Across Ontario and the rest of Canada, groups of volunteer knitters have been coming together for decades to volunteer their services to the Canadian Red Cross.

Today’s knitting circles are making mittens and other garments for communities in need. One example of a knitting circle is in Port Hope, Ontario, where a group of a dozen volunteers knits up to 700 pairs of mittens every year that are distributed to schools across the county.

Red Cross knitting circles is a tradition that dates back to World War II. In her blog, Dominant Hands, Allison in Nova Scotia found an excerpt about the war-time knitters in the minutes from a meeting of the Red Cross Society of Brackley Beach, Prince Edward Island in 1940.

The blog refers to the Red Cross booklet "Knitting Instructions for War Work,” printed in November 1940, which includes instructions for heavy service socks with shaped leg, double heel and flat toe; toque useful for a sleeping cap, or half mitts with finger sections.