American women knit for soldiers well into the twentieth century. During the Civil War, hand-knit socks were especially prized: marching soon wore them out, and good socks could compensate for ill-fitting boots. And, as “The Knitters” reminded readers of The Youth’s Companion, it provided a means by which women could contribute to the comfort of those they loved.
[The Family] “The Knitters,” by “One of the Knitters” (reprinted from the Springfield Republican ; from The Youth’s Companion, December 26, 1861; p. 204)

Forgetting her work and neglecting her plays,

The little girl’s knitting these December days;

And every time round, her work measures to see,

If the stocking’s as long as a stocking should be.

To knit for the soldiers our maidens remember,

Lay aside all their worsted’s this month of December;

And every time round, each one speaks to the other,

Of goodness and courage, of lover or brother.

The young wife is knitting, this December chill,

With a brave cheerful heart, she feareth no ill,

For every time round she can hear her boy say,

“Father fights for the right, as I shall some day.”

With her easy arm-chair drawn up to the light,

Grandmother is knitting this December night,

And every time round she sends up a short prayer,

For her own brave boy, who those stockings will wear.

While the December winds are blowing so madly,

By her desolate hearth a woman sits sadly;

Yet every time round it still cheers her poor heart,

That she for the soldiers can do her small part.

While so loudly down patters this December rain,

The mother sits knitting, but does not complain.

Though every time round the sad, fast falling tears,

Show how heavy her heart, how many her fears.

And some knitters there are in this December drear,

Who’ve nothing to hope for, and nothing to fear

For every time round there comes up to their sight

A poor bleeding form, stricken down in the fight.

And so all are knitting,—the grandmother mild,

The wife and the mother, the maiden and child,

And every time round each is glad to remember,

She has warmed some cold feet in this month of December.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
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