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Knitting in times of crisis


Hello! I am Megan from the library and I am a yarnworker. Well, I also love working with cord (macramé) and thread (embroidery) but sewing has never really been my thing. That being said, I am not a mask maker because making them out of yarn seems beyond the point as that would be quite hot. The making of masks during this current time of crisis in our country brought to mind the other ways that crafters have helped a cause.

During World War II there were women all over Europe performing espionage via knitting. There is a tale of one woman who sat in her window and knitted patterns to mimic the enemy’s train schedule. There is another tale of a woman who sat in an upstairs room knitting eavesdropping on soldiers’ conversations and tapped Morse code with her foot while her children wrote out the message on the floor below. Other women traveled across enemy lines with baskets full of knitting hiding other pieces of espionage and traveling under the guise of doing “woman’s work.” 

However, yarn work was not always “woman’s work.” In the United States during World War I, men, women, boys and girls alike were encouraged to knit socks, sweaters and scarves to support the troops. There was a national program called “Knit a Bit” which encouraged every person to pick up a pair of needles and knit their part. There were “knitting bee’s” where men and women of every age could compete at how quickly they could knit a sock.

Nowadays, we do not ban together in this way often but the current crisis has certainly brought out the best in helpers allover our great nation. If you would like to read more about these efforts you may check out “Knit Your Bit” (j E Hop) and “Atlas Obscura” (910.41 Foe) for references to these stories. Also, if you are thinking about taking up a hobby such as knitting and crocheting to fill some newly made free time, check out “How to Crochet” (746.434 Tur) and “Teach Yourself Visually: Knitting” (746.432 Tur). Also, look us up on Facebook at Crawfordsville District Public Library “Yarnworks” Group for programs and tutorials to get started on easy yarn working projects.


Megan Nogle is a library assistant in Reference and Local History at the Crawfordsville District Public Library.


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