I stumbled across the above video – a brief history of the UK’s Ramblers Association – quite by chance the other day. I was surprised and a bit puzzled by the derision and vitriol of some of the comments. I had no idea that bobbles (the woolly ones attached to hats) could provoke such violent upset.
Though I probably should, looking back to my youth. I think my mother must have had a hat fetish, as she was forever knitting or crocheting the most elaborate confections, which I was then obliged to wear to school. And the bobble on my hat could turn up anywhere, not just on the top. The bobbles on my hats could dangle over one ear, or both ears, singly or in clusters.
I remember one hat in particular. It was white and crocheted – a ‘Wee Willie Winkie’ nightcap, complete with long tail and there were long straps that tied under the chin. The giant bobble dangled from the end of the tail. That bobble proved irresistible to the boys in my school. By the time May was out and I was allowed to cast a clout, as the saying goes, I had been all but garrotted countless times as the bobble, if yanked savagely enough (and it was, often) caused the under-chin straps to be jerked with equal savagery against my throat.
I haven’t been able to find a picture of this hat, though I did find, at The Retro Knitting Company, a pattern for a balaclava. It reminded me of my brother Peter, who wore out many a balaclava. These kept head, ears and neck very cosy, were totally safe, being free of bobbles or other abuse-inviting titillation – and were only for boys!
Hurray for the Women’s Liberation Movement, for liberating us girls from unsuitable, uncomfortable, non-utilitarian headgear.
Long live the balaclava. You can get them with bobbles too and I reserve the right to ramble in bobbles should I choose with no apologies for any distress it might cause.
I also reserve the right to ramble hatless, which I did, yesterday, along part of the Saxon Shoreway, which I – and the others I met along the way – might not have been able to do, perhaps, without the work of walking clubs like the Ramblers which, among other things, ensure that public rights of way aren’t surreptitiously fenced off.
- Mini hats! (tonimichellecrafts.wordpress.com)