During the First World War there were many efforts to knit for soldiers, and it became a nationwide campaign involving women, men, children, and even prisoners. Anybody who could knit was encouraged to make garments for soldiers, and young children were taught how to knit in school to increase production even further.
One of the most notable events however took place on 31st July 1918, and was a three-day knitting bee held in Central Park in New York. It was headed by the Comforts Committee, with the sole purpose of creating garments for soldiers fighting in World War One. Over the three days there were knitting competitions for speed and agility, and so many people attended that one chairwoman said “the click of the needles could be heard all the way to Berlin.”
According the The New York Times, the fastest knitter was named Mrs. Ethel Rizzo and she managed to complete a sweater in only 6 hours. Even more winners included four blind people, an 83 year old lady, and four children younger than 11 years old. Hundreds of garments including socks, sweaters and mufflers were made and sent to the soldiers, and nearly $4,000 was raised (equivalent of $70,000 today).
The campaign was termed ‘knit your bit’ and the efforts continue for soldiers and veterans to this day. If you’d like to get involved and knit your bit, you can download patterns from the National WWII Museum and find out where to send your finished garments: https://www.nationalww2museum.org/programs/knit-your-bit
Do you know of any knitting stories HiyaHiya Europe should research and write about in an upcoming history post? Let us know in the comments below.