Downton Abbey. Oh dear! There always was some sensationalism in the dramatic mix, but now it's getting silly*. And increasingly historically inaccurate. What of the war to end wars? The house may be as full of convalescent army officers as the plot is of clichés but Downton's habitués remain remarkably unscathed. One dead, one injured, the scandal of Mrs Patmore's nephew, the shell shocked Mr Lang, and Ethel's ruin ... have I forgotten anyone? And where's the knitting? Surely someone, below stairs at least, should have knitted a soldier some socks by now? Or maybe Mrs Hughes would like to knit that meagrely clothed baby a hat! I have a pattern she could borrow.
This one. Updated and rejigged, by me, to be knitted in Sirdar Sublime Merino DK as the Downton. Raveled here. You can find the free pattern HERE, should you wish to knit one for a small person with a cold head, or for yourself of course. Edit May '15: Apologies that there is no longer a nicely formatted and downloadable PDF file available, you can blame the people who were selling it without my permission for that. The link above will now take you to a page here on the blog which includes detailed instructions.
Accurately dating undated knitting patterns is notoriously difficult, but this battle scarred Sirdar Knitting and Crochet Book** proved easy to pin down. The 'Doll Dressed in Crochet as a Soldier' was a joy of a clue ... he's wearing WW1 puttees. But the 'Crochet Respirator for Home Use' was the clincher.
"The respirator measures 2 inches at each end and 3 inches in the centre, and it is 9 inches long. Two pieces of crochet are worked exactly the same. Two thicknesses of cotton wool the same size as the crochet are laid between them, and the outside edges fastened together with a row of double crochet. After the respirator is complete, dip the whole in a strong solution of soda and let it dry.1915 then, possibly late April, perhaps May. Chlorine gas, a new threat, was killing hundreds horribly at Ypres, and the Daily Mail was encouraging women to make pad respirators like these to be passed on to troops in the line. Unfortunately, the Mail's design was useless, even dangerous: ineffective against chlorine gas when dry, the pads blocked out all air when wet. Sirdar's crochet respirators seem similarly flawed, so it's a jolly good thing they were never needed for home use!
Back at Downton Abbey Mrs Hughes is now knitting her way through the chest protectors, 'comfy' colic belts, vaccination vests, baby's stays, 'useful' socks, coats, and gaiters that Sirdar so thoughtfully included in their little book. Well I like to think she is, anyway. She'll have that wee bairn properly kitted out in no time!
*We keep our television in a cupboard and rarely go to the trouble of wheeling it out. Downton Abbey certainly was worth the effort, but for how much longer? I chortled my way through this review, but beware if you are a fan and are yet to watch the second series as it's irreverent and full of spoilers.
**Part of my birthday present from that darling husband of mine.