Friday, 29 August 2014

Appeal for Socks

From The Times, 29th August 1914.


Lady French writes from The Manor House, Waltham Cross, Herts:—There is a great need for knitted socks, &c., for our troops. It is, indeed, a crying need, as the War Office allowance is only three pairs for each man, and a long day's march will wear socks into holes. I would ask those who have leisure to knit, or are willing to employ others to do so, to send parcels as soon as possible ... to Miss Douglas and Miss N. Selby Lowndes, at the Ceylon Tea Depot, ... These ladies have kindly consented to receive and acknowledge all contributions, whether in knitting, wool, or money, and to forward them in my name to the different regiments. Wool is very welcome, as there are many willing workers who are glad to give their time but cannot afford to buy materials; and gifts of money will also be laid out to provide these and to pay for the work being done when it cannot be given voluntarily, thus doing a double kindness.  Socks are needed more than anything, but comforters (not less than 2½ yards long and 12in. wide) are much appreciated.

[Lady French was the wife of Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in France.   This appeal is I think the first indication that there was a legitimate, official, need for volunteers to provide extra socks for soldiers on active service. ]

Miss Susan Ballard, 17, Waldegrave-park, Twickenham, writes:—Socks without a shaped heel have three advantages—first, the pressure, not coming to the same place, they last much longer; secondly, they fit any foot; and thirdly, they are so quickly knitted. Cast on as for any ordinary ribbed sock.  Knit till you come to where you begin the shaping for heel, then knit plain, all round the three needles, till you decrease for toe.  Do the decrease for toe on each of the three needles.  You then have a long sock the same all round in every part.  Knitters must not on any account let a knot come in the foot.  

"T. A. C." would like to draw attention to the supreme necessity of washing socks before handing them over, as if this is not done it may cause blistered feet.

Mrs. Campbell Turner, Inveraray, N.B., suggests that every maker of socks and stockings shake a teaspoonful of boracic acid powder into the foot of each sock; this is a great comfort, prevents sores from dyed wool, and a pennyworth of powder will go a long way.

[Like the suggestion to provide a darning needle with every pair of socks, the hints from private individuals may or may not be sensible.   The idea that heelless socks were better than the traditional kind cropped up several times.  I doubt if such socks were ever officially acceptable in Britain.   

The last two hints suggest that the dyes then used must have left some residue in the yarn which was irritating to the skin.]  

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