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interesting article … how knitting was used as code in WWII … also, several factoid tidbits & trivia about some cultural uses of knitting ….
During the Second World War the Office of Censorship banned people from posting knitting patterns abroad in case they contained coded messages. There was one occasion when knitting was used for code. The Belgian resistance recruited old women whose windows overlooked railway yards to note the trains in their knitting. Basic stuff: purl one for this type of train, drop one for another type.
The most famous example of knitting being used to record information is Madame Defarge in Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. She sits by the guillotine as the enemies of the French Revolution are beheaded, calmly recording their names in wool as their heads fall into the basket. But there’s no contemporary evidence tricoteuses – knitting women – existed. One of the first actions of the Revolution was a demonstration against food shortages by working-class women. At first venerated as the “mothers of the revolution”, these “bonnes citoyennes” fell from favour during the Terror (1793-94). It seems likely that “knitting women” was a mocking word for female militants, but writers (like Dickens and Carlyle), looking for a bit of colour, interpreted it literally. “
~ read the article —>via http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/qi/10638792/QI-how-knitting-was-used-as-code-in-WW2.html