When it comes to subterfuge, success can often be found by hiding in plain sight. Take, for example, the lady spies who, over the years, communicated secret information through their knitting. They turned knitting patterns into codes, overheard conversations as their needles clicked, dropped stitches intentionally to conceal messages in scarves and hats. It was clever and perfectly concealed by the stereotype that women’s hobbies—especially those of older women—were silly and harmless.

In Molly “Old Mom” Rinker’s case, she found she was able to hide quite comfortably in the role of “old woman knitting” while she spied on British forces during the Revolutionary War.

Old Mom Rinker uses knitting to her advantage

Enough daring ladies took advantage of this method, especially during WWI, that by the time WWII came around, specific precautions were taken to keep knitted codes from slipping through unnoticed (among other things):

Knitting Spies

Find more clippings on these topics and more with a search on Newspapers.com.

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One thought on “The Knitting Spies of War

  1. That’s really fascinating! AMC’s Turn should have taken note of that. They did the hanging up the black petticoat but not the knitting.
    I’m doing NanoWrimo this month for a story during WWII. When I first read the headlines in the email, I thought I could add this. Then I see it was pretty much shut down by then. Well, it’s worth mentioning anyway.
    I always enjoy these emails about headlines. I just love that sort of thing. I use Newspapers.com for Ancestry but also for just plain research and entertainment.

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