Join us for an online Research Seminar with Visiting Research Fellow Frances Casey – Free and open to all.

Please join us on Teams by clicking here: no need to register, all welcome.

Tuesday 2 May 2023, 10am

Dr Frances Casey, University of Brighton

Creative codes: Investigating First World War knitting and crochet patterns as mediating objects


During the First World War, knitting garments for men serving at the front and for wounded in hospitals was enthusiastically taken up by people across the country in what was the most widespread public engagement in needlework in the history of Britain. Very few of these garments have survived to the present day, however, as they were intended to weather the elements and saw everyday heavy use. In this talk, I look at First World War knitting and crochet patterns as mediating objects to explore what we can learn about how these garments were created. What do the patterns suggest about people’s concerns, motivations, and technical abilities? I investigate the challenges knitters faced in creating form and functionality; and I outline the issues we face in trying to understand finished garments through these creative codes, which can be both informative and illusive.


Dr Frances Casey has worked as a museum curator at the National Army Museum and as Project Manager at the Imperial War Museum. In 2015 she began a Techne funded PhD at the University of Brighton, researching the role of war effort needlework on the British home front during the First World War. She is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Design History, University of Brighton, working on developing her research for publication.