A Hat for George!

To make things is to do well                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  *                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         And to do things in harmony, all
trades and images cohering, is                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     to catch time and form in their
flight, until all cry Gloria   

from “Anne Bevan, Sculptor. Hills, Woolcraft, Stone”, The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown (John Murray, 2005) p. 327

Featured photograph and hat: Sheila Garson

In the centenary year of the birth of George Mackay Brown the GMB Fellowship joined with Orkney Library and Archive to create a lightsome project inspired by the activities of the Yap and Yarn groups which, until lockdown, met regularly in the winter months in the libraries in Kirkwall and Stromness. And they are meeting once again. See the Orkney Library website for details. The project has been hugely successful. We inspired knitters everywhere to celebrate  #GMB100, linking craft and the words of the writer by knitting A Hat for George.

The hats were worked in a great number of styles, colours and patterns. In tribute to the writer, most of the knitters named their hat design after a novel, story or poem by George Mackay Brown – sometimes a location, character or line quoted from his work. The designs that came in very cleverly matched so many of GMB’s themes, tropes and titles.


There have been two exhibitions. Hats were photographed in Orkney Library & Archive and posted online with details of where in Orkney – or the rest of the world – they came from, forming a colourful online exhibition. Then in October, the month of George Mackay Brown’s birth, library staff displayed all the hats contributed in an exhibition titled A Hat for George in Orkney Library & Archive.

Following the exhibition, the hats were auctioned and proceeds will be given to two local charities.

The Charities

Money raised from the auction will go to two Orkney charities, Orkney Blide Trust and Orkney Youth Cafe.

Because George Mackay Brown suffered from depression on and off all his days and because he still, in spite of that, wrote many wonderful poems and stories and novels, the GMB Fellowship and Orkney Library & Archive decided to donate the proceeds of the auction of the hats to two local charities dealing either directly or indirectly with mental health issues. We have asked that the money be spent on creative activities that will enhance the mental health and wellbeing of the users of the projects: writing or art or photography – or knitting! Both charities are delighted to have been chosen and are very grateful to all of you who have knitted such beautiful hats.

You can see some of the hats here in the slideshow above and also in the Hat Gallery.

A full exhibition of the hats is available to look at on Orkney Library & Archive website: https://orkneylibrary.org.uk/a-hat-for-george/

Go to the Hat Gallery.

Return to GMB Centenary 2021

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