Sunday, 17 August 2014

Socks for Soldiers

(The following 3 pieces appeared in the Glasgow Herald, 17th August 1914)

The following are directions for closing a stocking or sock toe so as to avoid the hard ridge which is often so pain-giving: -- Take in the toe in the usual way until you have about nine stitches on each of two wires, back and front.  Break the wool, leaving about half a yard, and thread this through a darning needle.  Insert needle in first loop of front wire as if for plain knitting.  Take off loop on to needle and insert needle again as if for purling, draw wool through, but leave the second stitch on wire.  Now go to back wire and take off first loop on to needle as if for purling, put needle in again as if for plain knitting, and draw wool through, but leave this second stitch on wire.  Put needle on to front wire again as if for plain knitting, and so on until all the stitches are gone over, and draw an inch or two of what remains of the wool along the side of the toe.

[I think it is almost impossible to give adequate instructions for grafting without diagrams (or preferably YouTube), but this is a brave attempt.  Sock patterns before 1914 sometimes gave similar instructions for grafting the toes, so the technique was known.  It was not, of course, called Kitchener stitch.] 

Paisley holiday-makers are reminded that knitting and sewing form a delightful occupation at the seaside or on the hills in the open air.  Our soldiers and sailors require our sympathy and help.  The articles of greatest value in this campaign are (1) shirts, (2) socks, (3) sleeping helmets. Shirts should be made of khaki Army flannel, the neck sizes in common use being 14½, 15, and 15½.  Socks should be made of strong, hard knitting wool, the sizes in common use ranging from 9½ to 11.  Sleeping helmets should be made of cotton or wool.  They are intended to cover the head, the neck, and part of the shoulders, with an opening for the eyes, nose and part of the face.  These helmets are used by the soldiers for sleeping on the ground in the open air.  Mr John Bardie, MA., mathematical master, Paisley Grammar School, receives consignments of goods for distribution among our soldiers and sailors … After being assorted these goods will be periodically despatched to the War Office. To facilitate the assorting of the consignment the sizes of articles should be clearly marked.

[Attempting to make flannel shirts in the open air seems an ideal way of ruining a holiday and probably ruining the shirt too.  This seems likely to be a bit of private enterprise on Mr Bardie's part, although the specification of sizes suggests that he might have consulted someone at the War Office.  It's odd that he felt it necessary to describe a sleeping helmet as though readers might not know about them - other appeals (e.g. in yesterdays's post) refer to Balaclava helmets, or just helmets, and assume that everyone knows what they are.] 


The Executive Committee of the Scottish Branch of the British Red Cross Society … issued the following statement on Saturday:--
The suddenness of the war having not unnaturally led some branches to take action without waiting to consult headquarters, it is necessary to remind members of the Red Cross Society that the organisation was started with the express purpose of preventing overlapping and waste of energy which result from unco-ordinated individual effort.  The Executive Committee, while fully appreciating the zeal of those branches, is bound to see that the society adheres to its primary duty of supplying to the Navy and Army the assistance which they call on it to provide.  For this reason the Executive Committee must remind local branches that it cannot be answerable for any expenditure incurred without its sanction.  It has no wish to interfere with any arrangements made by branches at their own expense, but it ventures to point out that it would be a great misfortune if their resources or trained members were wasted on enterprises of doubtful value.  The Government is naturally reluctant to decline any offer of help.  The fact that an offer is not declined must not be taken as a proof that it is useful.

[This strikes me as a wonderful piece of writing - a severe reprimand to the local branches for behaving in an over-enthusiastic and undisciplined manner, including a threat to withhold payment, all in the politest language.  Although Mr. Bardie in Paisley appears to have no connection with the Red Cross, I can't help feeling that his efforts are the kind of "unco-ordinated individual effort" that they were objecting to.]

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