During the First and Second World Wars, hundreds of thousands of Canadians supported the troops by knitting massive quantities of socks, stockings, balaclavas, caps, sweaters and other badly needed comfort items. Now, in honour of Canadian War Museum's special exhibition World War Women, presented from October 23 to April 3, it is calling on modern-day knitters to help fill a First World War supply wagon with handmade woollies (see our Facebook page for pictures!).
Keeping the troops warm and dry was such an important part of the war effort that women on the home front were encouraged to knit as much as they could. The Canadian Red Cross distributed knitting patterns, while prominent social figures, church groups and women’s associations organized knitting circles. It became a common sight to see people of all ages and occupations — housewives, schoolchildren and even male hospital patients — working on knitting projects for the army, navy and air force, as well as for civilian refugees.
The Canadian Red Cross estimates that 750,000 volunteers knit 50 million articles during the Second World War.
So here is the Canadian War Museum's Canada-wide challenge to you: send or bring them your hand-knit socks, hats, mitts, scarves and other items until January 31. The museum will tally the items and announce how it compares. The museum may not match the wartime output, but it can try!
At the end of the project, IODE Canada, a national women’s charitable organization that supported wartime knitting (among many other things!), will distribute the donated knit goods to organizations that need them.
This challenge is complete!
The Canadian War Museum's final tally in the knitting challenge they launched in November 2015:
- Number of items received: 1841
- Farthest location an item was sent from: England (California a close second)
- Provinces we received items from: British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland.
Thank you to everyone who participated! You have until April 3 to visit the exhibition World War Women.