Crochet can hat, 1968-1970

We try to approach every object in the FIDM Museum collection with a critical, evaluative eye. But how do you maintain the necessary scholarly distance when confronted with a hat made from beer cans? It's hard not to smile, or at least raise an eyebrow when you see this creative hat.

2003542-2Novelty hat
Aluminum cans, acrylic yarn
Museum purchase

Novelty hats constructed from beer cans bound with crocheted yarn seem
to have emerged in the late 1960s, an example of a resurgent interest
in hand-made clothing. In reaction to the highly synthetic materials and
structured shapes popular in the mid-sixties, a fashion counterculture
emerged that prized natural fibers and small-scale or handmade
production. Garments became more individually expressive of the maker,
and often featured hand-crafted elements such as patchwork, embroidery,
visible hand-stitching, hand-painting, and crochet. Re-worked second
hand or non-western garments were also popular wardrobe
items for those interested in rejecting the fashion system. If not made by the wearer, garments with these elements were
usually produced in small batches by individual craftspeople. The late '60s crocheted dress featured in this post is a great example of how hand-made clothing entered retail markets. It is from a small line hand-made in Portugal by designer Robert Car. The line retailed at Sak's Fifth Ave and I. Magnin.

Not a high-fashion item, crocheted can hats were a crafty project that could be made at home from a printed pattern. Though most often made from beer cans, these hats could be constructed from any empty aluminum beverage can. Some versions feature wide bands of crochet, with the yarn used as a decorative element that almost overshadows the imagery on the cans. Our hat, however, uses crocheted yarn sparingly, bringing the focus entirely on the beer cans. To make the hat, empty cans were cut to the desired size, and the edges perforated before being crocheted together. If you'd like to try and make your own beverage can hat, try this detailed tutorial. If you make one this weekend, send us a picture!



2 responses to “Crochet can hat, 1968-1970

  1. Kelsey says:

    “reaction to the highly synthetic materials […] popular in the mid-sixties…”

    The irony is, I bet most of the crocheted beer can hats were made with ACRYLIC yarn, just like this one!

  2. Rachel says:

    So true! This is definitely the downward slope of the late ’60s return to natural fibers and handmade techniques! It’s definitely an example of those ideals being interpreted in an unexpected way.

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