Tuesday, January 14, 2014

WWII Watch Cap: Free Pattern and Reflections on the Past

If you follow me on Deviant Art, then you have already seen a little blurb about this free pattern. I was so excited to stumble upon it! I'm a major nerd when it comes to history, so when you add knitting to history, I'm all up in that.

Both of my grandfathers are interested in history, so I knew this would be the perfect project to work up for both of them. I used the same yarn for each of their hats, and included a note regarding the history of this pattern. It went over quite well at Christmas, so I am very pleased.
This pattern is the Classic World War II Watch Cap, derived from Beanie No. 212, Bucilla Yarn Booklet, Volume 318, dated 1940.

Nineteen forty!! I know there are many recorded knitting patterns that are much older than that, but the fact that I followed a pattern that was followed by dedicated women during a time of great worldwide conflict strikes me as amazing. It is estimated that the pattern was knitted at the very least a million times during World War Two. As I was working on these hats, I could not help but feel a connection to the women and girls who had labored over this same hat in hopes of warming up a soldier off fighting overseas.
You know you are jealous of my ammo trunk and med kit
 That's what knitting is all about, right? A connection to the past, as well as a hope for the future. You don't make a sweater for a baby and hope that it never gets used. You hope that the child will outgrow what you made them, and that the sweater will get tucked away for another baby to use when they are born. A piece of the past, and a prayer for the future, all in one.

In the 1940's, factories were dedicated to making uniforms, weapons, and vehicles for the war. Women had to become the machines that cranked out the hats to warm the boys out in the field. How many of them were thinking of one or two men in particular while stitching? How many of them prayed that, in the future, their beloved husbands, sons, and brothers would find their way home? These were the questions that rattled around in my head as I worked on these hats.
 My Grandfathers taught me so much: how to grow anything in your garden, how to make a fishing pole out of a stick, how to treat other people with respect and polite teasing, how to set up a tent and build a campfire, how to work with wood to build a new door, a new bed, a new wall- the list goes on. While I was knitting these hats, my hope for the future was that they would both understand the love, honor, and respect I have for them and their life experiences. I hoped they would see the joy I find in understanding the past and how that joy came from the importance they placed on history when I was young.
I think they understood. <3 br="">
You can find the pattern here.

Happy Tuesday!!
-Carolyn

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