Barbara and I have been knitting military uniforms. Small ones; very small in fact. We are just two of the team knitting doll-sized beige 4-pocket jackets, trousers and brimmed hats for the British Team (L’équipe Britannique). All together there is an army of knitters making uniforms for tiny woollen soldiers of all the countries involved in World War One. The project, commissioned as part of the World War One commemoration programme, is called WoolWarOne and is under the command of talented knitting artist, Anna who created the blog Délit Maille.
Délit Maille is more or less pronounced Daily Mail and is a play on those words:
délit means an offence
maille is the word for a knitting stitch
Délit Maille chronicles the daily news with knitted caricatures of personalities in the news. Anna’s first creations for Délit Maille were knitted versions of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a hotel maid. She followed up with a woolly Berlusconi doll complete with party girls, then a small sized Sarkozy doll. Just before kick-off at the World Cup she posted pictures of Didier Deschamps and Franck Ribéry dolls. You get the idea?
Quirky, bordering on kitsch even, these knitted characters are rather clever. The Musée d’Art et d’Industrie André Diligent called La Piscine de Roubaix, near Lille, asked Anna to create an army of knitted dolls as part of the commemorations of World War One. The exposition WoolWarOne will be on show at La Piscine de Roubaix from December 2014 to April 2015.
Meanwhile Anna is organising knitters worldwide to produce tiny knitted backpacks, helmets, belts, braces, jackets and all the uniform details to dress, as authentically as possible, the miniature battalions of French, Belgian, German and Russian, American, Scottish, British and Commonwealth soldiers. Still coming are Greek, Turkish and Indian soldier dolls. As well as despatches on her blog, there are Facebook and Ravelry groups for communication and at intervals she holds workshops where a troop of knitters get together to knit, sew and dress the dolls ready for their places in the exhibition scene. It’s quite fun, there is a lot of camaraderie and the project has created sufficient media interest for France TV3 to air a story on their national news bulletin.
Back in the trenches in Montreuil, Barbara and I commandeered one of our regular Tuesday afternoon get togethers for an ANZAC knitting blitz, complete with ANZAC biscuits as per the NZ Edmonds cookbook recipe. These were truly Allied ANZACs since I used French butter, French brand flour and sugar and Marks & Spencer’s English brand rolled oats, coconut and Golden Syrup.
We are planning an expedition to Roubaix in a few months to see the exhibition. We’re keen to see the final designs included on the British Team soldiers to designate the ANZACs. A full de-brief of our mission will be reported of course.