Illustrated poster of Women's Land Army

Make Do & Mend

When schools and stores and businesses began shutting down in the wake of Covid-19, and store shelves emptied of the staples of daily life, like bread and milk and toilet paper, I was suddenly struck by a sense of deja vu.

Not my own, but Josie’s.
My research for THE LEGEND OF NIMWAY HALL: 1940-JOSIE dropped me into the middle of wartime shortages of everyday things, food rationing and ‘sheltering in place’ during air raids.
Uncertainty, hunkering down, reaching out to help where you can, making do, mending. 
1940 was totally different time and circumstance, but the shortage crisis strikes a familiar tone as I watch health care providers make do and reuse their personal protection equipment.
THE SET UP: The Women’s Institute (WI) and other organizations collected unused knit goods, unraveled and balled the yarn, then knitted the yarn back into new jumpers (sweaters,) scarves and gloves.
     “There you are, Miss Josie,” Mrs. Peak said the moment Josie entered the parlor where the Knit for a Knight ladies were packing  away their work, “we feared you’d gotten lost in the raid.”
     Thoroughly lost, thoroughly kissed. Good grief, did it show? She  could still feel the heat of him, the taste of him. Her cheeks  were flushed as though she’d run a mile and she wondered if the  women suspected that the reason was Gideon.
     “I was just seeing to the stragglers, Mrs. Peak.” To hide her  blush Josie held out a brown jumper by the shoulders. “It’s  beautiful! Who knitted this?”
     “I did the arms,” Vera said, “and Myrna did the body.”
     “Forty-four jumpers in all,” Mrs. Peak said dropping a pile of  folded knitwear into a box, “and six dozen scarves.”
     “My dear ladies,” Josie said, looking around at their earnest  faces, “I know I don’t say it enough, but I’m so very proud of you  and all the work you do for the war effort. Our men in uniform  will be so grateful come winter to be wearing one of your lovely  creations.” The jumpers were expertly constructed, every knit and  purl made with love toward a complete stranger.
     “If it weren’t for your gift for talking people out of their  donations, Miss Josie,” Vera said, shaking a ball of yarn pulled  from the woman’s own reclaimed cardigan, “we’d not have wool enough to make a single knit cap.”
     Josie smiled. “Let’s keep collecting yarn and knit goods wherever  we can beg them. We’ll meet here again next week, after the  Spitfire Fete. Fingers crossed there’s not another air raid!”


History is the perfect guide to the future, if used to enlighten and include.