A community knitting enterprise in New Zealand has been catapulted into the spotlight after Prince Harry put one of their beanies on Archie. But the group has been so swamped with orders they have hit the brakes on accepting any more, lest their knitters feel the pressure and stop having “fun”.
To mark the new year the Sussexes posted a picture of Harry and Archie on holiday in Canada, both wearing beanies. “It was a complete surprise, and really exciting,” says Becky Smith, the co-founder of Make Give Live, a social enterprise that donates one hat to charity for every one sold.
The group received thousands of orders for its hats, which are stitched in libraries and cafes around the country by volunteers. “It’s gone crazy, the orders have gone through the roof,” said Smith. “But there will be a delay for hats ordered now – the nature of our knitting groups is about community and nurturing mental health, so we don’t want pressure for anyone to make loads of hats in one week.
“Hats take time, they are made by real people. We don’t want to become high-pressured, we will keep it fun.”
There are 11 groups stitching hats for Make Give Live, including one for newly arrived refugees at the Mangere resettlement centre in Auckland. The group was founded in the Whangaparoa library in 2016 and gifted Archie’s hat to his mother, Megan, when she visited New Zealand in late 2018.
Until the Instagram post Smith said they had forgotten about the gift. In one month of 2019 the group received 45 orders for hats. On Thursday, following the Sussexes’ post, they received more than 300 in a single day.
Smith said they do not track who individually receives donated hats but the counterpart to Archie’s could have gone to a homeless person, a deprived child, a newly arrived refugee or a rough sleeper.
According to a poll by the social enterprise, 80% of knitters involved said the weekly group “makes them feel less lonely”, while 78% said it made them less anxious and 78% felt it “gives them purpose”.
“It’s not just a hat, it’s so much more than a hat,” Smith said.
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