Navy sailors reveal hidden woollen talents

Navy sailors reveal secret knitting skills

When most people imagine sailors away at sea, few conjure up images of cosy woollen clothing and hours spent comparing knitting patterns.

However, apparently while out on the waves knitting has been a hugely popular pass-time with seafarers for decades, especially during WW1 and two, Portsmouth News reports.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy in the Portsmouth Historic Dockland is now looking to highlight the navy's long-standing association with knitting.

A new community art project has been launched to get locals involved so that they can create some knitted masterpieces for a giant 'yarnscape'.

Working alongside Eastney's Art Stops Café, the museum's Storehouse 10: New Galleries Project will look at the modern history of the Royal Navy from 1900 onwards.

Community engagement officer at the museum, Jo Valentine, told the newspaper: "After having a rummage in the library in our naval home, I came across an old knitting pattern from 1940.

"It was really retro and said things like 'we don't want our chaps to get chilly on the boats!'"

The patterns discovered by staff were all from The Department for Knitted Garments for the Royal Navy, along with a collection of pictures created by sailors showing toys, embroidered slippers and many mascots the seafarers had made for their children back at home.

During times of war in particular, knitting patterns were even issued to the public so that they could create winter items such as balaclavas and gloves for army and navy members.

Ms Valentine explained that the museum was really keen to commemorate the long-standing, and little-known, association between service-people and crafts.

"Knitting and crafts were so important because if you had a hole in your sock when you were away at sea, no one was going to fix it for you, you did it yourself," she said.

Members of the public are encouraged to get involved and donate knitted items to the huge knitted mural planned for the family area of the museum.

The centre is hoping to recreate the Southsea seafront, with a knitted Clarence Pier and Spinnaker Tower, using patterns that have already been knocked up.

You don't need to be amazing at following patterns, as there are some easier items such as small knitted flowers and felted patches, which will help make up the final scene.

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