“Knitting for the Kaiser” by Caroline Tecknor of the Vigilantes, from the Watauga Democrat, November 22, 1917
Now there is a big drive on to secure sweaters for our boys in camp, and for
those going off to France. Our soldiers, who are going to stand between us and
the guns, are cold. The Red Cross is calling for a million helmets and
sweaters, and thousands of devoted women are working overtime to try to fill
this great demand. Wool is expensive, some of our women are going without the
things they want, yes need, in order that they may buy it. Some of our women
would gladly knit if they could buy the necessary wool but they have not the
money. And in the meantime, there are thousands of women able bodied and well
to do, knitting pro-German sweaters for themselves. Knitting for Germany!
A few days since I visited the worsted counters of several of our big
department stores to get some wool to finish up a soldier’s sweater. Before
those counters I found that women were lined up three deep purchasing wool and
needles. I looked at them with satisfaction; our women were certainly awake to
the needs of our “boys.”
And then! I suddenly discovered that they were buying pale greens, and
pinks, and blues; only one woman in a dozen was calling for the gray or khaki.
There were scraps of conversation which greeted my astonished ears: “I am
going to make yellow trimmed in white!” “Nell, you look sweet in green.” “I’ve
got a pattern that fits like a glove.” “I’ve made me a red one, and a blue, and
now I am going to make a black.”
I turned away in wonder. I couldn’t at first understand. They were well
dressed, well fed and seemingly intelligent and well intentioned.
What was the explanation? There must be some sufficient reason.
Suddenly, all in an instant, the answer was flashed upon me. “They are
knitting for Germany! They are making sweaters for the Kaiser! I’m glad none of
my friends are doing it! If you know any one who is, just tell her that Mary
Murphy, Red Cross commissioner in Paris, has cabled: “We need at once 1,500,000
sweaters, 1,500,000 mufflers, 1,500,000 pairs of socks, 1,500,000
wristlets—they must come before cold weather. Every one here looks to America.
We urge you on behalf of our soldiers and those of our allies who suffer in
their frozen trenches, and also on behalf of thousands of French and Belgian
refugees. Begin shipping at once.”