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Friday, December 14, 2007

Yarns (that you can knit or crochet)

The latest issue of Sea History magazine has a wonderful profile of the Seamen's Church Institute's Christmas at Sea program. Knitting and crocheting for sailors has a long tradition, which is still going strong--if you knit or crochet, you still have time to participate! There are patterns available on the Institute's website, but for the more adventurous crafter, "vintage" patterns are becoming widely available.

The V&A 1940s Patterns to Knit site features garments for the armed forces--male and female. The Red Cross Museum has also posted WW2-era patterns for sailors, soldiers, and refugees. Many Red Cross patterns are also available on a volunteer-driven site, The Antique Pattern Library. (Choose the "Catalog" link.) This site is treasure-trove of not only antique patterns, most far older than the 1940s, but their editions often outshine the editions available at other sites.

Take Maud Churchill Nicoll's Knitting and sewing : how to make seventy useful articles for men in the Army and the Navy. This book is available in multiple formats at the Internet Archive and only in Adobe Acrobat .pdf at the Antique Pattern Library.

If you look at p. 23, the image is captioned, "Illustrated wools, actual size and color." The professionally produced e-edition is in black and white. The volunteer produced e-edition is in color. What does it matter? Granted, colors do not reproduce exactly on all computer screens, but color information is often sorely lacking when it comes to the history of sailors' clothing. Texts tell us it was all navy blue and/or olive drab. This page has several different shades of olive, khaki, and ivory--I find that very interesting. Also, take a look at p. 21; which edition presents a higher quality image? Not the professionally produced one.

So pick up some knitting needles or a crochet hook! If not for yourself, how about for a sailor, or even for your local living history program?

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