Knit Along with American Archives Month
It’s American Archives Month and what better way to celebrate than to knit a pattern from our archival collection?
We thought it would be fun to have a knit-along to make some of the patterns from the Priscilla War Work Book: Comforts for Soldiers and Sailors. During World War I, women, men, and children knit garments from this book for soldiers and refugees. Women formed knitting groups, hosted knitting teas and bees, and children knit in school. By the war’s end the Red Cross had received 6.5 million refugee and 24 million military garments made and donated by American knitters.
We’ve included some of the front matter and a few patterns you can choose from to knit. As you can see, the official colors were olive drab, dark blue, and dark gray, however since we’re not knitting for the army or navy, feel free to choose any colors you like.
We’ve selected a couple patterns for you to choose from or you can knit both!
This Knitted Scarf and Chest Protector (photo is below the pattern, not the one to the left) is a great project for beginners, the gauge and yarn used don’t really matter as you can size this as you like. The scarf was actually made for the Boy Scouts so it is a child’s size, but you can just add more stitches and rows to make it wider and longer if you’d like to make an adult version.
The second pattern is for Thumbless Mittens. These are great because there are two patterns, one to knit flat and one to knit in the round.
A word to those who have not knit vintage patterns: the yarn sizes and needle sizes varied (as you can see in the chart above) and they are not always equivalent to modern sizes so you may need to play with the yarn size and needle size to get the right gauge. Also, to complicate matters, the patterns in this booklet do have a gauge to work off. The thumbless gloves are most likely 6-7 stitches per inch (6 stitches per inch for larger men’s size and closer to 7 stitches per inch for smaller women’s size) knit in sport weight on size 3-5 needles or whatever yarn and needle size needed to get this gauge.
We hope you join us in this Archives Month Knitalong. We’ll have progress posts on Instagram and Twitter where we can all share our project updates and any tips to others working on these.
(All patterns are from Priscilla War Work Book, 2006.0.4.40)
Kathy Makas is a Reference Archivist at The Henry Ford’s Benson Ford Research Center.
World War I, women's history, home life, making, archives, by Kathy Makas