The Secret Ingredient to Enjoying Work
Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Red Hat Culture
| June 21, 2022
Quality. We strive to create it, and we are drawn to consume it. How to work in such a way as to create quality is a topic of eternal discussion. Skill, talent, inspiration, work ethic — though every one of them are probably true in some measure, here at Red Hat Factory, we’ve chosen an often neglected virtue to highlight — and that’s not without reason.
It makes a blatant show in our hand knit wares, and that is where it first made it’s way into our language. After the skill of knitting has been learned, and the talent honed, all it takes to craft a great beanie is two knitting needles, yarn, and patience. And the moment you let that patience drop, quality begins dipping.
My entire childhood I saw my mom knitting while hanging out with her friends. I’ve seen her knit on an airplane (why is that legal btw — those needles?), or while she watches TV with my dad. And it is that restful state that makes each stitch even.
I consider myself first and foremost a writer, then a designer. My driving force behind running Red Hat Factory is to craft stories about our heritage and share it with the world. And the beanies, they are a mere token of the lifestyle we like. One of valuing your family and friends, the sharing of tales and time, and products that are made in such an environment.
Here’s what I find again and again. No matter what craft you’re pursuing, patience is mixed into the essence of everything. The moment I see the finished product in my mind’s eye — the complete article, the perfect imagery, the perfect presentation — that is when I have to take a deep breath, and realize that it will take a long time to get there.
“Patience gave value to the journey as well as the finished product.”
Then when I focus on the restful discipline of the work, enjoy my breaks with friends without thinking about work — the work just happens, and the craziest thing of all, I actually enjoy it. And there we are, the finished article I envisioned (yes, this one). I could have got here in many ways, but patience gave value to the journey as well as the finished product.
I made patience a core Red Hat Factory value for more reasons that one. It is in our products, yes, but it is also my biggest crux in life. I am so easily drawn into the vortex of hurry, as I am sure many of you can relate to. I am ambitious to a fault, and living in Stockholm City, where everyone is constantly on their way somewhere, does not contribute to healing my dysfunction.
So my journey as this brand grows, is to learn to do life in bite size chunks, and savor each bite. To learn to value the journey over the destination (Sanderson shoutout for my fellow nerds).
Every step matters. Every job, every experience, every text written, all amounts towards a larger ability and future opportunity. Every line written needs its proper attention before it can contribute as it ought to the whole.
“Every line written needs its proper attention before it can contribute as it ought to the whole.”
I am always reading up on the big brands that I love. Ones that I perceive as committed to quality before speed of production. In a satisfying paradox, it seems the virtue of patience, which should slow you down, actually speeds you up in the long run. The snowball of patience is increased trust, and over time, that tends to pay off.
And who knows, if we do a proper, whole hearted job with what’s in front of us, we might last beyond our own spans and into generations to come.
And if not, at least we slowed down enough to enjoy what we’re doing.
I was in my mother’s basement browsing though yarn, and noticed a few pastel colors laying next to each other. Then I picked up another and then another. And as quickly as that, we had put together the 2022 Limited Edition beanies.
It is really that easy to come up with something new. That is the fun of crafting it right at home (though I live in Sweden now) and having raw materials, production and packaging in the same house. Especially since the Limited Editions are made in very low amounts (as opposed to our main collection.)
We called the new pastel beanie line up The Subtle Summer Shades.
What would a pastel beanie line up be without Peach — maybe the most pastel pastel there is.
Going with the summer theme, we named the other beanie after the delicious fruity flavors you often find in your ice cream.
While naming this beanie I learned the difference between violet and purple. In Norway we only have one word for that color (unless you’re a painter, then you probably have more).
Peach and Pear for your summer tastes, Violet like the viola flowers sprouting in early spring — what better to round it off with than the Sky itself.
So in spite of it being summer, we’ve prepped something new to cover your precious head. After all summer is not all sun, and you’ll be better off with a woolen beanie in your pack.
Mom’s Market is something we set up so that we could have some creative freedom. When my mother or I come up with an idea that’s epic, but it’s not quite an entirely new product — then we have a place to put it.
Growing a beanie company and staying true to your authentic core is actually very hard. It requires taking deep breaths, hydrating frequently, and considering all things before acting. This is a story of when I almost went astray.
Averagely one third of your life is spent working, so I refuse to spend that time with something I don’t care about. I will say what I believe, and I will believe what I say, even when running a brand.
But one has to adapt.
Sometimes, this tinkering with words and trying to reach out through the internet, goes too far.
Thus the title of this article.
Back to that title…
I was learning about Instagram, algorithms, numbers and stats and blah blah blah. Then, somewhere deep down the wormhole, I encountered this link, saying “Headline Generator.”
My curiosity was piqued, so I gave it a click.
It’s one of the funniest, stupidest so-called tools I’ve ever seen.
First click created the headline I used for this article, then…
“The Truth About the Beanie Industry”
“5 Things the Media Hasn’t Told You About Beanie”
“How Beanies Saved My Life”
“How to Have a Healthier Relationship With Beanies”
“11 Ways Beanies Can Suck the Life Out of You” — this one gave me a chuckle for sure.
“The Devastating Environmental Impact of Beanies”
We could go on forever. I was chuckling every time I hit generate titles.
The funny thing is, I would have loved to read most of those articles. And I could write them if I wanted to. Maybe use The Truth About the Beanie Industry to expose how my mother’s wrists aches from knitting too much. Or 11 Ways Beanies Can Suck the Life Out of You to tell of how my dad, groaning, has to size-test a new beanie design yet again.
I mean, I’m already writing from the first generated title.
There is always something to learn (one of my core values) even in a stupid title generator. There is something there about how we humans are wired, and what we find interesting.
But more than anything, I am learning more and more that Red Hat Factory is no longer my company. It belongs to each of you beanie and handcraft enthusiasts out there, who have taken part by getting one of our beanies.
And I’ve learned that writing what you like to read, doesn’t have to oppose what I like. We’re all human, and we can find something beautiful we call common ground.
The common ground we aim for is well wrapped up in the words patience, passion, hiking and handcraft.
Patience, because we honor old tested and tried values — like the patience it takes to develop a skill and craft a good product.
Passion, because we love other humans, and are interested about the moments when they create something with passion.
Hiking, because we love the outdoors (as every Norwegian is obliged to say).
Handcraft, because we believe there is something special about things made by human hands, and not machines.
Since we’re building this brand as a community, I hereby invite you into an open conversation — any and every feedback you have (whether on email, Instagram, or right here in the comments) is valued and considered carefully. And if many speak the same thing, I will more easily find those things that both you and I like.
As long as we center around the core values of patience, passion, hiking, and handcraft… and of course beanies.
Do you feel a little less afraid of beanies now?
I thought so.
When the rain is such that you don’t see the need to carry full rain gear, it’s great to have something versatile. A wool beanie stays warm in the rain, and handles the light summer drizzle perfectly.
The weather in Norway, along with all the other Nordic, coast-long countries is always shifting. A hike might not be in the rain, but you never know if rain will pay a short visit as it passes by (probably on its way to Bergen — but that’s another story).
The reason Norwegians love wool is because it keeps you insulated even when wet. So for the misty moist mountain trips (yeah, that sounds nasty, I know), or a shifting summer day with a risk of drizzle, we could simply not come up with anything better than a wool beanie.
Norwegians also very commonly wear wool underwear through cold winters. The reason it works so well is that wool draws moisture away from your body at the fibre level. Meaning that even when you grind the wool down to thin layers of fabric, it keeps this feature.
So whether it’s a light summer rain, moisture from sweat or mist, the wool does the job fantastically.
The soft, constant murmur of countless waterfalls is the first thing that reminds me where I am when I wake up on the final day. Then, to my delight, I hear bells.
Norwegian hills are riddled with sheep. Even when you’re on a wild mountain, completely off the beaten path, there is a high likelihood that a shepherd has been there before you.
Some of my first childhood memories, traveling around Norway in our red bus, is about chasing sheep over mountain slopes. So when the bells ring, I am flooded by memories of times with family and friends in the mountains.
Ringing bells under braided birch The call of God’s own roofless church Awake to water murmuring And rustling leaves begin to sing My eyes still closed, the walls so thin Every sound of nature invited in I stay in my bed, my ears alive Each sound turning into a memory revived
Friendship and family is at the heart of every trek and every cabin stay, and this time is no different.
The final day of this cabin stay with Asbjørn — the Norwegian bear of the mountains — is over, and today is the day of the return.
Soon we’ll pack up, and my trip to my wife and home in Stockholm will commence. Hours of riding back over the mountains to my parents place, then a sleepover, then a lonesome bus ride to Oslo, and a train back to Stockholm.
And the whole trip alone.
Alone versus together, is a topic I could talk about for ages without coming to any sensible conclusion. I love being with people, but sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I hate it, but I need it, so when I do it I love it. So I love it. And sometimes I hate being with people, but then I realize I just hate being with me.
Anyway. Investing in friendship is something that gets more valuable as I age. My relationship to stuff and belongings gets gradually more relaxed, and just sitting down and looking another person in the eye, increases in value. So when I’m drawn between choosing alone, or with a friend — I’ve never regretted choosing the latter.
Let me live, days without end Give me endless gardens to tend Hills to conquer, cliffs to ascend Unchartered road around the bend Give me space to heal and mend Vast views I cannot comprehend Rivers snaking, falls descend Dawn-brought fire to darkness rend But give me none of these If not with a friend
As I said, the road finally turns homeward. To Stockholm, alone on a bus and a train. Plenty of time to reflect on this year’s trip to the mountains.
Leaving the mountains behind, we snatched photos from the car. Too many photos — and with little care for each one. There was a time there were it was more of an impulse for me — hey, nice mountain, let me snatch you!
I’ve learned better since this trip. First I had a long time on the opposite side of the pendulum, refusing to even raise the camera to my eye, religiously enjoying the moment. But I soon landed somewhere in between.
There are moments meant for the camera, and they should be captured only when you have time to enjoy the process, and work until you’re satisfied with the results. All the other moments that fly by and are only captured on your retina, those become memories, exclusive to the ones who were on the trip together.
They become another bow that ties the friendship together.
So on we go. To a home that awaits, away from these mountains that always will own a piece of my soul.
The picture above marked the beginning of an incredible journey. But before that, we did something we should have done a long time ago — hone in our focus on one single thing: Beanies.
This article is a look back on 2021, but to get this story right, I have to rewind to something I merely brushed past in our 2020 recap article, but turned out to be pivotal.
“This fall, I chose to put many side projects on ice, to let Red Hat Factory get the love it deserves.”Meself
That right there is the greatest choice I have done in many, many years. Focus, it turns out was the one missing ingredient to bring Red Hat Factory from a side gig, to something that has started snowballing.
I was honestly doing terrible the summer of 2020. The last month before vacation, I woke up with panic attacks more nights than I didn’t, feeling like I couldn’t breathe.
So when vacation time arrived, I took a firm grip. I uninstalled social media and embraced the feel of grass beneath my feet and spent hours just looking at my nine month old son trying to traverse the lawn outside my parents’ house.
Honestly, as much as I don’t want to admit it, I needed a severe stress detox.
I decided to take exercise more seriously. I began running, though my asthma threatened to choke me every time. And I added some healthy food habits to complement it.
It was immensely hard to change those few core habits, but eventually it began paying off, and many of those changes have stuck with me, so now I’m stronger than before this panic ridden season began.
It was also an amazing summer, as described in that 2020 recap — but reading that article now, I feel like I painted a very one-sided shallow picture.
Me and my wife usually do a yearly review of all the activities we’re doing. We just sit down and rattle off everything we do, while the other takes notes. Are we doing too little of something, too much of something?
This year, I was tired. Tired of trying too many things. Tired of seeing a low return on work hours. I arrived at an epiphany. If it doesn’t hurt, I’m not killing my darlings properly. So I gathered up all my little pet projects, said a teary eyed goodbye, and promised myself I would not touch them ever again.
And I haven’t.
There were a lot of small projects that hurt to let go, but most painfully, I decided that I would stop pursuing new clients for my freelancing, and only focus on the ones I have, plus Red Hat Factory.
This freed up about 50% of my work time for Red Hat Factory. In the beginning it was yet another detox. I had to let idea after exciting idea die. Then a few days later that energy would resurrect inside of the confines of Red Hat Factory.
“I had to let idea after exciting idea die.”
There is a Norwegian proverb that translates to it’s better to have one bird in the hand than ten on the roof. Turning my back on those ten birds to nourish the one in my hand, is the best choice I’ve ever done.
Since then, the continual challenge has been not to heed their desperate bird calls. But the more I fall in love with that little bird in my hand, the less the call beckons.
Ok, let’s get back to 2021.
I’ve learned since we began in 2016 that it all stands and falls on the presentation of the product. Our beanies have always been the same (with very minor adjustments), but our presentation has gotten better over time — and with it the reach of audience has grown.
That brings me back to that photo in the header.
I first heard of Kevin through a friend of a friend. It came to my ear that some guy in America (who happened to have a Norwegian heritage), loved what we were doing, and wanted to exchange product for photos.
So I sent him a beanie or two.
What I got back would actually change the course of Red Hat Factory. This was at the very tail end of 2020.
It is the picture we’ve been talking about all the time, and this picture marked the first time we got a Facebook ad to actually sell to you guys. We (both me, and you reading this) probably agree we have great beanies. But as I said, it comes down to the presentation. And on Facebook you have a split second to make that impression.
So long story short, we are working with Kevin all the time now. He now works with us, and crafts about 80% of all our content. He is just a swell guy, and the Norwegian heritage of this American fellow makes him an even more fitting member of the crew.
Do yourself a favor, get to know this man if you ever have a chance.
“So we decided to just become the best hand knit wool beanie provider the internet has ever met.”
If the first stage of focus was Red Hat Factory. The second stage was honing in on beanies only. 2021’s mantra soon became, “if it’s not beanies, I don’t care.”
In 2020 we introduced wool socks and sweaters. Guess how many pairs of wool socks we sold… One pair (let me know if it’s you that have them). And wool sweaters? Zero.
With my newfound time to pour into Red Hat Factory, I had time to think things through, and look at analytics to find out where you guys actually connect with us. And I realized a couple of things.
You that find us on Google mostly care about beanies (and many of you love Steve Zissou and/or Jacques Cousteau, which is why our paths collide).
So we decided to just become the best hand knit wool beanie provider the internet has ever met, then we can consider other endeavors after that.
In the summer time of 2021, the snowball had been rolling for a while, picking up speed, and we began talking to an old friend of mine about an investment into the company. He runs a business that further ahead in the tracks than ours, and I have often gone to him for brand building advice.
The conversations stretched out, and it took quite an unexpected turn. By the end of 2021 my old friend became a partner in Red Hat Factory — and he brings a lot of goods to the table: Experience, feedback, and most of all the sense of strength that is only found in companionship.
We’re growing, and it’s a lot of fun to have y’all along for the ride.
It was together with him that I made the final decision — to hide away the socks and sweaters for later, and have one single focus — beanies, beanies, beanies.
So what have we actually done in 2021? It’s simple.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. Main thing being that focus is a key to combat stress.
If I can manage to let a good idea go, I am set for success. We all have our cruxes to get to the next level —this one turned out to be mine. If I can’t do it properly, I’m not doing it. And if anything steals focus from presenting those beanies in the best possible way, I’m scrapping it.
“If I can manage to let a good idea go, I am set for success.”
Hopefully you notice that this article is more worked out than earlier ones. And this is due to one thing: Focus.
Man lærer så lenge man lever. That’s a Norwegian proverb, and it simply means you learn as long as you live. There is no “reaching the top,” so why stress to get there. I’d rather do a few things well, than spread all my energy like butter scraped over too much bread.
And if Bilbo (the hobbit behind that butter-allegory) would pick a beanie, I pray he’d pick a Red Hat Factory one.
Yeah. That’s a good focus going forward.
“The eastern face is rotten. It falls apart beneath your fingers.”
I was listening to an experienced mountain climber as he dreamed about about an old rugged mountain he had conquered near the western coast of Norway.
“The other side of the mountain however,” he continued with stars in his eyes. “It’s west-facing, you know. One kilometer of straight climbing, and not one rotten section.”
Instantly my mind wandered to the western fjord-ridden coast line of Norway. And I saw the dark storms; the hurricane gales bringing along a whipping sea spray, scouring clean the western cliff faces, until climbing conditions become pristine.
I might be completely wrong about why the west face is scoured clean — but about the gales roaring, and the sea rising to beat against mountain sides, I am not.
I have been in the midst of hurricane gales, braved dizzying heights, and stared out over inaccessible, bare cliff faces. And it was in this landscape the Westcoaster was conceived of.
The West Coast entails so much when one speaks of Norway. We’re a long, narrow country, and the coastline runs all the way from deep in the eastern Oslo fjord, around the southern tip of Norway (where I grew up) and continues all the way to the northern tip, and even beyond, wedging down south against the Russian border.
Once we Southlanders travel west, and round the south-western bend, the weather becomes wilder. The mountains steeper. The road starts needing ferries, bridges and unbelievably long tunnels to connect. And the further north you go, the more dreamlike it becomes.
I have not spent half the time I want in the fjords of western Norway, or on Lofoten, the northern protruding island cluster, famous among Norway travelers, but any chance to go there, I take.
So when my mom and I started developing a new beanie model, I looked for an opportunity to travel out there again to go and tell the story. And what a story it became!
We tell each other stories to enrich each others’ lives. When it came to bringing the Westcoaster to the public, I wanted it to come along with a story of Norwegian heritage. Or rather, I first and foremost want to tell a story of my Norwegian heritage, and the beanie is there as a tangible touch point between you and our tale.
A thick beanie to face the wild winds of the West, was the concept we came up with. And we crafted our first winter beanie — inspired by the wild weather of the Norwegian West Coast.
And here came my excuse to venture out once again. We needed a video to present the project, and I instantly knew where to go.
The iconic Pulpit Rock. On normal days, it’s full of like minded adventurers, but since we were travelling in the thick of winter, we hoped we would be alone. It turned out our wishes would come more than true, but more about that later.
From we started Red Hat Factory, we knew we needed a brand that was as hand crafted as the beanies we knit. I want every picture, every graphic to be original content. So of course, we use my actual genuine mom for the knitting shots.
Filmed in my parent’s house, with my mom knitting a Westcoaster, this was a project for the history books.
Me and my good friend Ethan travelled from Stockholm, Sweden where we live, a ten-ish hour road trip to my childhood home on the Norwegian South Coast. We rested for a while, prepared a studio (moving furniture, decoration and lights around, getting it all right for the shots.) Then a day later the videographer arrived from Sweden as well.
We filmed all evening, trying to keep track of all the necessary shots, get the lightning right, nieces, nephews, children running around. (My mom suddenly wanting to go on an errand, and we having to deflect her.)
It was a wild ride, but it was just the beginning.
6AM the day after, we had uncovered our cars from the heavy snow fall of the night, and we travelled the nearly 5 hours to the foot of the Pulpit Rock hike. Daylight wastes quickly in a Norwegian December, so I was a bit stressed to capture the good light before it set.
When we arrived at the parking lot (conspicuously empty) we were first met by a woman coming out of a booth and looking us up and down. “There is a man,” she said, “that walks up to the Rock every day. He says the winds are particularly violent today, and he wouldn’t recommend anyone going up. And absolutely not going out on the Rock!“
She looked us over again.
“At least you’re well dressed. If you go, at least rent some spikes.”
A few moments later, four guys (me, Ethan, videographer Simon and his cousin Emanuel) ventured up into the mountains dressed in four pairs of brutal looking ice spikes.
The hike is first on the lee side of the mountains. It wasn’t until we were near the top that the wind picked up. When we crossed the threshold of the storm, a grin spread across my face, as the wind violently whipped icy grains into my face.
The Norwegian was back in his element.
Before you go out to the Pulpit Rock plateau itself, there is one single place where you have to go past a narrow ledge. On one side a 600 meter drop, on the other a straight wall that you cant go around or up.
And this is the one spot that still haunts my dreams after this trip.
The gusts reached what we later learned were actually near hurricane speeds. And we were literally pushed around out there. But I had seen a gorgeous light on the other side of the Pulpit Rock plateau, and I wanted desperately to get out there and see.
So we moved out past the narrow point, crawled our way out and lingered.
I looked at the edge. And everything within me wanted to get out on the rock and just stare into that enticing light. There was something about the unreachability of it. The exclusiveness of the mighty mountain in a storm.
But right before I went for it, I was called back by my friends. And the chilling words that brought me back still gives me a shiver.
“If the wind picks up more than this, we’ll be stuck here.”
I knew it to be true, so we began fighting our way back. And all the while we shot footage here and there. The golden light lay over the fjord on the other side. The wild winds of the Norwegian West Coast truly blew — more than we could have asked for, and though none of our plans came to fruition, I think the film followed the script even better than planned.
And that final moment when I had to watch the others wait for the gusts of wind to die down, and leap past the narrow point — that is what still haunts me. It’s just too easy to imagine a hurricane gust pounding into my friends just at the right time, and down they go.
But we are all still here.
That same night, Simon and Emanuel drove all the way back to Sweden, spending 13 hours in the car tag teaming behind the wheel, and me and Ethan drove our 5 hours back to my parents.
We were spent! And I can’t imagine how the Swedes felt.
The following day we rested a bit and cleaned up the studio. Then we travelled back to Sweden. And the day after that, we all (me, Ethan, and my wife) played our instruments at a Christmas charity concert.
The only reason we managed the trip was due to meticulous planning. But no matter how much one plans — one can’t tame the mountains. And my biggest memory from this trip is the feeling of exclusivity. We fought our way up in hurricane winds, where no one else went. And we were alone, above the golden light of the fjord, knowing we were at a place and time that will never be experienced again.
And the respect for the might of nature, and how small we are when the winds pick up in exposed places, is now ingrained in my Norwegian soul, deeper than ever.
When we first began to shape the language around Red Hat Factory, there was one word in particular that became a struggle — and it’s right there in our name.
A car is a car, a shovel a shovel, but a beanie…
It can be a beanie, a toque, a hat, a regular cap, a watch cap, a knit cap (all kinds of cap really). Some have told me “beanie” sounds cheap, but then “hat,” to me, just sounds like a brimmed hat a la Indiana Jones.
So what were we to choose? I went back and forth many times, changing wording on our website, until I finally did the rational thing. I checked what shows up in search results for the different words, and went with the one that fits best our product. “Beanie” is now our main word, but with the occasional “hat” or “knit cap” to spice things up.
I love to look into the meaning of words every now and then. I am writing a fantasy novel on the side, and the quest to find the most precise word for the situation, is something I often indulge in.
So where does the word “beanie” come from?
Short answer: Nobody knows. But that doesn’t stop language professors from speculating. And speculating is fun.
Oxford English Dictionary says it probably comes from bean as a slang term for head. Pulling out the good old Occam’s razor, we should maybe surmise that this is where our search ends. (Though in truth, it ended at “Nobody knows.”)
“The fact that the slang term bean was used for head as early as 1905, is fascinating to me.”
There are other theories, but let’s ignore them. The fact that the slang term bean was used for head as early as 1905, is fascinating to me. I might have read too much Lord of the Rings, but I always had the sense that in the early 1900’s nobody used slang, and everybody were well versed in proper use of grammar and walked around in suits, checking their little pocket watches at every street crossing, while the camera dramatically pans in at their shocked faces when they realise they’re late.
Well, we all have different kind of assumptions about history, and it’s healthy to poke holes in them every now and then.
The terms was originally a baseball term. A bean-ball was a pitch thrown at the batter’s head. From there we see it used more generally as in Bill the Conqueror, a novel (that I have absolutely not read or ever heard about) from 1924: “Have I got to clump you one on the side of the bean?”
So it makes total sense that a beanie would be the little thing your put on your bean.
Going to our second most used word for our head-apparel, I assumed we would be brought much further back in history. And in fact, we were brought so far back that the trail vaporises into the mist of history.
“From hat to hæt to hattuz, all the way to Proto-Indo-European root kad.“
From hat to hæt to hattuz, all the way to Proto-Indo-European root kad. And that root word might, in my opinion, have the best, simplest and clearest meaning to what a hat is: “To guard, cover, care for, protect.”
So if you’re one of those non-existant people who insists on calling their bike-helmet a bike-hat. Well, you won! Enjoy it.
Going into this one I was curious. From interacting with Red Hatters across the globe, I’ve understood that the Canadians use this term. Canada has French parts, and toque sounds very French.
“It turns out I was right (pat-pat).”
It turns out I was right (pat-pat). The etymology of the word is simply “from French with unknown origin.” So that’s boring.
But don’t despair. There is fun to be had here too. I learned that in all parts of the world except Canada, the usage of toque refers to a cook’s hat. If you google “toque,” a lot of beanies with Canadian flags show up.
Given this, you understand why we refrain from using the word toque overly much.
My favorite term to use for our beanies is the most precise one: Knit cap. Since our beanies are actually hand knit, this suits us exceptionally well. The common terms watch cap and knit cap both have one thing in common: Cap.
Cap is also, like hat, a very base word.
We can trace the roots of this word through Old English cæppe to Latin cappa, through some uncertain paths that lead us all the way back to Proto-Indo-European kaput — which means head.
Funny in and of itself that kaput means head. So if you say, “is your bean kaput?” you’re literally saying is your head head?
Anyway. Don’t go around saying that to each other.
Hope you enjoyed nerding out with me.
Normally I wouldn’t go straight up and call our giveaway the best there is, but this time, it’s not only us.
This giveaway has ended.
Together with a bunch of brands thsat we love, and that we think you’ll love too, we put together the Norwegian West Coast Explorer Giveaway.
Run time: 1st of December 2021, to 1st of January 2022.
Legendary Swedish family brand Sarva. Careful crafter of clothing locally made in Sweden. The name Sarva comes from the indigenous Sámi language.
WESN is our partner in hosting this giveaway, and we got to pick our most rugged, classic favorite — the Henry. A knife inspired by WESN’s own Swedish grandpa.
Sleek is the first word that comes to mind with VSSL. Beyond the clean lines and absolute minimalism, there is a very human core and an obvious obsession with product design. It shows.
VSSL have a sweet origin story to share with the world.
Shaped by a farm-life upbringing, Amos and his crew at Grease Point Workwear create by the mantra of beautiful, functional, and enduring.
Read their story in their own words here.
This entire giveaway is hosted by us as a part of the release of our new beanie model, the Westcoaster — inspired by the fjord-ridden Norwegian West Coast. That is why the giveaway is entitled: The Norwegian West Coast Fjord Explorer.
Dedicated to the wholesome task of providing the world with goodness, Misc. Goods Co produce good goods. Simple and clean.
Misc. Goods Co.’s origin story, is a great read!
Hikers Brew is exactly what it sounds like — coffee, roasted, packaged and branded with the hiker in mind… Or in this case, The Norwegian Fjord Explorer.
Criticism, what is that? How about a bout of pure fanboyage? If you’d like that, you’ve come to the right place. And if you don’t like it, what can you do about it? The wheel weaves as the wheel wills.
Update: After watching past episode 4, my fanboyage has unfortunately dropped to a meh level at best. The only reason I don’t go to outright criticism is because this is no review blog, and I probably won’t revisit this. The books are amazing, read the books!
Wheel of Time… There are only two book series in my life that cuts that deep — and if you’ve followed us for any time you know which one the other is. (A hint — it also involves a wheel, inside of a mind that also contains metal.)
Anyhow, we went to the premiering of the two first episodes of the Wheel of Time at Stockholm Film Festival, and saw the thing in its full cinema glory. And it far exceeded every expectation me and my wife had conjured up.
First of all, we came with the rather tempered expectation that it is an adaptation. You don’t grieve over the plot lines that are lost, you praise those they nail, in understanding that they can’t film it chapter by chapter (though some of us would have consumed every bit of that).
Casting — optimal.
Two rivers culture and architecture — whoa!
The attack on Two Rivers — it was shockingly emotionally impactful. Maybe because I was pretty tired and also in an epic movie theater being physically blasted by every sound, but hey.
Foreshadowing aimed at book readers only — yes! Give me more. More wolves. More Perrin and axes and smithies.
Yes, Perrin is my favorite guy. And that brings me straight to the “criticism”.
I won’t spoil anything, but there is this thing you’ll definitely notice with Perrin and his… altered relationships. It was the first thing that passed through my shield of positivity and caused a skeptical wrinkle on my nose. (My wife felt the same). But then I said to myself, hey let’s see why they did that change. (My wife unbeknownst to me did the same). Once the episode was over, I understood why they did it, and I applaud it as an immensely impactful way of setting up Perrins big future tool/weapon dilemma and character growth arcs.
Seeing that my wife came to the exact same conclusion, and went through every step that I did while watching, I can only conclude that these folks know what they’re doing, and they have won my trust for the future of the season.
But I’ll always keep the book in a separate category, and the series on it’s firm “adaptation shelf” — it’s the only way to not criticizes every change.
I hear you, loud and clear. Now, let me weave the threads of the pattern together for you. I have plenty of justification for allowing Wheel of Time into RHF Stories.
In the Two Rivers where our main characters are from, there is something called Two Rivers woolens. The place is known for frequent wearing of wool apparel. And that in itself should be enough — wool is after all our bread and butter. But there is so much more.
There is something about the Fantasy genre that caters directly to people like us. The sense of adventure, the esthetic of old rugged sturdy village craftsmanship. In the Two Rivers you’ll find thatchers, cobblers, smiths and knitters — all crafts that Red Hat Factory loves to celebrate.
And then the simple act of reading a book series of 14 books — it takes patience. The same virtue required to craft something with excellence and keep doing it.
It’s easy to make the connection why we love the Wheel of Time, and my final words would simply be — get an Amazon Prime account and give it a try. Then you might just find yourself being drawn into the longest written adventure tale you’ve ever consumed. 4,410 036 words over the course of 14 books plus a prequel.
Since childhood, I’ve seen the pom-pom as a completely natural addition to any winter beanie. Now that I’ve been delving into the history of beanies and their making for years, I’ve begun questioning the seemingly useless, dangling ball of thread.
When researching the history of the pom-pom, a wide variety of sources pop up. Historically armies have worn them into battle. To what end? Scaring their enemies? “Hey, yeah, I thought we’d put this ball of thread on top of our attire. It will rattle the bones of our enemies.”
A pom-pom has been used to denote all kinds of rank, including marital status. The latter reminds me of a weird concept the Norwegian Tourist Union came up with, where people were supposed to state their “dating availability” by the color of their beanie. Red: Taken. Green… Yeah, you get it. Traffic lights and all.
At the root of all these sources we find a little statuette claimed to represent the norse god Freyr, and, you guessed it, it’s wearing a pom-pom. Even the gods wear it! And good for us, as a Scandinavian brand, we can claim it for our own.
There’s a nice little article overviewing the use of pom-poms in various historical and cultural contexts by Danil Zhiltsov. One thing that stood out to me was that while talking about the pom-pom on a traditional Scottish hat, Danil says that “they enjoyed their biggest rise in popularity during the Great Depression of the 1930s.”
It makes total sense. Who needs anti-depressants when you can just put a pom-pom on your headgear? And look at it — there’s a pattern here. It’s on the war attire as well. Conclusion: If you head into great darkness, wear a pom-pom to cheer you up.
When we were in the southern Norwegian mountains shooting some photos of our own take on the pom-pom beanie, I noticed some sort of soothing effect. As the ball rolled around on my head a slight massage occurred. Maybe this was the original idea, lost in time.
Now, let’s reel this article back in.
We’ve long drawn inspiration from Life Aquatic and Steve Zissou. One day we looked at this image, and Willem Dafoe’s pom-pom embellished beanie. And we thought to ourselves, maybe this ridiculous dangling embellishment from our childhood could be kinda cool.
So long story short (just kidding, we’ve already made it long), we made a limited run of Southlanders modded with a pom-pom to commemorate our childhood, and also send a nod towards Mr. Dafoe. These beanies might occasionally resurface on Mom’s Market.
I was 12 years old when I first came across a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring in the school library. Rarely has any piece of literature had such an impact on me — and anything that influences me, influences the brand I am heading.
The Tolkien rabbit hole is deep. It might begin with The Hobbit, take you through The Lord of the Rings, maybe even into The Silmarillion, and if you’re lost in the vortex, you might end up passing through 12 volumes of the History of Middle Earth, before you’re done.
Just kidding. You won’t be done yet. There’s always more to discover.
From the moment I saw Alan Lee’s iconic illustration of the gates of Moria — which was the cover art on that Fellowship book I found in the library — I was enticed into this vast universe. The poignant language, the ethos, the characters, the events — it has all deeply impacted me.
You might have noticed both subtle and less subtle references to Tolkien’s works around our page and in our social media. What is it that makes the tales of Middle Earth rhyme so well with Red Hat Factory?
If you spend some time in Middle Earth, you’ll soon notice that Tolkien was a lover of the wild, and rather reluctant to embrace the changes the industrial revolution brought about.
“How I wish the ‘infernal combustion’ engine had never been invented.”J.R.R. Tolkien
Sauron, the ultimate evil of the Third Age and the heart issue and namesake of the Lord of the Rings, is all about industrializing. Bending nature to his will rather than working in harmony with it. Using machines to mow down vast forests to fuel his machines — developing in his followers a mind of metal and wheels.
This subject could turn into a long winded political discussion, but I’m not heading that deep.
The idea is that the Lord of the Rings, through the intent and spirit of the author, conveys a love for the vast untouched wildernesses, as well as the simple undisturbed rural lifestyle of hobbits. It comes from a complex root system of beliefs, as do all convictions. But I’d rather just mention the branches.
The hobbit lifestyle is one of a classic farm life — inspired, if not almost completely modelled on the rural lifestyle of the English countryside, that seemed to slip more and more away though Tolkien’s lifespan.
“I am in fact a Hobbit in all but size. I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food…”J.R.R. Tolkien
There’s a lot to be said about health and how closeness to nature, and physical hard work in symbiosis with the earth seems to be the age old remedy.
Goop published a great article on longevity, and as a wool-peddler I just wanted to point out that among the earth’s longest living human’s, are shepherds. The benefits of wool has no end, it seems.
“Even as Silicon Valley and scientists all over the world try to crack the code for living longer and aging better, the best ways to increase health and extend longevity remain decidedly low-tech.”An article on Goop
A hobbit, therefore, would probably endeavor to enjoy the four hours it takes to knit a Red Hat Factory beanie, while chit chatting with their neighbor. A hobbit would wear handmade, because the infernal combustion engine driven massive knitting machine needed to do it mechanically would scare the life out of them.
Here I am, sitting in front of my very industrialized computer, writing an article on being in touch with nature. What’s the point?
We as brands do put some sort of message out there whether we try to or not — and though we are imperfect, and it will be, or come across as hypocritical at times, I want to advocate a simple lifestyle through our brand. Your life is not made better by following the latest fad — rather by seeking out and understanding timeless truths.
We believe that before trying too hard to keep up with the Kardashians, you need to wind down and be true to yourself. To enjoy what you’re doing — or do what you’re called to, some would say.
That is why we decided to tell the stories of fishermen, leathercrafters, climbers, painters and denim hunters, who all do what they do with great passion.
Up, up, up. Anticipation is building. We’re only one ridge away from what we’re waiting for. Then we crest it, and the fjord spreads out far below us. Dots of summer clouds float above their own mirrored reflections, cast off the perfectly quiet, rich turquoise fjord water. We have arrived at the Pulpit Rock. And this, my first experience of Lysefjorden marked me for life.
I might be biased when claiming it as the most iconic fjord in Norway. Four hours of narrow winding mountain roads away from my parents’ home on the South Coast, this is the fjord closest to home for me. But hear me out.
Many fjords are gorgeous. Many are lush and green. But iconicity is something else. Sharp corners, barren rock, violent heights, make for features that stand out among the green lush forest that ride the lower slopes of the fjords.
From standing almost a kilometer above fjord level on a boulder stuck between two sheer cliff faces, to peering down from a 600m high plateau that protrudes like a triangle from the fjord wall, the Lysefjord offers some of the wildest, harshest vistas of Norwegian nature.
Put the iconicity to the test: Ask any Norwegian what Norwegian natural feature the two following icons represent, and I’m sure they’ll reply pretty quickly — Preikestolen and Kjeragbolten. Yes, those are the Norwegian names of the features.
The word fjord comes from the same root as ford, and originally meant the path you take to get somewhere. While I couldn’t find particular etymology on the place-name Lyse, in modern Norwegian it means light. I’d gladly stand corrected in if you have expertise on the subject.
I have gone the Path of Light five times at the time of writing this article — visited Kjerag twice, and the Pulpit Rock thrice — and through this article I want to bring you along to these locations, one by one. Let’s start with the triangular icon.
Height: 604m / 1,982 ft
Estimated Hiking Time: 2h each way
Difficulty: Pretty chill
If you follow any kind of travelgrams, or watched Mission: Impossible – Fallout, you can’t have missed it. The triangular, gigantic shelf that protrudes out of a straight cliff face plummeting 604m (1,982 ft) straight to fjord level.
“Every single time I go there I dream of falling the night after.”
Hiking up the north side of the west-to-east cutting fjord, the two-hour hike is a steady ascent until the fjord finally reveals itself. After staring into the alluring unattainable vista of the fjord, you round a corner and enter the plateau from the side (this is the most common route). The most daring of might want to stand on the edge, feeling that close brush with death, or dangle our feet as we sit down, death at a comfortable thigh’s length.
Like our good, fearless friend Keely in 2019.
If you want more pictures of the place, we put together a collection of Unsplash photos from Preikestolen.
The urban legend that belongs to the Rock, is the following: A gang of people grilling sausages near the plateau (very Norwegian thing to do on hikes). One sausage gets burned. They throw it over the edge. Their dog, too focused on sausage to think, follows it over the edge. Hopefully it’s all just an urban legend. I can hear the slowly fading howl in my mind, and it terrifies me.
The question of death toll often comes up when talking about a ledge-free 600m plateau that carries a jaw-dropping 300,000 tourists a year (roughly speaking — get exact facts somewhere else.) But despite this, there is only one recorded accident leading to death — not counting known suicides.
When you are at such heights, a primal fear awakens that you cannot experience by watching videos or photos.
Every single time I’ve gone, I dream of falling the night after. Or in the moments before I fall asleep I see myself leaning too far out and loosing my balance. When you are at such heights, a primal fear awakens (at least in most of us) that you cannot experience by watching videos or photos. You have to go there — and that’s the charm of it. All sense of adventure was not lost with the advent of social media. Being there IRL is something entirely else.
Height: 984m / 3,228 ft
Estimated Hiking Time: 2,5h each way
Difficulty: Very hard in the beginning, very chill on top
I still have strong memories from this trip. Getting up at four in the morning. Driving across winding mountain roads in one fell five hour swoop, then descending a bit to the starting point of the Kjerag hike. The music we listened to on that trip still awakens my wanderlust, the memory of driving below cliffs unfathomable and slinking down roads unknown, still makes me want to go and be overwhelmed again. To be lost in the grandeur of nature.
And also, while stuck in a passing herd, a cow licked the mirror of our car on one of these trips — oh, the sweet memories.
“First time I went there, my dad put one foot on the rock, then, quivering with fear refused for us to get out on it.”
This first time we hiked the Kjerag Bolt, we almost couldn’t find it. It was getting late in both the season and the day, and there were incredibly few people up in the mountains. And the bolt itself is not a protruding feature — quite the opposite.
Tucked in a crack 984m (3,228 ft) above the Lysefjord, it leaves you with a relatively small chunk of rock between you and the abyss. First time I went there, my dad put one foot on the rock, then, quivering with fear refused for us to get out on it.
Many years later (2020), me and my wife went there alone, and we had to do it. To step out on it yourself is one thing — to see the most precious person in your life do 964m high airtime between the cliff and the rock, is pure horror. But we survived. Even worse, the narrow rock ledge you have to step to get out there, is worn slick by all the adventurers that step onto the bolt year after year.
While the Kjerag Bolt hosts a lot less tourists than the Pulpit Rock — about 70,000/y — one might expect the death toll to be higher, given the narrow ledge one has to traverse to get out. But, first of all, I don’t believe 70k people actually step onto the rock. Secondly, if you do, you are immensely careful. Something that is proven by the clean round number of zero. Zero deaths from this rock.
While the Pulpit Rock is way more impressive than the hike there, the same is not true for Kjerag. Instead of coming in from the north, the Kjerag hike goes parallel to the fjord. It is an awe inspiring stroll on top of the world.
When you finally approach the Kjerag area, you must make sure to enter the rim of Nesatinden. From there you see the three iconic steps of the Kjerag Plateau, and a gorgeous open vista of the fjord. I saw BASE jumpers leap from the plateau both times I was there, so based on my experience there is a 2/2 chance you might see someone throw themselves off the cliffs like madmen.
Ever since that fateful drive across the mountains in ’05 — the one that cemented the mountains so deeply into my psyche that they can’t be uprooted — I’ve loved this road. It is a beautiful stretch of road, that goes from Setesdalen, east of the Lysefjord, directly westward across the mountains. It is narrow, winding, high, and best of all, full of free roaming sheep.
When the winter-closed Suleskard-road open, early each spring, there are these massive residues of snow left from the plows. And all over the mountains, there are patches of snow that stay all summer through. It’s a very eerie feeling, when for the first time, as a Norwegian child, you can have a snowball fight in July.
From where my parents live on the South Coast, this is the best road to take. One could take the coastal highway around, but understand this: There is a highway, and then there is a high way. We always choose the highest one. In 2019, when we drove the 41 km from Brokke to Suleskard, with our friends, we managed to get a few high altitude shots that I believe captures the experience quite well.
Walking on the top of the fjords, wind blowing unchallenged across the barren rock makes you feel alive. Photos can’t capture it, words can’t describe it. Make sure you don’t use this blogpost as a mere painkiller against your wanderlust. The lust is there to drive you outdoors so you can feel the burn in your muscles as you scale these mountains yourself.
If you have any questions or additions to this article, feel free to leave a comment, and we’ll answer to the best of our ability.
You can do whatever you want, of course — but that’s not why you asked the question. Here is my full argument on why the beanie belongs in your back pocket all summer long.
When I wore my thick red cotton beanie under the midday sun in Tanzania in 2016, I knew I was being stubborn (but I can do what I want, right?) But even in the heat of Africa, there were times when the beanie came in handy.
Late summer nights. Cloudy summer days. Early mornings before the sun has risen. There will always be times when the temperature drops — and if your beanie is in your back pocket, you’ll be ready.
As a Norwegian, I would know. Let me tell you about Norwegian summer weather…
For some reason we tend to think of summer as this static 30℃/90°F cloudless state of being. But depending on where you live or how high you hike, summer temperatures fluctuate wildly.
In Norway the weather shifts quickly, and we’re raised to be prepared for anything. That’s probably why even on a hot summer day, I throw my beanie in the backpack before I go hiking.
A great summer involves midnight swims, cool evening strolls, scaling windy mountains where a sudden drizzle of rain can take you unawares. It is not all about laying in the sweltering sun working on your tan. I would not recommend a beanie in the latter situation.
When you reach certain heights, the winds are changing quicker, and thus, the pocket heat regulator has to come out…
So much of your body heat escapes through the head. There is a reason why a beanie is also called a cap. You’re the thermos, the beanie is the cap. Whenever your beverage get’s cold, screw the cap on to preserve the heat.
Here at Red Hat Factory, we swear to wool as the one and only beanie material. If a rain catches you in the mountains, wool is superior at preserving heat while getting wet.
We all know this whole article is about finding an excuse, because we simply love wearing beanies! And I hope I’ve provided plenty, so the beanie never has to stay home on a hot summer day ever again.
When I first stumbled upon Brent Underwood and his revitalization project at Cerro Gordo Mines, I quickly realized I wasn’t the only one who was drawn to this adventurer and his vlogs on the YouTube channel Ghost Town Living.
The weekly videos have become something I look forward to, and watch with glee — my 1,5 year old son in my lap, equally interested (at least for the first 5 minutes.)
Both as someone heading a brand that shares many of the same values, a basic human being, and a thinker, I find myself pondering again and again what it is that makes Brent and his abandoned ghost town so enticing.
Old things have a charm that can’t be reproduced. Time is the most valuable asset of all time. When you see wooden buildings carry over a 100 years of patina from wind, rain, storms and stray bullets — you know none of that can be reproduced any time soon.
“Time is the most valuable asset of all time.”
Well… in one way it can, but as soon as you discover it’s fake, the charm is broken.
Wrinkles are a mark of honor in my opinion. Whether it’s creases in our wooden floors from the patter of generations of feet, or whether it’s age and wisdom showing on our faces.
My parent’s house has a scar. Once when I was pretty young, I fell down the staircase, and smashed through the railing. One of the spindles broke, and though it’s now more than 20 years ago, it hasn’t been replaced. I don’t know why, but every time I see it I remember, not only the fall, but the good times of my childhood, and all the fun we’ve had climbing back and forth through the gap in the railing.
Wrinkles add history. And to see somebody care for and restore old and wrinkled buildings is immensely satisfying. Now, it will last, instead of time grinding it to desert dust.
Cerro Gordo has the wrinkles, and Brent Underwood knows how to appreciate them, with a contagious passion.
When Brent began broadcasting from Cerro Gordo, he pulled some epic monologues about longevity that hit home with me. Chatting about how startup business culture, often have become about how quickly you can grow your idea to a full fledged company, and sell it.
The idea of putting your heart into something so that you can sell it off to pursue your actual goals, have never rhymed much with me. There is something about the discrepancy between where you put your daily hours, and where you want to be that makes me sad. I want to build something that I’ll enjoy being a part of until the end.
“There is something about the discrepancy between where you put your daily hours, and where you want to be that makes me sad.”
To see something age, you have to own it. Whether that be your family, relationships, your craft, your company. Brent Underwood said that he’s not in it for the short term — he will probably spend his life at Cerro Gordo. And that kind of commitment wins my attention.
(P.S. Should you want to back out earlier, Brent, that’s ok too.)
I was both lucky and unlucky to experience the loss of a loved one very early in life. Death became a close acquaintance early on — one whom has been peeking over my shoulders almost every day since.
You who have experienced something similar knows that encountering death changes everything.
Memento mori, is an old latin phrase meaning remember your death. It’s about counting your days, so to speak, and spurring yourself to spend them well. What that means might be completely different from person to person, but it’s always worth talking about.
Growing up with that experience in the back pocket — or rather at the core of my being — I’ve often viewed the western culture I grew up in as shying away from death, rather than encouraging counting it into your plans.
Whether you believe in a life after or not, the idea that you have a finite time to make an impact, is only healthy, and might make you take some choices you wouldn’t normally take.
For Brent Underwood to be so frank as to speak out about this, he has my respect again, and it makes the videos feel like they have substance.
I don’t completely understand the psychology behind this, but there is an immense satisfaction in going back to the same location again and again, and slowly expand your knowledge of one area.
It’s like getting to know a person. First you learn their name and profession, but it’s not until you know their hopes and dreams, fears and history that you truly love them.
I guess I am the type that like to dig deep instead of broad sweeps. My favorite vacation location is Norway, my own country. There are untold secrets hidden in those mountains, and each trip just makes me feel like I could explore so much more. So I find myself back, again and again, driving old roads over, but expanding slowly into new branches.
Watching Brent go into every nook and cranny of Cerro Gordo overground, and also map out each of the myriad of mine shafts gives me a sense of peace. It’s as if I trick myself into feeling like I have a grasp over something in life.
Some think that perfectionism is when you like things “perfect.” That’s only the kind brother of actual perfectionism. The ailment with the same name, is when you have your eye on a flawless unattainable fantasy, and nothing is ever good enough for you.
“All of us can sort of see ourselves in Brent’s shoes, as he leaves the city to pursue a dream that he has little knowledge of how to attain.”
This is something that infests social media and the internet as a whole. And when we find respite from that — an experience of real humanity among all the edited perfection — it makes us feel right at home. All of us can sort of see ourselves in Brent’s shoes, as he leaves the city to pursue a dream that he has little knowledge of how to attain (his words, not mine.)
And then we’re able to peek in on the journey as he solves problems. After I’ve watched one of his videos I’m ready to go solve some problems of my own.
I think ultimately, it’s this transparent humanity that makes the channel so satisfying to watch, and will be the thing that I will strive for in my own life.
Things will always be in motion and under construction. “Complete” doesn’t exist, so we might as well learn to enjoy the journey as we each try to polish the little piece of the world that is given into our care — our family, our friends, our colleagues, our crafts and belongings.
Now, what makes you love Brent and the Cerro Gordo project?
Minimalism is the art of shedding excess.
Well. I’m not going to stay in the minimal typographical mode through this article. I am not a true minimalist. But I believe I can learn something from almost any lifestyle. When it comes to minimalism, there are a few things I as a midimalist want to emulate.
His garage is a wonderland.
When I, as a child, went there with him, there was no telling what I’d find. Below a stack of shoes from 1978, there would be a pair of beautiful old ice skates from the dawn of time — and I looked on them in wonder, wondering at how fast my dad could make those bad boys skid.
Likewise when I found a pair of jumping skis, I imagined his younger years when he flew almost a 100m through the air strapped to a pair of primitive planks.
Building a play cabin behind the garage was a dream, since old planks from old garages and sheds were stacked high in memory of former times, and I was free to use all of it.
I learnt that hoarding is wondrous — it’s an adventure.
Moving to an apartment, I went through a severe rebellion against the hoarding of my youth. When I was a child I had saved all my old toothbrushes for a while, because they had nice pictures of Disney characters on them. I cried when my mom told me to throw them away.
Hey! I was really young — don’t judge me. I was only 17.
Just kidding. (Or am I?)
Anyway. Enough tears shed over Unca Scrooge, printed on my beautiful orange toothbrush, hopefully not decaying along with all the worlds plastic in the middle of the pacific somewhere.
“Enough tears shed over Unca Scrooge, printed on my beautiful orange toothbrush, hopefully not decaying along with all the worlds plastic in the middle of the pacific somewhere.”
Moving around several times as a newcomer in Stockholm, Sweden, I quickly realized I don’t want much stuff. Stuff is something you have to carry. Deadweight. A liability. In extreme response to my upbringing, I wanted to throw away everything.
*insert maniacal gif here*
My wife however, as so often, helped me realize that we need some stuff. So now I have finally turned into a Midimalism. Neither a minimalist or a maximalist, but somewhere in the boring, gray, middle.
I don’t mind.
I watched a documentary on minimalism — in fact, it spurred this article. They put it so nicely, explaining that minimalism is most of all about appreciating everything you own.
If you don’t either need it, or deeply want it, don’t buy it. Get rid of the urge to just buy for the sake of buying.
This is something I’ve taken to heart. I find much more pleasure in, rather than buying a book series, buying one book. Then when I finish it, I reward myself with buying the next installment.
This way I enjoy my current book way more, and buying the next one becomes a reward that cost me something.
It is about focusing more on enjoying what you have than all the time looking for the next thing. And I think we all can agree that it’s a sad feature of human nature that we tend to look outside of our own four walls for the next kick, instead of celebrating what we have.
I am convinced (and it’s my experience) that the times we practice more gratefulness, for our family, our belongings, our friends, we are so much better off. And therefore it’s something I try, though flawed, to pursue.
Sorry, meme culture destroyed that heading.
If you’d ask my grandmother what has changed with the world during her almost 100 years — and if she was eloquent in English — she would probably talk about instant gratification.
More than ever, thanks to the industrial revolution, so many of us can have whatever the heck we want.
My grandmother has the same handcrafted table and chairs she’s had since she was newly married. They knew the one who made it (before buying local was a trend) and it cost them a lot. It is still in tip top shape. I admire that a lot — the gratefulness and care she, and much of her generation has for everything she owns.
That is why me and my wife love heritage objects. A set of plates from my grandma (once again, in tip top shape) from right after WWII, and it was handed to us with a story including the Rat Catchers and their hunting in the forest during the war to provide for their families (in risk of being caught and mistaken for part of the resistance movement), drama and resentment, kindness and willingness to give.
Our wedding rings that has been worn three generations ago and then refitted to us, is to us way more valuable than any new ring would be, because of the tie to our history that it provides.
I firmly believe in the concept of rather having one nice thing that I really appreciate and care for, than 100 that are meh. Things that have a history, or else that are made with such craftsmanship that they can be passed from us down into future generations.
When we designed the first model of our line, there was never a question around our chosen material. Wool was the one and true answer. Curly sheep hair is inseparable from Norwegian culture and the roots of the brand — but how, and why has it become so?
Norwegian children wear wool. It’s a thing. Parents buy it, sell it, hand knit it, and promote it. There’s nothing like a mom-made wool sweater, or even a pair of cold-resistant inner wool-trousers to get you through the -20℃ winters.
It is ingrained in Norwegian culture to such a degree that I never questioned its benefits before I was about a year into running Red Hat Factory. One day I realized that as a wool-peddler I should probably know a bit more about the specifics of why it’s considered so great.
I’ve heard it said time and time again, from the age when my mother forced my child-legs into a pair of light blue hand-knit wool trousers and sent me out playing in the snow.
Those pants itched like crazy — an issue longe since solved, more about that in the next section — but they sure kept me warm.
A practical, and maybe slightly nasty example from adult life, is this. When I’ve been having a fever, and woken up shivering in a cold pool of my own sweat, a standard set of a thin woolen long sleeved shirt + woolen long johns solves the issue. I can sleep through the night, and wake up in a nice temperate pool of my own sweat instead.
Yeah, I told you it was nasty. But that’s life for you.
So, why does wool stay warm even when wet?
You can get into a deep wormhole when researching this, but put super simply, wool is a complex structure, designed to keep sheep at an even temperature in a wide range of weather conditions. Without even touching on the science I don’t understand, it seems wool absorbs your sweat into itself, leading it away from your body, and then allows it to vaporize at a leisure inside of the wool, not touching your skin.
On the flip side, wool is also relatively water resistant from the outside. How does that work? Don’t ask me. Ask Google.
“I basically live inside a set of wool shirt and long johns the entire winter, and could not imagine anything that feels more natural.”
As you understand, I haven’t the faintest grasp on the inner workings of this, but I have a lifetime of experience enjoying the benefits. I basically live inside a set of wool shirt and long johns the entire winter, and could not imagine anything that feels more natural. And, as it turns out, from this picture my mom pulled out of the album — I have done so all my life.
One of our friends and Red Hat Factory beanie-owners said something akin to “I basically live inside of this beanie. It’s the first wool beanie I’ve had that doesn’t itch.”
The thick Norwegian wool I was wearing when I grew up was itchy — and that was the talk of the town among us children. “Hey, ma is forcing me into these itchy woolly hell-pants again.” But those days are long gone.
“Hey, ma is forcing me into these itchy woolly hell-pants again.”
Where does the itch come from, and how has humanity combated this great evil?
The thickness of wool grains is measured in microns (1‰ of a mm), and the infamous itchiness threshold is at 27 micron. While Norwegian sheep naturally produce a rougher grain, to withstand the wild mountain weather, there are ways to grind the wool to a finer grain size — so even Norwegian wool doesn’t have to itch anymore.
Another way to go, is to use wool from more temperate climates. We use wool from South America, where the climate naturally softens up he wool on the sheep, and it is below the itchiness treshold all-by-its-natural.
That was the headline of every single day of my life, living inside a full wool attire.
If you’ve used wool a lot, you’ve probably either heard or noticed that you don’t have to wash it that much. A bit of Googling shows that it consistency nails the top scores on low-odor tests. Many venture as far as to name it anti-bacterial.
We’ve already established, I am not a scientific genius, so I won’t venture into any advanced vocabulary, but fall back on my experience. The wool sweaters I wear on the outside, I rarely wash at all, and they never smell. The inner layer of wool — the long johns and long sleeve wool shirt — I wash more, but still much more seldom than other fabrics, and yes it’s absolutely true, they take a longer time to gain stinkage.
So, why does wool smell less?
Lanolin, also called wool grease, -wax, -oil, or -fat, is a grease that sheep produce, and that is mixed into the wool. The grease apparently protects the sheep from infections, and is used in a lot of skin creams and such. Sounds pretty rad to me, and makes me think wool just straight off kills bacteria — but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“And there, deep inside of the wool, the bacteria are kept safely away from each other, so they can’t make more smelly bac-babies.”
One article I read said it’s not that lanolin actually kills bacteria, but the odor-killing abilities of wool actually come from the way it transports sweat away from your body, including all the nasty things that inhabit the sweat. And there, deep inside of the wool, the bacteria are kept safely away from each other and your skin, so they can’t make more smelly bac-babies.
So maybe, you should wash your wool occasionally — but not that often.
A rather low quality picture got my imagination going. Beanies haphazardly dropped on the floor in a variety of wornness and mismatching colors.
The reason it got me thinking was the history it represents.
The red beanie tucked away in the bottom center, represents the beginnings. It is the third Southlander ever knit, some time in 2016, when we launched our first product. Back then, we called it “The Rounded.” You can read more of our genesis story here.
The black and gray ones represent our first leap from purely red beanies. We are Red Hat Factory, and stayed purely red for about two years, just in order to cement our identity working towards “the best red explorer cap ever knit.” Also at this point we made sure to point out that the gray and black ones are also red, only with lower saturation and various amounts of light.
Chronologically, the Limited Editions were the ones that broke us into a color range. Since they’re only hidden away on Facebook/Instagram, and 100% of our sales are on our website, some of them are actually still available, years after. I’ll get them up on the website eventually…
EDIT: There are no more of these Limited Editions left.
Sigh. There’s so much else I want to do as well.
After that we opened up to the idea of more colors, something we will definitely continue as we’re moving forward. Already I can slip a little secret. We’re soon launching our first orange beanie, aimed at American hunters who are required to wear orange on the job.
The gold and olive beanies became the first colors to stay, and have stayed the only ones for a long time. The olive will soon have to be changed, since the yarn goes out of production, and we are definitely looking at more colors to add to the spectrum. Marine blue for example has been requested many times.
NOTE: The color selection has since changed, and it will keep changing occasionally.
Let us know in the comments, what color’s you’d like to see.
Some time in 2019, we experimented with dyeing beanies, and I am currently looking into ancient Japanese dying techniques, to bring you a few self-dye kits some time in 2021. It will be fricking awesome.
EDIT: One of many plans that has been sidelined in our 2021 focus.
That, by the way is how the two yellow beanies on the picture came to be.
NOTE: All of these products were sidelined in 2021 in order to focus properly on being a beanie company.
The hand knit wool socks have gotten far too little love, and it is on the 2021 prio list to get some more colors and some better product photos that properly represent the socky heritage that runs so deep in a Norwegian heart.
The socks are pivotal in the way that they brought us out of being only a beanie company, and paved the way for our flagship product (meaning, the only product that could be used as a flag for a ship): The All Man’s Right.
From beginning with beanies in a bag, with a little card signed by the knitter, we are back to square one. Beanies in a bag, card signed by knitter, plus a few stickers. (We are giving you a discount to compensate though.)
NOTE: We got some even better packaging in the pipeline, but this one is gone.
The reason was because the only box that really suited us went out of production, and I’ve scoured the internet for similar ones — but the few I’ve found can’t be shipped to Norway.
This lead me to look in other places, and began the most exciting project I’m currently working on — custom tailored boxes just of our products. It will definitely up your experience getting a Red Hat Factory product.
And thinking of that, I remember I have to get back to work. So many ideas needs to be put in action.
What if you were offered to buy an abandoned mining town? The price would correspond approximately to your entire life’s savings. For Brent Underwood the answer was yes.
In 2018, the marketing genius, threw his life savings into a pool with a few other investors and bought the historical town of Cerro Gordo, California. Among his partners, he alone is actively living in the mining town as they slowly restore it to former glory.
Cerro Gordo was one of the major sources of wealth for the Los Angeles region since it was started back in 1865, until it shut down in the late 1950’s. The first silver was found by a Spanish-speaker named Pablo Flores, who named it “Fat Hill,” a.k.a Cerro Gordo.
Such was the economic impact of the silver mines that in 1869 The Los Angeles Times called it the silver cord that binds our present existence.
Now the silver is long extracted, and lead and zinc as well. And the town is abandoned, crumbling, with many a mineshaft collapsed. But that is about to change. The silver of the 21st century, after all, is tourism, and once again these mines will extract ore.
I first heard about the mines in my YouTube recommendations, when a video named Day In The Life: Living Alone In An Abandoned Ghost Town popped up. I was intrigued (as the title intended), and with my 1 year old boy on my lap, we hunkered down and plowed though several of the videos in one go.
It is reality-tv that inspire one of the values we promote here at Red Hat Factory. Fighting back against the stress of our culture, and embracing the rest that comes with being completely absorbed in what you’re doing.
What is it that has such a draw about the Cerro Gordo restoration project? I think the idea of taking something once great, and slowly bringing it back to life is such a primal human desire. We are made to create and improve, and following others on their journey of doing so is immensely satisfying.
It also helps that the scenery is absolutely stunning, again and again.
And goats, quad bikes, mine exploration, along with the restoration itself. Can it get more inspiring?
I don’t know, but at least it can get more dramatic…
The silver mines hold a long history of hard work, success and tragedy. And recently another disaster became part of the 155 years of history. The American Hotel, which was a hallmark of the mining town, burned to the ground.
“Cerro Gordo is not a start up,” said Brent Underwood, and he claims he will die there. This long term thinking resounds deeply with me. From the beginning, Red Hat Factory, has been more than just a start up to grow and sell, and I relate to the feeling of wanting to stick with your passion through thick and thin.
However, I don’t dare to claim I’ll die with Red Hat Factory.
When the fire struck, I think the commitment showed. They will have to rebuild it from scratch, and winter is coming. But Brent refuses to sell and leave. With his goats and his score of kittens for company, he keeps working away at the place, all the while delivering reality-tv of the best kind.
Each video drops little bits and pieces of history, often based from things he discovers while scavenging the mining shafts.
A large part of life at Cerro Gordo, as I already mentioned, is exploring mines. The land is so riddled with shafts and tunnels, that Brent can literally head out on his huge property with no plan, and go look for signs of humans, and it leads him to a shaft. The trails of drinking bottles, tuna cans and metal pieces often lead us up to the gaping dark entrances, and in we go.
The amount of tunnels and shafts that crisscross subterranean Cerro Gordo is astounding. Kilometer after kilometer of undiscovered territory, just waiting to be searched for 150+ year old artifacts. Maybe it was just a can of tuna for the hungry miner of 1865, but for us it’s a treasure of history.
The main treasure he’s looking for is denim — and I know a lot of you Red Hatters love denim. If you find a pair of original 150 year old Levi’s jeans, they can go for quite the sums. Levi’s themselves, among others, will buy it back from the finder.
Lost jeans however is a whole another area to dive into. I am aware of the subculture of denim hunters — and if you’re one of them, please reach out to me and tell your story. The Red Hat community would love to hear all about that!
I, for one, am excited to keep following the journey of Brent Underwood and Ghost Town Living as the area slowly gets restored.
Here’s the video that reeled me in.
Watching a documentary about being to addicted to the screen is kinda paradoxical isn’t it? Anyhow… that’s what I did.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how much of my life really is digital.
I like to listen to a podcast in the morning while I hang out with my son. I work with design and programming the whole day, and then often watch a screen or listen to some kind of audio in the evening.
It’s shocking at times to assess the time you put down on certain things.
Now, I think all-things digital are awesome. The screen can hold an array of great hobbies, or a job you enjoy. But as with all good things, too much isn’t good.
A couple of Saturdays ago, me and my family decided to take a digital off-day and drop both audio and screen time for the entire day. It was such a detox, and so much easier when we didn’t do it alone.
We (as a general culture) suffer from sensory overload all the time, and if we don’t get ahead of it, it can consume us. Doing a detox when you’re in a more busy period, is necessary, but can be hard.
I have at times done a few tweaks to my life that turned out helpful, and I thought I’d share them.
My Facebook and my Instagram (which I need for work) always have notifications turned off. Still I don’t miss a thing, because I check them. The difference is, I decide when it’s time to do it, not digital dings from my devices.
This helped me much more than I had anticipated.
When last summer came around, I was pretty stressed out, and I decided to delete both Instagram and Facebook. It wasn’t that I never would use them, but if I did, I’d have to install them first.
The amount of times I mindlessly took my phone up and swiped from screen to screen, realizing there were nowhere to go, was outright scary.
After that detox lasting about a month, I still use both FB and IG way less (months and months later).
It kinda got out of my system.
My mother loves knitting, as y’all know by now. Your knit products from Red Hat Factory may or may not have been knit on a roadtrip, on an airplane, during a family birthday gathering or my mom’s fun night out with friends. She knits till her hands burn, and then some more.
If you have a digital hobby, I believe it’s important to pair it with a physical one, because a screen is both a stimulant, and more straining on your eyes than you think.
Woodwork, reading or getting out in nature — whatever’s not on a screen — puts the eyes (and maybe even the soul) to rest.
Maybe it’s time to go on those hikes you watched on Instagram instead of just liking them?
You can read about a great hike in Norway right here.
Having a lot of ADHD tendencies, this one is the hardest for me, and I bet some, if not all, of you can relate.
I get an idea and act on it very fast. I’ll be sitting working on an article for Red Hat Factory, when an idea for a great Instagram Reel pops up, and suddenly I’m there, looking for material for that Reel. And the article… well, he is crying alone in my drafts.
It’s so easy to just pop open Instagram and start scrolling. What if instead you were intentional. No shame in wasting three hours scrolling through memes if that was what you needed. But randomly ending up in such a rabbit hole because you didn’t think before you picked up your phone, is worse.
I try to start my mornings (being self employed) deciding what to do and making a to do list. Thinking before I jump into it. And when it comes to new ideas for Red Hat Factory, I try to run them by someone else before deciding.
One of the best things I did after this summer was going though all my side projects and just shutting them down one by one.
“No, I’ll not do that this season,” and “this one has to go…” and “you must die. Sorry…”
It might sound like you’re killing creativity by shutting down creative side-projects, but if you have too many of them, it might be just what is needed.
In my case I shut down almost everything but Red Hat Factory, and work has been more refreshing than ever since then. All my stray ideas can be snuffed out instantly, leaving space for me to go through with the “non-stray” ones, and give them the time it takes to be done properly.
I am in no way a “chill out-guru,” but as you might or might not know, one of Red Hat Factory’s value statements is the following.
“Our aim is to honor handcrafting skills passed down through generations, and to reclaim that space of no-stress that gives a worker the ability to perform his or her best while enjoying the craft.”
So seeking out chill spaces is part of our core.
Speaking of staying with one activity at a time. I began (and finished first draft) of this article after beginning to watch a Netflix documentary about social media.
I got 10 minutes and 37 seconds in, before my mind started wandering, and this article came to life.
I could chalk it up to ADHD, but even if life’s various challenges are different for all of us, I still believe that we should play our very best game with the cards we’re given. And playing your best game requires putting as many distractions as possible aside.
Now, what are your best tips for decluttering our digital lives?
There is something about a red beanie that stands out, yet fits well with almost every outfit. Let’s explore 5 outfits that go well with a red beanie, and — if we’re lucky — meet some of each style’s poster children.
We begin with the simplest style. You can’t go wrong with brown and beige along with the red beanie. Here you even sneak a peek at the blue denim shirt, which we will get back to later on the list.
Moving even further into the minimalist zone, we’ll explore the breaking point between black and midnight blue. Both of these provide the same result — a maximum contrast for your red beanie. Like a star in the night sky, the red now shines.
Before we move on to the more bold and iconic color combos, we want to visit one of my all time favorites. Army green.
In nature, the red beanie stands out against the green forest. So when you wear them both, you blend in, the beanie stands out. I think Kanye’s choice of apparel here is from 2017, but we are proponents of timeless apparel — and the red beanie and army green are both as timeless as styles come.
Yellow has become the iconic color for rain jackets. Red is the same for beanies. Two bright icons together creates a colorful collision.
Thinking of the fisherman beanie as a concept, it makes even more sense. The rain jacket is a fisherman’s working wear, and thus draws out the history of the fisherman beanie in your outfit.
They are poster children for the red beanie, and are mentioned a lot in Red Hat Factory stories.
What Jacques Cousteau, Steve Zissou and Marvin Gaye’s iconic outfits have in common is the red/blue contrast, which is one of my personal favorites. If you add the texture of a denim shirt to a well textured beanie — you have an instant classic.
Here at Red Hat Factory we are much more interested in seeing what you can come up with.
After all, though it’s a corny thing to say, the best pieces of apparel are the ones worn together with confidence and comfort.
The third day in Røldal sees rainclouds traveling across the layered mountains to cover the valley where we are huddled up in the small red cabin.
Rain, however, doesn’t mean we need to abstain from adventuring. It simply means we must get dressed against the elements. And maybe also do what we decide to — make it a roadtrip.
There is a path Asbjørn knows that will take us through the township of Røldal, then up and up on winding gravel paths that dig deep into the mountains.
The Blueberry Valley it is called.
Rain hangs thickly in the air as we take the narrow gravel road from the cabin and head towards the township. Here we will buy some road snacks and then head right up into the mountains.
Snack packed, we go.
As we first crest the top of the winding road, we see a cabin. A small old mountain cabin, that probably has been used by shepherds at some time in history.
The rain is already way lighter.
The old faithful VW is on the road again, like so many times before. It makes for a spacious hangout while the rain occasionally comes pouring.
At the end of the gravel road, which runs surprisingly far up the valley, we have to leave the car. That does not mean we have to stop though. There’s a path following a river further upwards, and at the top are small snow patches, that I like to call tiny glaciers.
One of those become our target.
The glaciers are small compared to the mountainous surroundings, but in reality I can walk fully upright under the crest of them.
In the end we rest at the top and enjoy the view. A view that is far better enjoyed with a friend than alone.
In the end we are back. Hungry, and ready for rest, we start cooking while the darkness wraps itself around the tiny red cabin. Tomorrow it’s time for the return home.
All the pictures from this story, plus the other chapters are gathered under #rhfgoestorøldal on Instagram.
Also, all our Adventure Story pictures are found under the hashtag #rhfadventurestories.
He gets a lot of mention on Red Hat Factory. The legend, the sea farer — or more accurately, below-sea farer — the style guru for Red Hatters across the world and diving equipment development pioneer. But was he also a megalomaniac? Let’s find out.
Born 1910 in France, his career first pointed him towards the air. He had completed mostly every step on the way to become a naval pilot, when luck struck him.
He broke both his arms in a car accident.
It broke him out of his current career path, and maybe it made him think twice. After that accident, he chose to pursue his passion for the ocean, for which he would devote his whole life.
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”Jacques-Yves Cousteau
At the beginning of WWII, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his wife Simone took refuge in Megève, a small village near the French Alps — not far from Mont Blanc. Here he met Marcel Ichac.
Cousteau and Ichac had one thing in common — documentary films. Ichac’s passion for showing inaccessible mountains to the public, and Cousteau’s passion for the depths, made for an interesting duo.
It began a long line of documentary releases, some of which made film history.
“Every explorer I have met has been driven—not coincidentally but quintessentially—by curiosity, by a single-minded, insatiable, and even jubilant need to know.”Jacques-Yves Cousteau — The Human, the Orchid, and the Octopus
In 1943, they won their first prize for a co-made documentary called Par dix-huit mètres de fond, or in English, 18 meters deep. It was filmed on the French Embiez Islands with no breathing equipment.
The camera was always with Cousteau, and his two main interests remained diving and film making through his life.
His most significant release was without a doubt The Silent World, which won an Academy Award for best Documentary Feature, and was the first ever documentary film to win an Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was cut from 25 kilometer of film reel, filmed over 2 years, and brought the depths to the public like never before.
The desire to go ever deeper and unveil hidden depths to the public, drove Cousteau and his crew to ever greater lengths. The next film Épaves, or Shipwrecks, was filmed using the first ever Aqua-Lung prototype.
The Aqua-Lung is the invention that brought air-tank based diving equipment to the general public, and Émile Gagnan, a French engineer, together with our man Cousteau are credited with its creation.
The Aqua-Lung was not a completely new idea — few inventions are — but it came from a couple of other genius contraptions combined to maximize the time one could spend underwater.
Once again it was Cousteau’s desire to go deeper that drove the innovation forward. And it would be far from the last time.
“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.”Jacques-Yves Cousteau
For some years Cousteau worked with the brand new Underwater Research Group, which was created by the French navy to add force behind his endeavors to explore the depths.
His time within the group led him on everything from mine-clearing missions, to rescue operations, to spying endeavors across the entire world. All along, he pioneered underwater technology and explored further possibilities.
After a few years he left the navy and leased his now infamous ship, the Calypso. The lease was one franc per year — a mere symbolic sum — and the ship became his home base. A research vessel fitted for diving and documentary film making.
“The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat.”Jacques-Yves Cousteau
It was during his time on Calypso, after years of experience and clout generation, that he teamed up with Jean Mollard, and they built the commonly dubbed “diving saucer.”
It was exactly what it sounds like — a flying saucer that could go to 350 meters of depth. The official name was SP-350 and the nickname, Denise. It could handle a crew of two, laying down, and was famously used by Cousteau to explore the wreck of HMHS Britannic.
Actually, the search for Britannic, which is a sister ship of the Titanic and the Olympic, began under quite interesting circumstance.
Jacques Cousteau was in Greece looking for Atlantis. Yes, that Atlantis — the legendary city, sunken in the sea.
He didn’t find the city, but during his time there, he was contacted by the Titanic Historical Society, who wanted him to search for Titanic’s lost sister. The Britannic had sunk at some unknown location while serving as a hospital ship during WWI. This one he did find, and its discovery began what would mount up to 68 manned dives to the wreck by Jacques and his team.
One of these dives, in Denise, happened when Jacques was 67 years old, and it became one of Cousteau’s deepest dives ever.
Astronauts actually owe a lot to Cousteau. He was among the first to spearhead a humane habitat in an atmosphere not fit for human life. Under the sea, he built a village, where him and his crew could spend months at a time.
There has been a Conshelf I, II, and III built and launched.
One of the shelfs even had a docking station for Denise.
Obviously, the adventurers were studying ocean life while they lived down below, but also, their living situation provided insight into how a different air pressure affected humans. Their hair and beards grew slower, but cuts healed quicker. It was an alien world, and they made it habitable in a whole new way.
The Conshelves are covered in much more detail in this brilliant Medium article.
“The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.”Jacques Yves Cousteau
There is a Jacques Cousteau quote that’s circulating the internet. It’s pretty shocking, and after some research, it turns out it’s completely genuine.
“In order to save the planet it would be necessary to kill 350,000 people per day.”Jacques-Yves Cousteau
The quote in its context is just as bad as it sounds. Talking to UNESCO about what we could do to eliminate human suffering and disease, he replied that it was probably not a great idea to do, since for the planet to survive we would have to eliminate 350,000 people a day. (My understanding of the quote is that we should let nature run its course on the sick, and don’t interfere.)
Lightly perusing Jacques Cousteau’s life, you see an otherworldly, almost painting-esque adventurer, but if you dig a bit deeper, his humanity shines through, in all its imperfection. And as you’ll see, he was a man willing to admit to his shortcomings.
I am not a fan of holding a man to his mistakes, but this is a side of the picture that needs painting as well, if we’re doing the deep dive.
Many connect Jacques with a fiery engagement for nature — as we saw on the earlier quote — but for him to become the spokesman for mother nature that he became, a complete u-turn was required.
During the filming of The Silent World, Cousteau and his crew famously injured a whale on purpose, thus attracting sharks who ate the poor fellow — all for the movie shots.
At another time they used dynamite near a coral reef to study the species that come floating to the surface — something that to your modern ears may sound worse than the filthiest swearword.
However, later in Cousteau’s life he did a 180, and began speaking up for the ocean big time.
To such a point was his turnaround that he is said to have insisted on sharing the clips where him and his crew mistreats oceanic life to create great shots — instead of attempting a cover up.
Though he tried to dive ever deeper, he was willing to let his humanity float to the surface.
“Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.”Jacques Yves Cousteau
In the beginning of his career, movie making seems to have taken the front seat, and the ocean was only a tool to be manipulated in ways to get the best shot. However, as his understanding of the ocean, and its relationship to humankind deepened, the focus turned.
His turnaround engagement resulted in the founding of the Cousteau Society for the Protection of Ocean Life, which still is actively teaching people across the globe about the ocean and its ecosystems.
The red knit cap that Jacques Cousteau wore became an icon, very much because of the man himself (and his crew, who also wore them). (Wes Anderson also had a role in bringing it to the next generation.)
After having spent most his life on sea, he slowly became a tv-personality and a household name. Through both film and tv he made his way into people’s living rooms, thus connecting the red hat with adventure forever and after.
The red hat has a whole story in itself, running back through the navy, but that’s a subject for another article. All we need to cap this article off (pun not intended), is a fantastic quote from one of Cousteau’s tv-appearances.
“The Calypso crew and I will be undertaking a series of voyages of exploration and discovery in all the seas of the world. We have few rules and no uniforms, only the right cap.”Jacques-Yves Cousteau
And so do we. The world is at our feet, and we have few rules — only the right cap.
Cousteau continues to inspire, not only for his hunger for the deeps, and skill in the craft of film making, but for his willingness to change as he went along in life, and to not attempt a perfect façade.
Rough, sturdy and simple — the working class fisherman and his rough knit cap has ever been an inspiration for how we knit our products. But how well can we trace the roots of the fisherman beanie back to actual fishermen?
So to us, the sea and beanies are irrevocably connected. But going further back, what inspiration was Jacques drawing on? I want to get to the roots. Beyond pop culture beanie-names, beyond the iconic red hat of Cousteau, to the small village fisherman who simply wanted to fend for his family.
There are some suggestions around the internet about how rolling up the beanie could have been a workman’s way of making sure he heard well; that he could communicate with his mates.
This makes a lot of sense and explains well enough the rolling up of the beanie. But with my own years of experience in crafting and using hand knit beanies, I think I can complement the story with another perspective.
A beanie is the optimal temperature regulator. Freezing winds coming at your ears? Fold it down. Wind’s letting up? Roll it back up and release some heat. Sun’s out? Take it off and tuck it into your pocket. Unlike bigger headwear, the beanie can be carried in your pocket like it’s nothing.
“It makes complete sense that docked fishermen would roll up the beanie over their ears.”
It makes complete sense that docked fishermen would roll up the beanie over their ears. They are in the harbor, the winds are weaker, and it’s time to let off some heat.
This one black and white picture I found features a fisherman wearing a wool cap. And when it comes to wool, we Norwegians have very strong opinions.
Wool is a choice material for a beanie at sea, because sheep wool has the incredible power of keeping its insulating features even when wet.
So tying these ideas together. Let’s go paint a broader picture of this fisherman with his beanie.
Imagine a coastal society. It’s a time when most women are the keepers of the house, while the men are out providing for the family’s economical needs.
Say what you want about gender roles — I’m not here to discuss that, but simply to dig into history. This is the sort of historical context where knitting found its form. And
There are deep historical roots to why knitting is prevalent among women in Norway (where Red Hat Factory comes from) to this day. I know my mother learnt it from her mother, who again probably learnt it from hers — the roots stretch far back.
Those days were a time when the woman was tasked with actually protecting the household against the elements — and among the tasks required was keeping her family warm at the onset of winter.
In our imagined little coastal society, not all the fishermen could afford a water proof sou’wester, so the next best alternative stood in line. Wool was readily available, and the property of wool that isolates even when wet made it a fine second choice.
So she knits him a beanie, tight knit because of years of skill (she has knit for every one of her seven kids) and full of care because she desperately wants her man to come home from the sea, today as every day before — and to not catch pneumonia, which at the time would have been potentially fatal.
In this way the hand knit fisherman beanie represents the simple life of hard work and survival that most people through history has lived.
It is good to look at history for perspective, and maybe to gain some gratefulness for the luxuries we enjoy every day.
Finding images of actual fishermen, wearing beanies is tremendously hard. The modern trend of the fisherman beanie has taken over image searches, pushing the black and white genuine photos aside.
Mostly whenever I find a picture of what we would call a fisherman beanie today, it turns out to be a modern day portrait, taken with a vintage style. The real pictures I’ve found however, reveals something very interesting.
It seems that people put whatever they wanted on their heads before heading out to sea. When you write a history article like this, you’d like to find cold hard facts and list them up. But back in the days when the fisherman beanie was born, nobody called it a fisherman beanie, and there was no consensus to how it should look.
They were simply fishermen. And if they put a beanie on — well, then that was a fisherman beanie.
You might have noticed on the first black and white picture in this article, that the fisherman has an incredibly long beanie with a pom-pom at the end.
The style derives from fishing societies in Portugal, specifically the Povoan culture.
Their culture was centered around fishing. Their legends and their religion — it all swirled around the sea, sea creatures and fish. Saint Andrew was believed to reel in the souls of the perished at sea and deliver them into heaven, like a batch of fish. And they avoided work on Sunday because of an old legend about a sea serpent punishing people who violated the holy day of rest.
Most importantly though, they wore the longest fishermen beanies the world has ever seen with pom-pom and all — and with that they sported the wildest sideburns known to man.
Deeming from the last illustration, the beanies were even red. And you know exactly how we feel about that!