More wartime knitting. And it’s been a productive week.
Here’s dad in Palestine in 1947. Not entirely the sort of place you’d need fingerless gloves, or balaclavas. Although I’m sure he was very glad of them when he got back to rainy old Leeds, later this same year.
He does remind me of the men in 1940s/50s knitting patterns though – endlessly smoking and making it look cool, somehow.
He was always a pipe man, never saw him with a cigarette. He’d buy tins of tobacco in a tobacconist (still, incredibly there!) on the Market Place in Selby. It’s where I got my obsession with tins, I think – those tobacco tins with pretty pictures on. He stopped smoking when I was a teenager in the 1970s, but he’d still always smoke just one cigar – when he put me back on the train or the National Express coach to university. He smoked to show how proud he was of me!
Here’s the balaclava from ‘Knitted Comforts For Servicemen’, Leech-Way Wools. I knitted this precisely as per pattern, using British Breeds guernsey 5 ply wool. That little widow’s peak at the top is down to bad photostyling – he’s since squidged it down. It was the total opposite of the Edwardian balaclava with a bottom up construction. The rapid decreases at the top (actually at the sides once you got halfway up the face) are what give it that shape. It’s much more snug round the face – draught-proof. It’s fine in wear, but we took this hastily before he jumped in the car for work.
I adapted the gloves heavily as the pattern was written for a finer grist yarn, and also I wanted to do the thumbs and fingers in the way I’m used to. I also closed the thumb with ribbing to prevent it being gappy. You may notice the fingers are knitted a bit shorter than the originals, too. You can play about with that acc. to personal preference, if you want to try knitting these!
So, this pattern belongs to an anonymous pattern writer from a WW2 woollen mill, not me. But, I will give you my heavily adapted version which looks identical to the photo in Knitted Comforts, andwas probably much faster to knit! Vintage patterns are great to simply use or adapt – but I never forget the often anonymous original designers!
These are going to be invaluable in the current weather as poor Worser Half is outside all day. The 5″ long cuffs alone make them worth the effort – and they’re the work of just 2 evenings at my fairly snaily pace.
I’d imagine with a bit of fiddling, these might work with DK but I used guernsey wool as it’s what I had to hand (geddit?) – plus, it is worsted not woollen spun, so makes the pattern ‘pop’.
This 70 year old pattern deserves to be used and out there.
Knitted Comforts For Servicemen
Pattern adapted heavily.
2 balls British Breeds 5 ply Guernsey yarn
1 set 2.5mm DPNs, or circ for magic loop.
Cast on 45 sts (15 per needle on 3 needles, if using DPNs).
Work in K1, P1 rib for 5”.
Round 1: Knit
Round 2: * K1, P1, Rep from * to end
Round 3: Knit
Round 4: *P1, K1,, Rep from * to end
Knit 4 complete rounds, then
At end of needle one (or, 15 sts in if doing magic loop), Make 1 st purlwise.
K 1 round, staying in pattern, purling the new stitch. This is going to be the base of your thumb gusset.
On 3rd round after making st, M1 st purlwise in the space before the new st; K the purled st, M 1 st purlwise after it. (You now have 3 sts, at base of thumb)
Continue to Purl the 2 P sts, and inc 1 st after the first P and before the final P, every 3rd round. K thumb in stocking stitch, but as you knit it, cont rest of glove in patt.
When you have made 11 plain sts (13 sts inc the 2 Ps), place these 13 sts on waste yarn and continue to knit up glove in patt, for 1 and a quarter inches. This completes the patterned part of glove.
Do fingers in stocking stitch.
Centre Finger 1, over thumb, by using 6 sts from end of needle 1, and 6 sts from start of needle 2. Put rest of sts on waste yarn.
K round these 12 sts, M 2 stitches [14 sts], between fingers 1 & 2. K 4 rounds, cast off loosely.
Pick up 6 sts from palm side. Pick up 4 sts between Fingers 1 & 2, but immediately (K 2 tog) twice, so you have 2 new sts, not 4 (this eliminates holes). Then, pick up 6 sts from back of hand side and M 2 sts between Fingers 2 & 3. [16 sts]. K 4 rounds, cast off loosely.
Pick up 5 sts from palm side, M2 sts , pick up 6 sts from back of hand side, Pick up 4 sts from between fingers 2 & 3 – again, reduce immediately down to 2 by (K 2 tog) twice; [[15 sts], K 4 rounds, cast off loosely.
Pick up remaining 10 sts, pick up 5 sts between fingers 3 and 4, K 4 rounds, cast off loosely.
Pick up the 13 sts waiting for you. Pick up 3 stitches from side of hand. [16 sts].
Knit 4 rounds in K2, P2 rib. Cast off loosely.
Knit Glove 2.
For Thumb On Glove 2
Start thumb gusset at end second needle. Knit as per first.
Picture Credits: 21stC photos: Alexander Hunt.