Knit one, purl one...

Red Cross paper sock measure, 1916
Red Cross paper sock measure from a copyright application by Annie Robina Monie, Sydney, 1916 (NAA: A1336, 5034, p. 3)

The Australian Red Cross was founded in 1914, nine days after the start of World War I. This month's find highlights a domestic side of Red Cross activity.

This Red Cross sock measure from 1916 is symbolic of the compassionate work carried out by the Red Cross during times of conflict. Volunteers were asked to knit socks that contained no knots or lumps, with a top stretch of at least 15 inches so as to be of use to soldiers. The measure ensured a uniform sock was produced and those at home felt they were contributing towards the war effort in a tangible and very practical way.

Contributing to the war effort was out of the price range for many women, and the South Australian Division of the Australian Red Cross Society wanted to address this issue. Kathleen Thomas wrote to the State War Council to see if anything could be done to control the price of wool.

As can be seen from this memorandum, just which department controlled the price of wool in these uncertain times was a matter for some debate.

  • read caption below
    Letter from Kathleen Thomas of the Red Cross Society, 12 September 1917
  • read caption below
    Memorandum from the Department of Defence, 22 October 1917
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017