Home Front Friday: Knit Your Bit
Home Front Friday is a regular series that highlights the can do spirit on the Home Front during World War II and illustrates how that spirit is still alive today!
During World War II you might have had a friend ask you to help the soldiers out by picking up your needles and yarn and knitting your bit. The Red Cross popularized the slogan as early as World War I and then revived it with propaganda, leaflets and campaigns to get people to knit for soldiers.
On the Home Front during World War II, knitting served as one more way Americans could support the war effort. The November 24, 1941, cover story of the popular weekly magazine Life explained “How To Knit.” Along with basic instructions and a pattern for a simple knitted vest, the article advised, “To the great American question ‘What can I do to help the war effort?’ the commonest answer yet found is ‘Knit.’” Thousands of Americans picked up their needles to knit socks, mufflers and sweaters to keep American soldiers warm and provide them with a handcrafted reminder of home.
The Red Cross supplied patterns for sweaters, socks, mufflers, fingerless mitts (which allowed soldiers to keep their hands warm while shooting), toe covers (for use with a cast), stump covers and other garments. Cold, wet, sore feet were the enemy as surely as German or Japanese troops.
“The Navy needs men, but it also needs knitters,” newspapers cried. After the war, some knitters dropped their needles for good. Others kept on knitting throughout their lives in a wide variety of colors — any color, many swore, but Army-issued khaki or olive drab! Today knitting is popular once again and many enjoy the process of creating something useful. Luckily, the spirit of sharing is alive and well too. The Museum has been fortunate enough to be the receiving ground for a great civic service project for the past 8 years, running our own “Knit Your Bit” campaign, so you can send in your hand-made scarves to be distributed to veterans around the country.
Want to get involved?
Posted by Lauren Handley, Education Programs Coordinator at The National WWII Museum