Knitting for Victory: Transatlantic Propaganda in WWI & WWII

Kitchener Wants You...to knit socks

British general Lord (later Earl) Herbert Kitchener, formally dressed in a military uniform, bids citizens to join their nation’s army and fight for God, king, and country.  The ideology at work here? If you are a man, it is your duty as a patriotic citizen to enlist.  Women also have a patriotic duty to support the war effort.  Often, women at home were encouraged to knit, or younger single women might take up nursing.  Kitchener encouraged women to knit for the war effort, contributed a pattern to aid their efforts, and even formulated a solution to a common problem that soldiers had with hand knitted socks.  Since socks were usually knitted from the cuff down to the toe, the toe of the sock was closed with a seam that created a bulky and uncomfortable ridge inside the sock.  Kitchener devised a method of grafting the top and bottom stitches together at the toe, duplicating the existing stiches and creating a neat and undetectable seam.  Known as Kitchener Stitch, this method of grafting remains popular with knitters.

Lord Kitchener Wants You

Kitchener Wants You

This reprint of a WWI sock pattern was distributed by the Red Cross on both sides of the Atlantic.  It contains step-by-step instructions for knitting socks serviceable for soldiers, including directions for the Kitchener stitch in the second to last paragraph. 

 

Red Cross Soldiers&#039; Socks<br /><br />

Knit for sock-cess!