“Get ahead; get a hat!” went the cry from the Hat Council in 1952, but these days a titfer is less de rigeur for professional advancement and more a personal sartorial choice.
Be it millinery for millennials or a thinking cap for philosophers, a beret for the beau monde or a baseball cap for well… anyone, a hat is still where it’s at.
And with the mercury beginning to tumble, and what looks like a chill winter coming our way, some of the best heads in the land are sporting a fine bobble hat in the colours of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity.
But this hat is not available in the shops, not even on the SSAFA Store.
It is free, or more accurately, the pattern for it – dreamt up by SSAFA volunteer Dawn Civill-Williams – is free, gratis, and for nothing.
When not volunteering for SSAFA Bristol and Gloucestershire, she knits for a range of people, including Christmas packages of hats and socks, with a bar of chocolate wrapped inside them, to give to veterans in HMP Leyhill.
Cementing her reputation as an all-round good egg, Dawn also knits hats and socks for people attending the BACE clinic in Banjul, rural Gambia, as well as hats, bootees, and mittens for premature babies at her local hospital’s special care baby unit.
Back to the snazzy SSAFA bobble hat.
All you need to do is download and print the pattern, or use the attached details, and get knitting. As for needles, and wool in SSAFA’s three colours (dark blue representing the Royal Navy, red for the Army, and air force blue for er… the Royal Air Force), well, you’ll need to supply your own.
Dawn says that the free pattern is easy to follow, adding “I can knit one hat in an evening, cats permitting…”.
While the pattern may be free, anyone knitting one or more of these cosy hats may like to consider a donation to SSAFA – there is a link on the website – to help it continue its work with serving personnel, veterans, and their families just as it has for nearly 138 years.
How much to donate is a personal matter, but around £10 – the cost of the balls of wool in the SSAFA colours – seems about right, and three hats can be made from three balls, so it’s a bit of a bargain. You’re welcome to donate any amount you like, of course.
There’s still time to knit a SSAFA bobble hat in time for Christmas for a relative, a friend, or even yourself. And to make it more fun, SSAFA will be delighted to see your bobble hats, especially worn in the strangest of places or even the furthest flung. Post your photos or videos on Twitter at twitter.com/SSAFA.
For more information, visit ssafa.org.uk