady’s stylized tricorne hat, reminiscent of the American Revolution.
in Winter 1941-42 McCall's Needlework magazine and the Winter 1943-44 issue has an ad for crocheted pot holders with patriotic emblems,
as well as an article and another ad exhorting readers to “conserve with crochet.”
Other crocheted home-front items include: a cotton single-star service flag, a cotton “V for Victory” doily, a rayon Eagle & Shield doily
and a red/white/blue rayon “gimp” homemade brooch pincushion-hat with hanging thimble-pouch (pictured in the center); perfect for wearing to an ARC sewing bee!
Perhaps exemplifying attitudes toward wartime crochet is this United States Rubber Company advertisement, stating “Once you used it [crochet thread] for bedspreads, now it makes the machine gun belts our fighter pilots use,” clearly implying that during war we no longer crocheted.
On January 8, 1945, Life magazine ran a cover story on “Fancy
Crochets Jaunty, Stylish Clothes” designed by Greta Plattry, a 1937 emigre from Germany who “reintroduced” American women to crocheted fashions.
|1941 War Effort|
|Life magazine -January 8, 1945|
---. MarieClaire. No. 154, February 9, 1940, Canada (includes Un Beau Chandail au crochet).
---. McCall Needlework Winter 1941-42 (includes crocheted patriotic lapel pins pattern).
---. McCall Needlework Winter 1943-44 (includes ad for crocheted tricorne hat and patriotic pot holders).
---. Tricot Roman 1 Dec 1939 “Pour nos Soldats”, France (includes a Passe – Montagne au crochet helmet).
American Red Cross, pattern ARC 400-15, June 1940 Woman’s Black Circular Shawl, Washington, DC, USA.
Australian Red Cross Society, Australian Red Cross Society Knitting Book (includes crocheted Bed-Socks), Australia.
Canadian Red Cross, Red Cross Knitting Instructions for War Work No. 3, Knitted Comforts for Babies & Children, March 1941, Toronto, Canada
Ely. W. Newbold. Pointers for Crocheting and Knitting 1st edition, 1943, USA.
Hoyer, Mary. Mary’s Dollies Vol. No. 6, USA (including Wavette & RC Nurse).
Hoyer, Mary. Mary’s Dollies Vol. No. 9, USA (including “Miss Victory”).
Patons & Baldwins’ Specialty Book No. 122 (n.d.) Melbourne & Sydney, Australia (includes crocheted scarf pattern).
Spool Cotton Company. Crochet your Victory Barnyard No. 204, 1943, USA.