Have you ever heard of Christmas at Sea? When DG and I were manning our Fringe Supply Co. booth at Stitches South last spring — back when the Fringe Hatalong Series was brand new — I kept seeing him chatting up these two really cool women who had a nearby booth. Their sign said “Seamen’s Church Institute” and I couldn’t figure out what that could mean, much less what it had to do with knitting. Well, it turned out to be a really interesting story! The Seamen’s Church Institute is a centuries-old advocacy organization for mariners — all those men (mostly) who work on the countless cargo ships that make our way of life possible. It’s a life of dangers and difficulties most of us have never thought about, and SCI provides job training and free legal aid and interfaith chaplains and … Christmas gifts! Every year every mariner who enters a US port gets a present, many of which contain hand-knitted hats and socks made by who-knows-how-many charitable knitters. To that end, SCI has developed knitting and crochet patterns that they know to be what the mariners need and want — free of worksite hazards like pompoms! — including this really cool earflap hat called the 1898 Hat (the year Christmas at Sea began), which was the result of a design contest a couple of years ago sparked by the men’s repeated request for ear flaps.
I loved the story almost as much as I love the hat! And since I had planned to feature a hat charity with each installment of the Hatalong, I was extra thrilled that this one was built in. Thankfully Paige, who runs the Christmas at Sea program, was on board (no pun intended) with the idea of featuring it as a Hatalong pattern.
Backstory aside, there’s a lot to love about this hat – and it’s a great gift hat, whether you give yours to a mariner or a loved one: it’s perfectly unisex, despite its origins; incredibly warm with its double-thick brim and flaps; and is constructed in an intriguing way that will make it fun to knit! You might be thinking it’s all short rows and I-cord, but nope — none of that! It starts with the garter-stitch headband part, which is knitted sideways. The earflaps are shaped with simple increases instead of short rows, and a slipped-stitch ridge along the center of the piece becomes that beautiful thick lower edge once the band is folded in half. It’s brilliant! So that gets folded together, you pick up stitches all the way around, and from that point upwards it’s a basic stockinette cap.
If you do want to donate yours (or one of yours) (I’m guessing there will be lots of multiples with this one) make sure you read through the Christmas at Sea guidelines with regard to yarn and color choice, and where to send it. And if you don’t donate your hat, I hope you’ll consider making a small donation of some kind — from money to toiletries — as a thank-you to SCI for the great free pattern.
Remember to share your progress with hashtag #fringehatalong wherever you post. Also be sure to fave/queue the pattern at Ravelry. I’ll be on the lookout for photos, and will be answering questions posted in the comments below. (There’s no way to guarantee I’ll see it if you post it elsewhere.)
I can’t wait to see your hats!
PREVIOUSLY in Fringe Hatalong Series: No. 5 Seathwaite by Kate Gagnon Osborn