the tale of shirt

'By the end of 1942 Australia was accepting that the effects of the war had made drastic inroads into the supply of many things they had hitherto taken for granted and that rationing of a number of items was a reality to be lived with. Shortages meant savings had to be made: Some of them in quite ingenious ways.

Gentlemen . we regret to inform you that the national interest you are to lose 3 - 5 inches from the tails of your shirts. We do not mean that the prime minister will come around with a pair of scissors to take a portion of your present outfit but that new garments will be much shorter. You are also to lose a smaller part if the shirt front and also your double cuffs. Pyjamas are also to be modified as doublebreasted types are out and pockets will disappear . These regulations will save much valuable material and the men will grin and bear it as such a patriotic gesture'

the eastern recorder 30 October 1942

women's arts in war time Australia

"After 1914 there was no public interest in major pursuits orientated towards beautifying the home lest they be considered frivolous. Women's magazines were careful to keep up patriotic sentiments in support of young men fighting at the front.During the 1914 war Australian women made numerous filet crochet commemorative works with inscriptions such 'as our hero we are proud of him'.
Patterns of flags and commonly used words were supplied but many women adapted these and added their own phrases and Australian motifs - kangaroos, emus, wattle . the technique of filet crochet which is like counted thread work lends itself to reproducing any pattern or design once graphed so that women could design any banner, cloth or slogan they wished"

during the war 1914 -18 some knitting was done but
by world war 2 knitting was the universal war time craft .

the needles clacked in every public place

  • trams
  • buses ,
  • in trains ,
  • in sewing circles
  • at home
  • even in church with special permission ..
  • in their offices
  • in factories
  • lunch breaks
  • school girls knitted in playgrounds
  • movies

worldwide public knitting day


raw wool was received from all country branches and the society organised spinning by members. the oily raw wool was particularly important for socks for sailors but few women recall working with it with any pleasure; most preferred the fine machine wool provided by firms such as Paton and Baldwin. Hand knit garments reassured the recipients of the support of people at home. But 1943 voluntary workers at the Australian comforts fund handed over 400 000 garments ready for shipment.

womens involvement was primarily in traditional crafts and 'keep the home fires burning'. The war it seemed would call women 'not to arms but to knitting needles'

in the living rooms across the country in the quiet hours after dinner , listening to the wireless and waiting to hear news of the front the army of knitters increased their production until their efforts exceeded the requirements of the comforts fund. Once the basic steps of mastering the technique were accomplished , the tranquil and repetitive process of knitting provided a therapeutic form of creative relaxation in times of stress. the way the needlework, knitting or crochet slowly grows and can be picked up at the odd moment serves to calm the nerves and assist people to get over times of family crisis.

slow making

What is Slow Making? Its not a nostalgic return to some bucolic fantasy, but a philosophy that wants to discuss placing the maker, the artist, the designer in an ethical context. An ethical context that respects the speed of the hand in making, that understands the unique tempo of crafted production, knows too that its materials have been sourced by sustainable means and respecting of the communities where it came from. An ethical context that also encompasses ethical business practices. A philosophy that engages with the longevity of an object, & how it can be maintained and repaired over generations. A philosophy that values appropriate excellence - objects, art and design that fits within the social and economic context of its end user.

Slow Making Manifesto

1.To strive for appropriate excellence in the making process

2. To make objects that enhance the life of the user

3. To know the origins of our materials, ensuring that they respect country; the communities who produced or harvested them and are from sustainable sources

4. To make objects that will last, can be easily repaired when necessary and are made using materials and processes that do not harm the makers, the community or the environment

5. To deal with our co-workers, clients, suppliers and sellers in an ethical and fair manner

6. To foster, utilise and pass on skills that enhance the making process

7. To enjoy and relish the way of slow making

As makers, artists, designers and craft workers, we all recognise the difficulty of surviving in a world geared to mass consumption, mass manufacture and mass obsolescence. Slow Food has been about not just describing and demanding change to the way that food is produced, but just as important, it has worked very very hard at educating people about the importance, the difference between Slow Food and mass food. Can Slow Making be used to do a similar thing? To educate an audience about materials, aesthetics, skill and beauty. And the possibility of making your living ethically .