Knit and crochet

By Judith Phillips

It’s many years since I did any serious knitting and I have to confess that doing crochet has never been one of skills.  But I decided when thinking about the exhibition based on the project that we ought to include knitting and crocheting as so many people on the Home Front used these skills to make ‘comforts’ for those serving at home and abroad.  The Teesdale Mercury is full of reports of groups getting together to knit gloves, mittens, scarves, helmets, socks and other articles to send to local men (and women, sometimes).  And there are frequent quotations from letters of thanks sent from the front.

‘Knitting for Tommy’ includes several patterns for garments and I was really lucky to find knitters happy to knit socks, gloves and helmets on four needles – it brought back memories of my grandmother teaching me how to turn a heel – so we have several knitted articles in the exhibition.  The Knit and Natter group who meet regularly in the museum agreed to help out with knitting various coloured flowers to add to the community artwork ‘Behind the Trenches’ currently on display in the museum entrance area.  On Thursdays 17 and 31 January, 14 and 28 February they will be meeting in the middle Picture Gallery from about 2.15 to knit, crochet and natter, much as people did a hundred years ago.  And now they’re creating blankets that will go to charities helping ex-service personnel and families affected by 21st century wars.

Have you some time to spare?  And perhaps some odd balls of yarn lying around?  How about making a few blanket squares?  I’ve had a couple of long journeys and several very quiet evenings over the Christmas and New Year break, and I’ve been amazed at what I’ve managed to make – and I’m not a speedy knitter!  I’ve used a basic pattern and then made up variations; you have a free hand in what pattern and variations you use.

Blanket square pattern

Use 3.25mm (No. 10) or 4mm (No. 8) needles and double knitting yarn

Cast on 22 stitches

1st row: Knit 1, purl 1 to end

2nd row: Purl 1, knit 1 to end

Repeat these two rows twice

7th row: knit, 1 purl 1, knit 1 purl 1, knit 16, knit 1 purl 1, knit 1, purl 1

8th row: purl 1, knit 1, purl 1, knit 1, purl 16, purl 1, knit 1, purl 1, knit 1

Repeat these two rows 8 times

25th row: knit 1, purl 1 to end

26th row: purl 1, knit 1 to end

Repeat these two rows twice

Cast off.

Any colour, any pattern welcome! 

As I said, I’m no crocheter, but I’ll happily accept any large or small squares you can make.  Perhaps you have a pattern I could put into another newsletter? 

You can leave squares at Reception in the museum for me.  Or you post them to me at the museum.