Today, I’ve already been knee deep in WWII research on uniforms. You see, I wanted to design a service sweater (a sweater worn by each arm of the military) that was pretty accurate to the time period. One such sweater was for women serving. The truth is…I couldn’t find anything on why there don’t seem to be many knitting patterns for women in service except for one, which was published by The American Red Cross.
So…I did some digging.
A lot of digging.
It’s one of my favorite parts of my job. I feel like Miss Marple looking for clues in old bookshelves and manuscripts when, in reality, I’m here in my air conditioned apartment.
Nevertheless, would you like to know my findings?
To be blunt, there are no patterns. None. Why? There were a lack of proper uniforms for women at the time. No matter the arm of the military women were serving, American military services were unprepared to design women’s uniform garments when the WAAC was formed during WWII in 1942. Several revisions were made but women were told to wear out the bad fitting items before they would be issued new uniforms.
Women were given the shortest end of the stick when it came to our country at the time (and still are – let’s face it) but it was more evident in service. They were given the leftovers and told to make do. Which they did. It was a duty and an honor for them to serve, some right near the front lines.
Some historians agree that the ill fitting (and lack of) clothing was one of the reasons enlistment in such branches as the WAAC diminished.
So…what does this have to do with knitting? Well, while we have a slew of men’s service patterns for WWII it seems that, save for a few hidden from the internet, these patterns just weren’t produced. If I put on my knitstorian hat I’d confidently say that women of the time knitted their own sweaters using the men’s patterns as a guide and altered them to fit their personal size and shape. I could be wrong, but it does seem to be the most logical conclusion.