Nostalgic knitting project spawns new quilting project
NEW ORLEANS – In October of 2006, The National World War II Museum in New Orleans introduced Knit Your Bit, a national, grass-roots program to produce hand-knit scarves for World War II veterans in appreciation of their service to our country. Since then, the Museum has received an overwhelming response nearly 5,000 hand-knitted and crocheted scarves from 48 different states and several countries. The scarves have been distributed to V.A. Hospitals and other Veteran’s organizations as far away as Hawaii.
Knit Your Bit was conceived and organized by Lauren Handley, the Museum’s Education Programs Coordinator. When Handley began the project her goal was to receive only 30 scarves. However, the project gathered steam as knitters passed the information along through club meetings, newsletters, blogs, emails and other channels of communication. The program was originally scheduled to end in winter 2007, but when scarves were still coming in at rapid rates, the Museum committed to continuing the distribution.
On the Home Front during World War II, knitting was a national endeavor. Women, men and even school-age children were eager to “knit their bit” to support the war effort and provide needed garments for the troops. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was frequently photographed knitting and, in 1941, she boosted national participation by hosting a “Knit for Defense” tea at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Time magazine wrote, “The men hardly have time to grab their guns before their wives and sweethearts grab their needles and yarn.” Later that same year, the popular weekly magazine Life featured a cover story on knitting along with instructions and a pattern for a knit vest. In 1942, the American Red Cross was designated by the War Production board as the clearing agency for all knitting projects and provided patterns for socks, sweaters, mufflers, fingerless mitts, knit watch caps and helmets. Even cotton stretch bandages were hand-knit in vast quantities.
The new knit and crochet patterns can be downloaded free from the Museum’s website www.nationalww2museum.org. To request a pattern by mail, call Lauren Handley at 504-527-6012 x 229 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t knit? We can still use your help to cover a portion of the costs associated with packaging and mailing these greatly appreciated gifts.
In addition to unveiling the pattern for Knit Your Bit year three, the Museum is also rolling out a new community knitting project. Knit Your “Itty” Bit invites knitters to knit an 8”x 8” square that will be sewn together to other squares to make quilts for VA Centers across the country. This is a great project for young and beginning knitters, busy knitters and groups of knitters who want to finish a project in one sitting. By combining individual and unique squares from across the country, these quilts will truly represent the “We’re all in this together” spirit that the National World War II Museum celebrates. Knitters can even dedicate their squares to honor a particular veteran. The Museum will list knitters and veterans on the Knit Your Bit web site.
Send scarves, quilt squares and donations to:
The National World War II Museum
Attn: Knit Your Bit Campaign
945 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
The National World War II Museum, dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum, has been designated by Congress as the country’s official National World War II Museum. The Museum illuminates the American experience during the war era and celebrates the American spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who won World War II. For more information on The National World War II Museum, visit www.nationalww2museum.org or call 877-813-3329.