by Jenny Joseph
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
The Red Hat Society is a group that encourages women "to pursue fun, friendship, freedom, fulfillment of lifelong dreams and fitness". Essentially, it's a big social club for women, but also a support network. It was started in 1997 by Sue Cooper, who was inspired by the above poem to give her friend a red hat, along with a copy of the poem. Her friend liked it so much, that Sue was inspired to repeat the gift with several of her friends, and before she knew it, it became a worldwide club. The red-hatters distinguish themselves by going out in public with red hats and purple dresses and having way too much fun.
I'm not old enough to join the Red Hat Society (you have to be 50 or over to join), but until then, I can wear a ridiculous red hat of my own in their honour. My first felted project was this Foxy Felted Cloche (Ravelry link) by glitteratti. Unfelted, of course, it was HUGE, but after a good scrub in the sink with alternating hot and cold water, it shrunk up nicely (and filled my drain with wool fuzz). The yarn is Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted, which felts up really well.
To bling it up, I crocheted and felted the flower from this Lion Brand pattern and attached it to the hat with a brooch I found in my jewelry collection. I also edged it with ribbon I bought at Mokuba on Queen Street West here in Toronto. It's a store devoted entirely to ribbons and trim. Amazing.
This hat, however, is a testament to how long it takes me to finish things. It only took me a day to do the actual knitting, but then it was a month before I got around to felting it, and at least another month before I sewed the flower and ribbon on. I'll probably do another felted project someday, but I have to work on motivating myself to do the finishing steps after the knitting is done!