Knitting group brings back WWI wear

Jon SolmundsonGeraldton Guardian
A knitting club member shows off the WWI trench cap.
Camera IconA knitting club member shows off the WWI trench cap. Credit: Rosetta Finlay

The QEII Knitters and Crocheters Group has woven a few lost strands of time back into existence, creating new garments from patterns designed for WA troops in the trenches of World War I.

The group took on the project to contribute to the “Remembering Them” exhibit at Birdwood House, with the knitted items to be displayed alongside the pattern book, which has been in Geraldton since it was distributed as part of the war effort.

Group co-ordinator Irene Shephard said RSL historian Barry Stinson had approached the group with the request to bring the items back to life.

“It was a little book, about A4 size, with diagrams and instructions to knit these items for the soldiers overseas,” she said.

“So all the knitting has been done from the original books, (Mr Stinson) had it photocopied so we could distribute among members, and we have competent knitters so we were confident we could fit the bill to deliver one of each item.

“He even ended up with two pairs of socks, so one has gone to a museum in Perth.”

Ms Shephard said some of the items were quite unusual.

“I tell you what they’re quite funny, nothing like what we do today,” she said.

“What was called ‘bed socks’ are like wellington boots with buttons up the side we suspect they were for soldiers who had dressings on their wounds, that’s the only reason we could think they had buttons.

“Then these balaclavas, if you were dressed up in these I’d say you’d be more fit to rob a bank.”

Mr Stinson, who had been shown the patterns from an old Red Cross booklet, thanked the group for the work, and creating other knitted items to raffle off as a fundraiser for the museum.

The knitted items are on display as part of the Remembering Them exhibition in Birdwood House, open Mondays and Thursdays from 10am to 2pm, on Friday from 5pm to close, and on Sunday from 11am to 2pm.

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