Knitting to commemorate the First World War

Archive for November, 2013

Progress on the Vest Scarf

8177 Progress
I’ve been battling some kind of upper respiratory nonsense so I’ve not made as much progress as I had hoped on this pattern. Still, I am working on the right shoulder shaping and will soon work the right armhole. This Rowan yarn (Rowan PureLife in black tea colorway) is absolutely heavenly to work with. I love how soft it feels in my hands — such a comfort when the rest of me isn’t feeling well.

Hmmmm. . . I wonder whether knitters of the past found as much comfort in working the wool?  I am reminded that there was a nasty epidemic of influenza during WWI.  Would those who worried about loved ones have taken comfort in the meditative process of knitting or other needlework?  Was knitting a comfort to them as it is to many of us now?  I wonder.  I with I could speak with some of those knitters of the past.  I’m sure they would have a laugh at our need for this kind of leisure.  What was for them a necessity is for us a hobby.  Our lives have changed so much in 100 years.

My row gauge (supposed to be 6 garter ridges, or 12 rows to the inch) hasn’t held as well, but I think that’s because the stripe pattern isn’t completely in garter stitch. It causes me to wonder whether the numbers in the schematic were accurate. Still, I worked to the center back as directed (8 stripes from the armhole, then then next purl row was the center back) even though it measures about 2 inches longer than specified. I was afraid that if I cut it short the fronts would be out of proportion since they are worked in the same stitch pattern. Stitch gauge is holding well, I’m happy to say. Well, garter stitch was going to stretch out at any rate.


Remembrance day is about war!?

I have heard people say remembrance day is about war, is it really?

Whatever I feel about war itself, I do believe that people do their best to protect us and without troops fighting for us in WW1 and WW2 I hate to think where we would be now!

My grandma grew up in Singapore in world war two and she often talks about being occupied by the Japanese, it does not sound nice at all and I now feel lucky that we did not have that in the uk, that is mostly thanks to the men who fought for our right to freedom!

I often question weather we need war these days, no one really wants a war at all but again we are trying to protect those who need it and that is something that takes great courage.

In all wars people are just doing what they feel is right at the time often protecting their own family’s and children, in WW1 and WW2 I am sure that everyone did their best to keep the fight as far away from their own family’s as possible, but as soon as those men left their home, and in the run up, the war was felt in every home, watching loved ones leave and not know if they would return must have been hard! in ww1 few returned home and in ww2 it hadn’t been that long since a lot of people had seen boys leave and not return from the war, they must have felt that history was repeating!

But they swallowed the pain and put their energy into doing all they could, taking the jobs and making clothes, keeping the land and the country running.

I do respect all the troops that fight for us, I may not agree with war but I respect all who fight for us they deserve our respect and not our judgement! and all the mothers wives and children left behind also deserve our thoughts, life cannot be easy for them!

I have learnt a lot in the past few weeks about WW1 the amount of knitting that was done to provide for the soldiers from the tiniest of children sending out socks to the grandmother knitting jumpers and the wives knitting for their husbands that may not come home…this really pulls at my heart strings!

So is remembrance day about war!? NO it is about people! at home and at war!

I will share this again, my thoughts after joining “Orkney to Omaha!” knitters, part of a post on facebook

“…i will not only be remembering the men who gave there lives to make a better world for us to live in but the people at home keeping them all supplied even though for some their hearts were breaking as they worried about their close ones!”

keep them in your thoughts

The Bendy Knitter x


The Colleypriests and Lysaghts Iron Works ~ in times of War and Peace

The Colleypriests and Lysaghts Iron Works ~ in times of War and Peace

This photo is of my Dad Percy Colleypriest and his Campaign Medals from World War Two. The photos depict him in his battledress on home soil, in Egypt and in Belgium during various stages of his war 1939-1945/46

My Grandfather Frederick John Colleypriest, was born in Beer Regis, Dorset, England in 1888. At the outbreak of World War One ~ he was working for John Lysaght Iron & Steel Manufacturer, Orb Works, Lliswerry, Newport, Monmouthshire. (Monmouthshire was always on the old maps as Monmouthshire. It was neither England or Wales) ‘Lysaghts’ opened their works in Newport in 1898.
My Grandfather was not in World War One because what he did in the manufacture of Iron and Steel was classed as a Reserved Occupation for the war effort.
But my Gramp was the foundation chain in a of a long line of Colleypriest’s working for ‘’Mr Lysaght’ (always address my their Christian names. i.e. Mr Christopher, or Mr Nicholas. Perhaps the best known was Mr William ~ W.R. Lysaght. W.R. as he was universally known.
Working for Lysaghts was very much a family tradition. My Gramp, (a heaver-over ~ catching the rolling steel hot on the mill rollers, with long handled pliers, and then heaving it over onto the other side for it to go back through the rolling mill ~ like an old fashioned mangle. Very hot and tiring work. His sons, Fred (a crane driver), Sid (crane driver), Jack (head of garage) , Percy (my Dad, Crane Driver) and Ernie (an apprentice electrician).
Uncle Jack was invalided of the Dunkirk Beach head in World War Two. He was alive but lost a lung and suffered ill health for the rest of his life.
My Dad Percy Albert Colleypriest enlisted prior to the outbreak of war early in 1939 ~ and served with the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers all over Europe, Middle East and South Africa, until his demob in 1946. Uncle’s Sid and Ernie was also in the Army.
After the war things tried to get back to normal as soon as they could. My Dad and his brothers all returned to their jobs at Lysaghts in the manufacture of steel to help get Britain and the rest of the world back on its feet. Lysaghts held a special Welcome Home Banquet for their employees who had returned home from the war. At the W.R. Lysaght Institute, Newport. I have my dad’s autographed copy of the commemoration menu from that night
Soon there was a patter of baby feet and later on in life all of my male cousins were also employed in the ‘works’ Only this time my cousins had ‘trades’ and ‘staff jobs’ as opposed to labouring in the works. I was the only girl in the Colleypriest family to work for Lysaghts, and I started there straight from school in 1967. I had a staff job, too, on computers and left in 1972 when I got married.
I can remember going, with my Dad, over to the works gates with sandwiches to give my Gramp for his lunch when I was little. Fred Colleypriest retired from Lysaghts aged 71. He was an extremely fit Grampy – I loved playing with him. My Dad took voluntary redundancy when British Steel started its slim down process here in South Wales. He was 61 when he walked out from the gates for the last time.
Lysaghts is no more. Orb Farm which housed the general offices where I worked has been flattened and is now a new housing estate. The ‘works’ is much smaller not and it now a specialisted Electrical Steels Manufacturer.

But John Lysaghts massive fancy wrought ironwork gates, which depicts an Orb in the centre of both of them still stand along with the two police gates. Its now a listed building. ~~ A lasting memorial to Lysaghts and the people who worked there for the duration of World War One and World War Two.
Lysaghts is not dead and forgotten. It lives on within people’s hearts So on this Remembrance Sunday, it is fitting to bow our heads and remember those who have gone before.
I usually wear my Dad’s medals on Remembrance Tide both the Church and to the local War Memorial.

Royal British Legion Poppy


Veteran’s Day Brings Odd Memories

Grandpa and Dad

November 11 in the USA is celebrated at Veteran’s Day.  It was originally proclaimed Armistice Day in 1919, but in 1954 was changed to the current title in order to honor all those who died while serving in the US military.  While working on my knitting project for this film, it occurred to me that we’ve had a huge effort in the last few decades to remember and celebrate the veterans of WW II.  Perhaps it was because comparatively few people remain who remember that war and that time, and we have had at our disposal a great many options for recording their images and their history.  It spurred me to look a bit into my own family history.

Alas, I found very little.  My paternal grandfather, Otto, has a draft card on file for WWI, but I could find no record of his service. It’s possible that, being in his 20s, he was considered too old at the time, or else he was rejected for a health reason.  Grandpa Otto died in August 1959, just 2 months after I was born.  I never knew him.  In fact, about all I ever knew of him was that he died of a massive stroke.

My dad was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes at an early age; thus, he was never eligible to serve in WW II as his brothers did.  He did his part, however, as a mechanic of some kind working at a local Air Force base (well, it was the Army Air Corps then).  In fact, I have a job now in which I work for a defense contractor on that base.  I joke with my workmates, many of whom are retired military, that I am a congenital civilian.

My dad died on Veteran’s Day in 1979.  It seems a tenuous connection, I’m sure, but every year when this date rolls around I am reminded of him, of how he played “Taps” at the various memorial services our little town held to commemorate those who served and those whose lives were lost.  For a man who was never served a day in uniform, he did everything he could from the sidelines during the war and after it.  I expect that was something he learned from his father.

I was just 20 years old when my dad died.  I barely knew him, really.  He was so ill in those last years of his life, in pain from various surgeries to try to correct all of the genetic problems he was born with.  I like to think that he sees me now, along with all of the grandmothers and grandfathers who did their part at home or on a battle field, knowing that I am doing what I can to knit their love and memories into a film project that will bring to life a few people from that era.  They worked hard; they sacrificed much; they left behind so many little lessons for us, among them how to make do when a bit of yarn and a basic pattern.  We will remember them by the work of our hands.

Not too long now

Have just heard that the yarn for my part in this project has been left by Pauline at Julie’s house.Its going to be sent to me on Monday.  Oooh. 


Wearing the Poppy

AW Callander

Arthur William Callander  Killed in action 9th May 1915

The Orkney to Omaha knitting project for the WW1 film has touched a chord with so many in our newly assembled army of knitters.  My grandfather Harry Callander (1876-1941) was a costumier who would be greatly interested this project if he were alive today.  He was too old to fight in WW1 but his tailoring firm Callander, Davies and Ricks probably made greatcoats for the soldiers.  When researching our family history, I discovered that the Callanders lived in Richmond on Thames from the 1890s, less than a mile from where I now live.  As children in the 1950s we had no idea that we had seven great aunts/uncles let alone one called Arthur Callander.  The Great War was never spoken about in our childhood, it was as if the collective shock to the nation was too great and the memories were too harrowing to raise with young children especially as our parents had recently emerged battered from another world war.


This newly discovered great uncle Private Arthur Callander: London Regiment (London Scottish), b 1887, orphaned at 7, a south London tailor with no experience of the military, was killed at the Battle of Aubers on 9th May 1915 aged 28 after barely two months of service.   He was buried at Cabaret-Rouge, Souchez Cemetery in northern France.  The inscription on his grave was organised by our grandfather Harry Callander, his elder brother who loved the theatre.  He had chosen a quote from Julius Caesar where Mark Antony praises the murdered Caesar; the noblest Roman of them all:.. Nature might stand up/And say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’


Whilst knitting for the project I’ll think of him and of those Lincolnshire men.  My own father (1892-1988) was invalided out of the Great War but he’ll raise a smile in my memory as he was never fond of knitting.  Whenever mum and I picked up our needles he would sigh wearily and say, “Why is it that whenever anyone knits, they always start talking about armpits?”  It’s so true, we were always asking the other about how far to knit to the armpits, are you decreasing at the armpits, and so on….


Not a syllable will be spoken on that topic while I’m knitting puttees…



Callander, Davies and Ricks – photo taken just after WW1. My grandma Callander (back left) was an early pioneer of layered grunge it seems.  Mrs. Davies (front row left) is wearing rather a sporty jumper.  Grandpa Callander (front end right) is guardian of the champagne and keeper of the croquet mallets.  I don’t know what they were celebrating.


Work in Progress ~ Man’s Trench Cap ~ on 4 x DPN’s (double pointed needle’s)

Hum.……why is it that when I pick up dropped stitches (off the open ended double pointed needles). I poke my tongue out of the corner of my mouth.  I do the same when I use a scissors ✂