Free Pattern Saturday: Now Here’s The Bad News…

The New York Times was rife with dire headlines this week, from unemployment reaching 9.8% , unemployment aid coming to a permanent end for so many and a look back on the ongoing Iraq war, now entering its 7th year. A strong believer in misery loving company, I scoured the archives for ‘knit your bit’ patterns from the WWII era of strict rationing, when patterns were stamped with warnings materials weren’t guaranteed available and all aspects of life were curtailed. Plus economy in design then means less pennies spent today!

3 increasingly frustrated hours later I hadn’t found a single pattern fitting the bill. HUNDREDS of patterns from the era and NOTHING with a hint of sacrifice or supply limitations. What was going on? Staring at a page of 4 full hockey get-ups for boys and several hats for curling, the answer hit me- MOST OF MY PATTERNS ARE CANADIAN. I purchased an enormous lot from an Alberta woman who’d amassed a library of knitting books over her lifetime and no joke, every winter book has at least one curling/hockey pattern in it and several of the summer issues feature blouses named after provinces.

What makes this stranger is that Canada entered the war before the U.S. and certainly had its share of tribulations. A slight aside, they also hosted the Dutch Royal Family whose lands were Nazi-occupied and to this day as thanks, Ottawa receives tribute in the form of 10,000 tulip bulbs from the Netherlands. Still, if Canada had yarn rationing it doesn’t show up in knitting books from the era, or at least none of the ones I have.

So, in summation: lots of research, several tangents going nowhere, some historical fun facts, so nuts to it here’s some penguin socks.

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  1. I have a few patterns books that were printed during the war. I love the adds for War Bonds and the occasional “If you ride alone, you ride with Hitler” cartoon.

    I can’t remember hearing about a rationing of yarn. (I do remember coming across a web page where they showed the 40s magazine article on how to cut up a man’s suit to make one for a lady.) I’ll have to ask my Grandpa. He should remember.


  2. hey there,
    I have a stack of old Monarch yarn patterns. My question for you is this….have you been using Monarch brand yarns or a modern substitute? And if using monarch, where are you sourcing it from?


    1. I am definitely using modern yarns, mostly three-ply wool or wool blends, and in some cases, lace weight Colourmart UK mill ends held together to get gauge. For most patterns you can look online or on Ravelry and folks have their favorite vintage ‘replacement’ yarns.