In 2021 we marked the centenary year of the birth of Orkney poet and writer George Mackay Brown. Orkney Library & Archive and the George Mackay Brown Fellowship asked everyone to knit us A Hat for George. The idea was to encourage creativity through knitting, using George’s writing as the inspiration to create a collection of unique knitted hats that we could display and then auction off to raise money for local charities. All money raised from the project was split between Orkney Blide Trust which promotes mental well-being, and the Orkney Youth Cafe which supports our young people here in Orkney.
We were amazed to receive a total of 111 hats from all over the world and when we auctioned them we had bids from all over the world too.
The design brief was very open – hats could be in any style, colour or pattern. In tribute to the writer, we invited knitters to name their design after a novel, story or poem by George Mackay Brown – or even a location, character or line quoted from his work, but this was left up to the individual knitters.
All hats were displayed online and at Orkney Library & Archive before being auctioned off in October 2021, around the time of George’s 100th birthday. See all the hats below.
This beautiful knitted George Mackay Brown doll was one of two dolls sent to us by Alison from Glasgow as part of our Knit a Hat for George campaign. They are based on the Fred Schley painting he is holding which is on permanent display in Stromness Library.
We have one George on display in Kirkwall Library and the other one in Stromness Library though they may also spend some time travelling around Orkney in the Mobile Library.
The Hats on Display
We have patterns and charts available for seven of the knitted hats we received during our #GMB100 Knit a Hat for George campaign. Each pattern costs £3.50 and will be sent by email. To order a pattern please contact the library on 01856 873166 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.