Every year this debate comes up on Facebook/twitter etc: the Innocent hats... 
This year's latest debate that I read was prompted by the sharing of Joy aka The Knitting Goddess' blog post HERE. I think Joy makes a number of good points in her post, and I've seen so many people agree, as well as some people seemingly getting very offended by it - it is not an attack on the knitters who generously give their time to knit these hats; what it does do however is question whether we would be better using our time to knit other, perhaps more useful items. And could Innocent maybe adapt what they're doing into something more useful on real terms?

I've made Innocent hats. Years ago, when Innocent was just Innocent. I enjoyed it and the hats were really cute. I bought a couple of bottles with cute hats on too, and used the hats as Christmas decorations; I probably still have them somewhere. They are brilliant PR for Innocent and Age UK - particularly Innocent, obviously. Any business would be foolish not to run with the success of the hats.

HOWEVER: a) I reckon they could donate more, b) I absolutely feel that knitting actual hats for real people (or blanket squares, or scarves) is WAY more useful in real terms, and these days I donate any spare ex-display sample knits/crochet that I can from my business to Knitting For Peace (highly recommended); c) I'm sure that the tiny hat campaign could be improved upon to somehow combine the attractiveness of it (what with being so cute) with valuing peoples' time more realistically and generating bigger donations plus actual warm clothing - ideally it would also draw attention to the value of actual wool (the hats I made used wool - actual wool - yarns). That being said, a really good point made over on Facebook is that this Innocent campaign brings a lot of attention to Age UK that they might not otherwise get. Furthermore they do more than provide older people with warm clothes: they do things like organising outings and social gatherings for them, and they need money to be able to do that; not handknits. This however brings me back to the point that I am sure that Innocent could work with what they've got to build something even better and increase monetary donations further. Some poeople have the money but not the time to donate, whereas others have the time (for knitting) but not the money. I think the question is really how can Innocent and Age UK most effectively tap into that? Perhaps if the knitting itself was better valued, that might be a great start? Innocent actually used to donate 50p per hat but that has now gone down to 25p.

So... I already mentioned Knit For Peace - they are one of the many charities that truly value knitting and crochet, and not only do they accept made items but they'll accept yarn, needles, crochet hooks, and notions too - they distribute to a wide variety of charities so you know your donations will be used by needy people both at home in the UK as well as across the world. I love to think that the knitwear I've sent to them might be keeping someone warm in both London and Syria. And being wool, those items will last for ages for people without needing to be washed, and when they do eventually get ragged they can be put in landfill or wherever they'll end up, and they will degrade properly.

Further reading:

Over on the Wovember blog there's a discussion HERE about this very same topic, and that's really worth reading - it talks more in depth about wool specifically and how the words 'woolly' have been appropriated for selling non-wool items for charity (you'll have to read it to get the full picture otherwise I'll end up telling you all the same stuff!).

What's the thing in the cover photo?

That's a lap blanket that I crocheted for my Grandma; she's now 98 and has been using it for years. It's only ever been washed once because that's all it's needed - she's looked after it and it has looked after her. It's made from 100% superwash British Bluefaced Leicester wool so it is soft for her, but hardwearing and washable. Should you wish to make one, the pattern is Neat Ripple by Lucy of Attic 24 - it's a free pattern and I highly recommend it. 

So.. what do you think? Could Innocent be doing better? Do you knit or crochet for charity, and if so which one(s)?


  • ECY - Admin

    Thanks for commenting, Penny. It’s great to find a fellow Knit For Peace donor! At a guess, I’d suggest West Yorkshire Spinners maybe for good value pure wool? Or there’s always Drops – their yarn is really good value and you can get pure machine washable wool from them. KAS sounds like a great charity – I shall look into that for our next round of ex-display sample donations. :)

    Victoria ECY on

  • ECY - Admin

    Thanks for commenting, Jane; I’m glad someone agrees with me! It’s even harder to reconcile this sort of thing happening now that Innocent are owned by Coca Cola.

    Victoria ECY on

  • I thoroughly agree with Jane’s comment. I was going to knit some hats this year but simply couldn’t justify promoting the company for such a small donation from the drinks sold. I now feel better about my decision having read your article! Instead I continued with blanket squares for Knit For Peace and recently bought some DK wool (real wool) for knitting hats and wristwarmers for KAS care, -orphaned and vulnerable children in South Africa; many due to AIDS. I was alerted to their need by Knit For Peace. However, I’ve had to scout around for good quality but cost effective 100% wool. Knit For Peace has many other charities to knit for as well as its own, as large or small an item as you wish, this country or abroad, you choose. As regards raising awareness for Age UK, how about just knitting a hat or other accessory with their logo prominently displayed on it, and either gifting or wearing it!? Well done you for donating ex display knits to the charity, I think that’s great. I just hope my OKD is never cured (obsessive knitting disorder!)

    Penny on

  • Let’s be brutally honest. We’re not dealing with the beloved ‘Innocent’ company now, it’s part of Coca Cola. And they are abusing the skills and time of knitters with the derisory donation. Much better to do as you suggest and give time & talents to organisations such as Knit For Peace, and definitely to use natural, sustainable wool and not pollute the world further with petroleum derived acrylic yarn

    Jane on

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