#WATCHthisCAP: Small Hats Making a BIG Difference

Oct 16, 2013

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) asks knitters to help increase awareness of mariners’ contributions by making—and hiding in plain sight—mini mariners’ watchcaps. The hats draw attention to the fact that mariners, whose work is often hidden in plain sight, deliver more than 90% of all imported goods.

SCI makes available a pattern for a miniature mariners’ watchcap (along with an informational tag to attach) as part of a nationwide activity called #WATCHthisCAP. Knitters and their friends place completed knits in conspicuous places to educate the public about the world’s maritime workforce. SCI’s #WATCHthisCAP movement hopes these handknit creations will reveal a fact few realize: much of what shoppers purchase on a day-to-day basis comes courtesy of the men and women of maritime commerce.

The hats fit bottle tops—from olive oil to wine—but also can garnish other things like gas pumps or bicycles. People can track the placement of the mini hats and monitor their impact on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #WATCHthisCAP. The colorful wool on top of everyday items might draw some strange looks, but people examining the tag affixed to each hat soon understand: “From smartphones to blue jeans, cars to fuel, mariners bring us the comforts of our daily lives.”

SCI designed the miniature cap to mirror a life-sized watchcap, a hat design that has protected mariners traveling on cold waters for hundreds of years. Annually, thousands of SCI volunteers handcraft these hats to keep mariners’ heads warm. Knitters and crocheters send in their creations—hats and scarves, vests and socks, too—to SCI’s volunteer knitting program, Christmas at Sea, which distributes the garments to mariners arriving into ports around the United States.

Anyone interested in participating in this project should visit http://seamenschurch.org/WATCHthisCAP to learn more. SCI supplies tags, patterns and project promotion materials free of charge.