Knitting garments for men at war

Name: Women of Australia
Date: 1939-1945
Location: Australia

Many a mother, sister, aunt or girl friend spent hours during World War II knitting woollen clothes for their menfolk who were away at war.

Some groups were formed to knit the garments which were added to comfort parcels mostly sent anonymously to servicemen at the front or those who had been taken prisoner of war. Sometimes the knitter or parcel packer would slip in a note with good wishes and her address in the hope of receiving a reply - and many did.

Whilst some women were accomplished knitters, others were new to the game and found great help from publications put out by companies specialising in patterns for woollen garments.

One such booklet was Patons Service Woollies, Specialty Knitting Book No 153, produced by Patons and Baldwins of Melbourne and Sydney, and costing 7d.

Inside was advice on knitting for those with less experience and with detailed instructions for some of the more unusual garments.

Knitters! Please Take Notice

Avoid disappointment - buy the wool recommended. Buy wisely - buy enough- the same blend cannot be repeated. Tension is the number of stitches in width to measure one inch. On this depends the success of the finished article. If the tension is not obtainable on the needles recommended, use a size finer or coarser, as required.

Section 1 was devoted to Service Comforts such as pullovers. A variety of styles was included, such as Bruce - a V-neck with sleeves for army personnel, Franklin, another V-neck for air force personnel and Keith - a crew neck for naval personnel.

There were also sleeveless pullovers, a waistcoat with buttons and a cardigan with sleeves.

Next came the neck comforts, scarves and neck muffs, balaclava helmets both with and without scarves, sleeping caps and socks of all shapes and sizes, including socks without toes and heels.

Glove patterns came with individual fingers while steering gloves were without fingers, mittens and wristlets were also popular while socks also came in a variety of styles, some with Dutch heels, others with French heels and some with a flat toe.

Then there were specialised items in hospital comforts, many with the wounded in mind. A convalescent jacket had only half the back, hospital stockings came with and without feet, hospital sleeves, knee caps, heelless bed socks and a hot water bag cover all had special patterns.

All came with detailed instructions on wool and needle sizes and advice on casting off to ensure the garments were as well made as possible.

When parcels arrived at the front or in POW camps, many a recipient was grateful for the warmth and comfort provided by these garments which had been lovingly made by the womenfolk back home.

The material for this article by Tony Miller was based on the Pattons booklet mentioned in the article
8/01/2002 10:35:57 AM

Last updated: 4 June 2019

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2019), Knitting garments for men at war, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 14 August 2020,
Was this page helpful?