“Helmet Liners and Face Masks”

My mother started college in Ohio in 1939 at a coed liberal arts school. Two years later a majority of the male students were called up to fight in World War II. My mother told me that she and her classmates spent many hours knitting helmet liners. The image on the right is from a pattern distributed at that time.

Here hospitals face a shortage of face masks to protect workers from the coronavirus. (I am not going to go off on my rant about how insane that is. You can imagine my rant for yourself.) At any rate, women across the country are sharing patterns for making face masks such as shown on the left. Using leftover material women are sewing cotton, cotton flannel and elastic to make these masks. While they are not as protective as the ones hospitals use, they are far better than total exposure. They can be washed and bleached to be reused. Usually face masks are discarded, not reused, but again these are better than no protection.

Here also our governor, having despaired of getting any federal help, has sought protective equipment from any businesses which have it on hand. Sources as varied as college chemistry labs, factories and paint stores have come through with what they have.

I would like this to be a feel good post. It isn’t. It is just a reminder that in desperate situations each of us can use the skills we have in the same way all those knitting coeds passed the time. Please let me know if you have found a way to contribute to the “war effort” as it might as well be called.

26 thoughts on ““Helmet Liners and Face Masks”

  1. The only thing I have done is stay home (I do what I can for my boss via email, texting and phone calls. But I did raise a very responsible family. My sons have both stepped back from work to isolate with their young families – because while they work hard to support them, there priority is keeping them and their communities safe. My daughter and her daughter are working extra (extra long) shifts at our busiest supermarkets.


      1. Thank you. My daughter went home sick yesterday and has to stay away from the store for a couple of days. They are using so much bleach to disinfect everything that she had an asthma attack. Her daughter is going strong. It is appalling how some of the customers are acting and treating supermarket staff right now. Fortunately there are people like you – and believe me, people like you are appreciated.


        1. My granddaughter is sixteen. She is an (evening) supervisor at probably the biggest supermarkets here. She is beyond responsible and sweet for her age which is why she was made a supervisor at 15. She has been doing security lately and must insist people follow protocol. Middle aged women give her grief. (Middle aged men try to pick her up). Luckily she is her mother’s daughter when it comes to dealing with asshats😂.


        2. I worry more about the men that hit on her. She is at the age to feel invincible so she will often walk across the parking lot to her vehicle alone at midnight. It would just take one of those creeps…


  2. While I don’t feel like this falls nearly in the same category as sewing protective equipment for medical personnel, I have been running a “community poetry project” on my blog to hopefully give people a creative outlet and some sense of community during this time of fear and isolation. If anyone wants to join (it is open to anyone and everyone who wants to join in with their own poems or just by reading and commenting on the work of others), please come join us here:


    There are four poems up so far:


    Take care everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how so many people are rising up to the occasion. There are so many needs everywhere it can seem overwhelming. I’ve been battling what I hope is only a cold all week so the best thing I can do is stay at home.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I seem to be over the hump but wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a mild case of Covid-19. No way to know without testing, and no need to be tested since I’m staying at home and doing self-care anyway. Maybe in the future, if they want more data they can test people for antibodies. For now I’m just happy to be on the mend.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Me too. It would yield important information on the actual effects of the virus on the whole population, rather than being skewed by only the numbers that sought testing for their symptoms or ended up in emergency medical treatment.


  4. When I was a child, my Mum knitted me something identical to the one on the right. They were called ‘Balaclava helmets’, named after a battle in the Crimean War in 1854. At that time, women also knitted or wove similar garments to send to British soldiers suffering the winter weather in Russia.

    Julie is collecting medicine prescriptions from where she works at the doctor’s, and we are delivering them to local people who cannot get out, or are self-isolated.

    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lots of people with sewing skills here in UK have also been making face masks for their local hospitals and care homes. It’s very interesting to read about your mother and classmates knitting the helmet linings.


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