WWI knitted sock tradition kept alive in Australia

WWI knitted sock tradition kept alive in Australia

Knitting socks for troops in the First World War was a tradition employed by many Australian women keen to help the boys on the front line.

Seamless socks were knitted using eight-ply grey wool, which have since become synonymous with the Great War.

A rare and annotated knitting pattern for these grey socks has finally been unearthed, along with a second plain copy by Irene Read, who bequeathed them to the State Library of New South Wales, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Mrs Read was a keen knitter for the war effort nearly 100 years ago and accompanied her husband to Egypt in 1915, where he worked as a doctor for the troops.

The library's war specialist, Elise Edmonds, told the newspaper that the grey sock was a symbol of how women contributed to the war effort.

She said: "The First World War activated knitting needles across the country as women and girls mobilised their skills to support soldiers overseas."

Ms Edmonds explained that troops never had enough socks, as they often rotted in the wet, muddy trenches, which also caused trench foot.

This meant that it was imperative that soldiers had dry feet to be able to carry out their duties, without suffering from health problems.

The tradition has been continued by volunteers such as Janet Burningham, who has been reproducing the seamless socks using the tiny pattern, which is less than half the size of a traditional A4 pattern.

Ms Burningham, a member of knitting group Wrap with Love, said that each sock would take a day to make as the instructions were meant to be followed exactly.

Following on from her mother's sock knitting efforts in WW2, she now works to craft blankets to send to troops with the help of other volunteers.

Knitters keen to see the original grey sock pattern and other war memorabilia can head to the State Library of New South Wales from November 9th, to mark Remembrance Day.

Those interested in learning how to knit socks could also attend the Rowan Sock Knitting Workshop on November 15th.

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