Walter Reed Hospital, 1918
Shorpy gives us a photograph of recuperating soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital in 1918 with World War I still blazing in Europe. I imagine that these wounded soldiers are knitting for fellow soldiers. (Knitting for soldiers was also the presumption of critics of Knitting in Highbridge Park by George Luks.)
The sight of wounded men knitting highlights the therapeutic effects of all such hand crafts--knitting, hand sewing, crocheting, and embroidery. For example, when the crafty colorist genius Alicia Paulson of Posie Gets Cozy was forced to stay in bed for a full year after her foot had been run over by a truck, she started making things--crocheting, knitting, sewing--to make her recuperation bearable and in the process found a whole new career. I find the repetition of knitting and hand sewing to be relaxing. It calms the soul as an activity in itself and the bonus is that you have something to show for it! It seems that the administration of Walter Reed Hospital in 1918 understood this principle, and so set wounded soldiers to work to knit. That this might be regarded as women's work seemed to be beside the point. It is good work that probably helps the one who does it the most.