Kit Brings History to Life for New Knitters, Pays Homage to Red Cross World War II Knitting Volunteers and Raises Funds to Support American Red Cross Services
WASHINGTON — As the United States prepares to honor and memorialize the more than 16-million men and women who serviced during the second World War, the American Red Cross through its website — www.redcross.org — is offering a commemorative knitting kit based on their “Knit Your Bit” campaign from the early part of the last century. The product was launched to coincide with the dedication of the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.
“With the growing popularity in knitting, especially among young adults, we saw this as an opportunity to share an interesting bit of Red Cross history with a younger generation,” says Darren Irby, Vice President of Public Relations for the American Red Cross. “It’s also a way to honor the more than 7.5-million Red Cross volunteers–many of them knitters–who served our country during World War II by providing aid, relief and comfort both on the war and home fronts.”
According to Irby, the knitting section of the Red Cross Web site has seen a boom in traffic over the last couple year as knitting continues to grow in popularity and knitters seek out historic Red Cross patterns. This interest fueled the creation of the kit, which seems to be a hit with the new generation of knitters.
Marsha J. Evans, President and CEO of the American Red Cross and an avid knitter, recently presented actress Dakota Fanning with a “Knit Your Bit” kit. Fanning, a member of the Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet, was thrilled with the gift.
“I think it’s great–I love starting new projects and this is like getting to knit a piece of history,” said Fanning, who splits her free time between knitting and reading. “I like to knit in the car and this kit has everything together in a neat little tin I can carry with me.”
The collectible, reusable tin features an insert with original era poster artwork and the Red Cross knitting story. The organization’s “Knit Your Bit” campaign began in World War I, but became a critical part of providing aid and comfort to American troops during the Second World War.
As textile producers and factories were converted to support strategic military needs, volunteer knitters were called upon to help supply soldiers with warm clothing for harsh climates. Red Cross patterns were designed to be compatible with their uniforms and equipment. Wool yarn was provided by the Red Cross and the design specifications were to be met.
“If the garments did not pass inspection, they were ripped out and redone,” says Steve Shulman, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Museum in Washington D.C. He explains that with rationing such a concern, conservation of resources was a priority as well.
“Any leftover yarn or rejected pieces were returned to the Red Cross and recycled for use by another knitter,” says Shulman. “Not a bit of it went to waste.”
The commemorative knitting kits retail for $25.00 on Redcross.org with a portion of the proceeds from every kit sold going back to help support the work of the American Red Cross.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. Governed by volunteers and supported by community donations, the American Red Cross is a nationwide network of more than 900 chapters and Blood Services regions dedicated to saving lives and helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Led by 1.2 million volunteers and 32,000 employees, the Red Cross annually mobilizes relief to families affected by more than 67,000 disasters, trains almost 12 million people in lifesaving skills and exchanges more than a million emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their families. The Red Cross is the largest supplier of blood and blood products to more than 3,000 hospitals across the nation and also assists victims of international disasters and conflicts at locations worldwide.