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WWII Turtleneck Sweater

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Holly Shaltz, Fiberist
PO Box 136
Boyne City MI
49712 USA
(231) 582 3206
(231) 582 0426

Print Version Here


Sharon Earley of the American Red Cross in San Antonio, Texas, bought on eBay an old Bucilla Yarn booklet, entitled "Practical, Warm Hand Knits for Service Men," full of instructions for knitting items for military men during World War II. The booklet is Volume 318, dated 1940, and is marked 10 cents!

Sharon sent me scans of each page of the booklet so I could put them on my website as companions to the WWI knit patterns. Since the instructions are relatively modern, I've simply retyped them verbatim. Please read the World War II Pattern FAQ if you have any questions.

Abbreviations used: st - stitch, sts - stitches, k - knit, p - purl, tog - together

Turtle-Neck Sweater No. 201

Editorial note: This sweater is worked in an unusual manner: First the back is worked, then the front is worked in one piece with the back from the shoulders to the bottom ribbing. I wonder if sweaters knit flat in two separate pieces tended to fall apart at the shoulder seams, suggesting this alternate method of construction during the war? This sweater could also be easily done in rounds, working front and back at the same time.

Whether the body of the sweater is knit flat or not, I do encourage knitters to work the turtleneck in rounds.

The finished garment size is about 37 inches (95 cm) around the chest for medium, and about 35 inches (89 cm) for small. These sizes are small for modern Americans, so plan to alter the pattern to fit the recipient.

Medium Size (38-40); Smaller Size (34-36) in parenthesis.

Turtle-Neck Sweater
Turtleneck Sweater

MATERIALS: Bear Brand or Bucilla "AA" De Luxe Knitting Worsted, 5 skeins, or Bear Brand or Bucilla Standard Knitting Worsted, 5 skeins.

Bucilla White 14-inch Knitting Needles, 1 pair Size 7, and 1 pair Size 4, Article 3846.

Gauge: 5 sts=1 inch, 13 rows=2 inches

BODY-- With the fine (No. 4) needles, cast on loosely 86 (82) sts for lower edge of back; work in ribbing of k 1, p 1, for 5 inches. K 1 row plain, increasing in every 10th (12th) st, 94 (88) sts on needle. Change to the large needles and work even in stockinette stitch (k 1 row, p 1 row) until back measures 15 inches from beginning (or work to any desired length at underarm).

Bind off 4 (3) sts at beginning of each of the next 2 rows; decrease 1 st at both ends in each of the next 4 knit rows, 78 (74) sts left. Work even for 7 1/2 (7 1/4) inches, ending with a purled row.

Next row divide for neck opening: k the first 54 (52) sts and slip them to a stitch holder (or strand of yarn). On remaining 24 (22) sts work 8 rows even (left shoulder), ending at neck. Increase on 2nd st from neck in next row, and in every knit row thereafter, until there are 8 increased; p back to neck after the last increased row.

Of the 54 (52) sts left on holder, slip 30 sts to a large safety pin, to be kept for back of collar; slip remaining 24 (22) sts to the free needle, and the 32 (30) left shoulder sts now on needle to stitch holder; work second shoulder same as first, ending last increasing row at armhole; k back to neck, cast on 14 sts for front of neck and k the 32 (30) sts from first side on to the same needle.

Work even on these 78 (74) sts for 25 (23) rows, ending with a purled row. Increase on 2nd st at both ends in each of the next 4 knit rows; cast on 4 (3) sts at beginning of each of the following 2 rows.

Work even on these 94 (88) sts until front is as long as back at underarm, before ribbing, ending on wrong side. Change to the fine needles, k 1 row knitting together every 10th and 11th (12th and 13th) st. Work in ribbing of k 1, p 1 on remaining 86 (82) sts for 5 inches; bind of loosely, knitting the knitted and purling the purled sts.

Sew side seams.

TURTLE-NECK COLLAR-- Slip the 30 sts held on safety pin at back of neck to the fine needles, pick up an extra st at each end of needle; working from right side, k 1 row increasing in every 5th st (38 sts on needle). Work in ribbing of k 1, p 1, for 6 inches; bind of loosely as on lower edge of front. Pick up and k 58 (54) sts on neck edge of front, 20 (19) sts on each side and 18 (16) sts across center; work ribbing as on back and bind off loosely. Sew sides of ribbing together.

SLEEVES-- Cast on 56 (54) sts on the fine needles and work in ribbing of k 1, p 1, for 22 rows. Change to the large needles and work in stockinette stitch, 14 rows even. Increase 1 st at both ends of next row, and of every 10th row thereafter, until there are 10 (8) increases at each side, 76 (72) sts on needle. Work even until sleeve measures 21 inches from beginning (or work to any desired length of sleeve at underarm). Bind off 6 (4) sts at beginning of each of the next 2 rows, then bind of 2 sts at beginning of every row for 16 rows, and 3 sts at beginning of each of the following 2 rows; bind off remaining 26 sts.

Sew sleeve seams; baste and sew sleeves into armholes, with seams meeting at underarm.

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