Book review: 'Knitskrieg: A Call to Yarns!'

Post date: May 15, 2016 5:40:24 PM

HMS' very own Jen Kaines reviews Joyce Meader's new book on 'military knitting'...

Joyce Meader ‘Knitskrieg: A Call to Yarns!’ 2016 Unicorn Publishing Group 144pp £18.99 ISBN 978-1-910500-33-0

This hardback book of nearly 150 pages is divided into five sections: 19th century wars, 20th century wars, 21st century warfare, anti-war and peace movement in knitting and knitting patterns. Each section is a good mixture of text, illustrations in full colour, original adverts, patterns, knitwear made by the author from original patterns and knitting songs! There is a real sense of the author, her personality and passion.

The role of women often left at home ‘doing their bit’ while men go off to war and the importance of knitting throughout military history is very much highlighted through the book. Knitting items for the troops was not only seen as a woman’s patriotic duty, but had a practical application in delivering multiple pairs of socks for example in WWI, but also very much a moral boosting role for both the knitter and the recipients. Even in the latest conflicts where there is no real material need for knitted items the role of the sentiment behind a hat or scarf can not be underestimated, neither can the act of knitting itself which is discussed in the Iraq and Afghanistan section and shows knitting is not just for women. The section on anti-war and peace movement brings the book right up to date and shows the campaigning and subversive nature of knitting.

The knitting patterns included in the last section have a good spread from the periods covered and adapted for modern needles, yarns and modern body sizes, all quite simple and would be manageable by most levels of knitters.

Joyce obviously has an extensive collection of patterns which she has drawn on for this book. She has provided both advice and garments to museums, TV and film productions, has an interesting website at and delivers talks and presentations to various groups across the country. She must also be a very accomplished knitter as the adaptations of the patterns and the reproductions in the book are all hers.

With my interests and research I did know much of the contents of this book, but there are many nuggets of information that are new to me and there is plenty of interest for anyone who likes knitting, its significance in the social and military history of past centuries."

Jen Kaines


"I was lucky enough to be sent a review copy of this new book. As a reenactor of Royal Navy though the ages as a member of the Historical Maritime Society, a knitter, crotcheter and lover of all things historic I was really looking forward to this volume. Billed as ‘a history of military knitting from the 1800s to the present day’ this covers the period I am most interested and knowledgeable on.