Summer Beanies of 2022

Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Category: News Reel News Reel
| June 10, 2022

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.

Pastel beanie #1 — Peach

What would a pastel beanie line up be without Peach — maybe the most pastel pastel there is.

Pastel beanie #2 — Pear

Going with the summer theme, we named the other beanie after the delicious fruity flavors you often find in your ice cream.

Pastel beanie #3 — Violet

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).

Pastel beanie #4 — Sky Blue

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.

Visit Mom’s Market

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.

Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Published on June 10, 2022 in News Reel
Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.

50 Shades of Aleks Grey — Meet the Norwegian Artist

Aleks Grey
Category: People:Passion People:Passion
| June 3, 2022

Four years old, in my small Norwegian West Coast township, I often put on a vest and played keyboard for my family. My mom has said I would always pretend to be Elton John. Nowadays it’s shoes off and red hat up top — and my name is Aleks Grey.

Red beanie hat Norwegian music artist
Recording “Myself Hurt” in a Vikingship.

My grandfather played the accordion, his brother the traditional Norwegian violin, hardingfele. My mom plays the violin, and my father plays piano and sax. Suffice to say, I have always had a lot of music around me.

I grew up in a beautiful, quiet township called Heggjabygda, located near Nordfjordeid on the West Coast of Norway. The size and remoteness of the community meant that I often found myself with a lot of time on my own — time I spent making my own melodies and eventually lyrics.

Aleks Grey is dropping a new single at the release date of this article.

I took piano lessons, taught myself how to play the guitar. I was always singing as well, although not publicly until I was 15 or 16 years old. I was, and still am, shy, but at the same time there is no greater feeling than being on stage.

The size and remoteness of the community meant that I often found myself with a lot of time on my own — time I spent making my own melodies and eventually lyrics.”

Aleks Grey

The Grey sound

When I was 20, I got accepted to the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. That same year I started my own solo project under the stage name Aleks Grey.

People always ask, “Oh, Aleks, what’s the story? Does it have anything to do with 50 Shades of Grey?!”

Well… anyway…

From 2013 to 2016 I lived in Liverpool making music, friends and a lot of good memories, and somewhere along that journey I discovered my sound. As it turned out, it was way more connected to my home and roots than I thought.

Norwegian musician wearing a red hat in the Mountains
My roots consist of Norwegian fjords, valleys and mountains.

Some people roll with the bands and artists they heard at home growing up, but my parents listened to Katie Melua, Gypsy Kings and Dire Straits. Don’t get me wrong, they have some good songs, but it just didn’t click with me when I was in my teens — I was still searching.

Oh man I feel old, thinking back on MTV, TV ads for new CD’s, Absolute Hits, McMusic… That was how I discovered new music. There was no New Music Friday or Discover Weekly.

For my own songwriting I never knew exactly where I was going. Drawn here and there, and inspired by different sources at different times, I meddled in dubstep, folk rock, singer songwriter ballads, house/EDM, jazz and more, but there wasn’t any consistency.

“The more I experimented, the more I realized I wanted to make music with my hands.”

Aleks Grey

Moving back to Oslo in 2016 I really wanted to make more electronic pop, really “up to date”/ top 20 kind of music. But I quickly found out that I don’t have it in me to become like Martin Garrix, Calvin Harris, Ryan Tedder and those guys.

I always seemed to move towards something more organic. The more I experimented, the more I realized I wanted to make music with “my hands.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking a dig at EDM producers or other producers that only use electronic devices and programming — they can have just as much talent as the next guy.

I just found out it’s not really my sound. 

I had to follow the calling back to my roots.

Norwegian music artist Aleks Grey as a child
Roots.

I grew up singing, and playing piano and guitar. It was with these three tools I wrote songs. And I always wrote my lyrics by hand. It was a more analog approach.

Through my explorative journey I’ve found my sweet spot between the modern sound, and modern tools, and connected it with my roots. In my song B.A.B.Y. I wanted a violin solo, performed by my good friend Madelene Berg. It’s pretty unusual for a pop song in the 2020’s to have a violin intro, but that is the personal twist that comes from my roots.

Norwegian musicians in the studio, with a violin player.
Madelene Berg recording violin for “B.A.B.Y.”

Inspired by the Norwegian mountains and fjords

Most days I do my writing in the studio, but I like the idea of going to my family’s cabin. Well, it’s more like a small hut. A 45 minute walk from our ranch, we have a 200 year old cabin. No power, no water. Just a wood stove and candles. And the idea of being there, with a notebook and an acoustic guitar and still being able to write my music, might be the purest reconnection with my roots.

But I have more ways than one.

Norwegian artist Aleks Grey in his home town in Norway.
In the mountains of Norway.

To do my best work I need to have the right atmosphere. When the pandemic hit in 2020, I built my own studio together with two mates. We tore down walls, rebuilt, did soundproofing, and painted the place. We call it Pytt Studio. Pytt is the Norwegian word for a puddle. So the Norwegian nature intrudes on the music again.

We built our own studio desk using the top of an old table, combining it with some modern, slender “legs”. At the most we’ve had over 30 plants in the studio. It’s green from the floor till the roof. We even got plants in the ceiling. Most studios I’ve been in are very clean with led lights and black acoustic panels. We’ve gone in the opposite direction.

We get coffee beans from Sognefjord Kaffibrenneri, so every morning we grind beans and put on a fresh pot of coffee. I then sit down by the piano, an old thing from East-Germany. It sounds old and “rusty” but yet it has a certain tone and warmth that I love.

The painter Erik Bergan has painted a puddle (the “pytt”) on one of our walls. So we’ve really made it our own and we’re very happy with that. No matter the weather outside, or whatever is going on in the world, I can always go there and get the same good atmosphere every time. 

Norwegian musician Aleks Grey at the grand piano.
At the grand piano.

What’s up next…

In August 2021 me and two friends went to Ocean Sound Studio at Giske, just outside Ålesund. This studio is the perfect combination of a world class, up to date studio, with just mesmerizing surroundings.

Together with Iselin Solheim, we wrote two new songs. One song is releasing today (!), the other will follow soon after. I’m also heading to Germany to play my first festival of the year, and when fall hits, I’ll be playing in Oslo.

And as always I will try to find that balance between the modern, electronic music, and blend in sounds from my 100 year old piano and my grandfather’s accordion.

Written by Aleks Grey
Published on June 3, 2022 in People:Passion
Aleks Grey is a Norwegian pop-artist, hailing from a small town in the west. In 2021 Aleks Grey was listed on major Norwegian radio (NRK P3) as well as airplay on BBC Radio in the UK and German radio. In 2022 he signed a record deal with MTG Music and i soon set to release new music.

Conquer Your Fear of Beanies in 3 Simple Steps

Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Category: Red Hat Culture Red Hat Culture
| May 27, 2022

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.

For you to even know that our beanies exist, I have to do certain things. Like focus on beanies only, use the keyword beanie, like I’m doing right now. Maybe even bolden or italicize the word beanie.

Sometimes, this tinkering with words and trying to reach out through the internet, goes too far.

Thus the title of this article.

How Beanies Saved My Life

Colorful hand knit beanie
Find this beanie on the Market.

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.

How to Have a Healthier Relationship With Beanies

Four colors of hand knit wool beanies
Our collection is always growing.

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.

Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Published on May 27, 2022 in Red Hat Culture
Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.

In Search of Stories — Behind the Westcoaster Film

Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Category: Adventure Stories Adventure Stories
| February 25, 2022

“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.”

The finished Westcoaster video.

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.

Beanie in Norwegian fjords

One long beckoning coastline

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!

Beanie testing in Norway

To the West Coast in search of stories

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.

The new Westcoaster beanie in a Norwegian fjord.

First things first — a knitting mother documented

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.

A Westcoaster beanie being knit.

The West Coast in a day

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.

The Westcoaster beanie braving hurricane winds.

Hurricane winds and the might of the mountain

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.”

The Westcoaster beanie almost blowing off.

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.

Gales of wind.
The yellow warning showed up on our phone. The numbers in parentheses are the gusts. 24–27,5 m/s equals a 10 on the Beaufort scale, and comes with the following warning: “Trees uprooted, considerable damage to buildings.”

Epilogue — it’s not over yet

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.

Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Published on February 25, 2022 in Adventure Stories
Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.

The Shaping of Our Beanie Models

Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Category: Essentials Essentials
| September 4, 2020

When we set out to design the first ever Red Hat Factory model, we didn’t go looking for the spectacular. Quite the contrary.

Looking at products and heritage items we consider absolute classics, we noticed one commonality. The classic yellow rain jacket, rough worn oak tables, faded leather belts, the knives that my dad has hanging on his wall, that we have used on all my childhood adventures — they all share one trait.

Simplicity.

From the outset, we knew we were making a product the old way — the way it’s been done from generation to generation. And wanting to also create a product that would be appreciated for generations, I let my mom take me back in time, showing me an array of basic simple knitting methods and their aesthetics.

Red beanie on Norwegian traditional wool sweater.
What we in Norway call ribbestrikk. It’s one of the basic tools of the craft. Here a Southlander is laying on a Norwegian Setesdalsgenser — a regional traditional sweater pattern.

Following the red thread

I’ve learned through both design and writing, that the creative process often starts with a more bloated product, and then is slimmed down through the cutting off of unnecessary features.

I am sure a lot of you can relate that to your own work. We often over-design — then cut back.

For the first Red Hat Factory cap, we went through 5–10 different models, and model by model we dropped things. First the unique knit pattern along the edge, then the shaped panels that gave an approximate head shape to the product.

Four red beanie styles
An extremely rare photo of some of the pre-production experimental models. My wife right there in the middle. Most, if not all these beanies are given away a long time ago.

Finally, after hours upon hours of work, I dropped a final idea on my mother. “What if we just make the hat a tube, and let the owner shape it by wearing it.”

It sounds boring, but in all its simplicity, it actually worked best.

And the people loved it.

“The quality is amazing, and I know I’ll be able to use it for years to come!”

Morten Furre, Australia

“Fantastic quality, durable and stylish. Each Red Hat has been hand crafted with love and attention to detail.”

Greg Burkin, Canada
Red beanie on Norwegian traditional sweater.
The final beanie is just a tube sown together on the top. You create the fold yourself.

“[The Southlander] is by far my favorite – it’s quality top notch and unlike my other beanies it feels just perfect. Whether you’re dressed up and going out on the town or just heading to the store this is a must for any occasion.”

Nathan Pearson, USA

“I am using the Southlander pretty much every day.”

Asbjørn Østreim, Norway

“Like a good wine, this gets better with age.”

Billy Chester, USA

We knew we had hit something.

First model down

Finally the first of what was to become the Southlander was off the needles, knit using the technique called ribbestrikk in Norwegian, and sowed together in an x on the top. Nothing more nothing less.

Red beanie in Stockholm
Me randomly snatching brand photos while hanging out with friends in Stockholm. This is the first Southlander ever made (at the time called “the Rounded”) and I still have it at home.

The tube shape makes it look small when you get it, but once it’s had some time to shape itself to your head, it becomes better fitted to you than any pre-formed shape could bring.

Also, since the cap is a simple tube with no defined edge, you control how you fold it. We have another article that dives deeper into possible folding styles.

From fishermen to carpenters, the simple, yet gritty style of a workman’s beanie has been a hallmark of the hard working craftsman.

Simple is classic.

Simple hats, simple brand

When we first released the beanies to the webshop, the Southlander was simply named the Rounded. And paired with the simple design and the simple name, came a very simple sketched icon.

First brand of the rounded red beanie.
The first Red Hat Factory product — the Rounded.

The whole brand was built and centered from the historic notion of the old beanie, knit by a wife before she sent her husband out on the sea to haul fish nets in the pouring rain.

While he is out fishing, the woman gets a business idea, and hastily she sketches down a few beanies with her pen. Then she sighs and peers out the window, wondering whether he will return today or not.

Little did that proverbial woman know she was planting the seed of Red Hat Factory to come.

That is the story behind the type of assets we use in the brand to this day. They have evolved a lot, but the style remains. Mom-made. Home made. Simple lines.

Three red beanies.
The three beanie models we have today, with the overhauled brand names.

A Point to the Round

The North Cap was at first a failed attempt to cap off the beanie in a round fashion. It became pointier than it was supposed to.

When my quirky brother in law saw it, however, he loved it more than what I considered the final product. I soon realized we needed a second model. Based on the first, but with a touch of different, for the more explorative soul.

In line with the simple brand, we just named it the Pointy Tip.

Red beanie.
The second model’s initial branding.

Its base was, and still is, exactly the same as the Southlander, but it caps off in a peak rather than a half circle, making it the first choice of the ones who wants a basic cap, but with a slight edge to it.

Red beanie brand
The simple branding process. In the first round of branding material, not much changed from final sketch to digitalized asset.

It still is a classic though, and draws much of its inspiration back to the movie The Life Aquatic, which itself draws on the real life character Jacques Costeau.

Children Invade the Brand

A long time we only had two models, one color. And I refused every suggestion for additional colors and other products — very purposefully. I felt like if we were going to be the Red Hat Factory, we need to have at least a year, where we are just that — a factory of Red Hats.

As a side note, we aren’t really using a factory — it is true hand knit. But that is a different story.

The third beanie model, the Bay Bee, has a boringly simple history. When a friend, in our early days, asked if we had one for children, we said yes, and made a smaller version of the Southlander.

Not much more to say on that.

There is an interesting feature to the baby model, however. You know how I told you that the wool beanies are very small, and stretches a lot to fit your head. This is just how wool needs to be to properly fit you. On the Bay Bee, this makes the beanie fit from babyhood to 3-4 years old, but look very different at each stage.

You can see we stuck with the simple names, but you’ll notice, the following drawing is a little more polished around the edges than its predecessors. This actually inspired me to rebrand and rename all the beanies in turn.

First branding of the red beanie for babies.
The first Baby model.

Talking of that stretchiness

Most our customers express surprise when they see the size of the new beanie. It is small.

Your average cotton beanie doesn’t stretch a lot, so what you see is what you get. A wollen knit cap will grow with you, and take its shape from your head. In the beginning, the hat can even be a bit slippy for some people, especially when your hair is newly shampooed.

Like a good pair of selvedge jeans, or a new set of leather boots, it needs to be worn in. After that, it will be your most trusty friend.

No brand for a reason

Many also express surprise at the lack of any brand assets on the cap. You get a Certificate of Authenticity upon purchase, and there will be stickers in the box — but the beanie itself is completely bare.

Red beanies in a stack.
The branding is found separately on the box and on stickers — but the beanie itself is bare bone.

We chose this because of the history of the brand. Taking the experience of growing up with a knitting mother and bringing it to you. When she knit me a piece, there was no brand. It was pure, just a gift of love from a parent to a child, and therefore we keep the beanies pure.

Washing instructions are found on the web.

With the lack of brand, the texture of the beanie needs to stand out even more, and so it does. We chose wool partly for its features (isolates even when wet), but also a lot because of its look. Gritty and rough, connecting you with the hard worker on the seas a hundred years ago, the construction workers balancing the beams of Empire State Building when it came up, and the kind hands that knit it — stitch by stitch, with care.

Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Published on September 4, 2020 in Essentials
Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.

Every Stitch of 2017

Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Category: News Reel News Reel
| January 25, 2018

So the globe has turned the 365.25 times it takes for 2017 to become 2018, and with it, Red Hat Factory has twisted and turned, and been through a lot of exciting changes. Here is a summary for you.

Tiny stitches, large hat

Red Hat Factory was born out of a passion for red knit caps, respect for the craft, and as a creative outlet. I love creating brands, and work with this on a day to day basis!

When working with branding for other customers, there remains a need to build something of your own, to express the style you love, and I decided to build an adventurous brand around my newfound passion for red knit caps. As it slowly grew into being, it brought a wish to give something back to my parents—to allow my mom to be paid a reasonable price for her excellent knitting skills.

In between customer work, and not seldom after working hours, I have put countless hours into forging the Red Hat Factory brand. As a consequence, we have seen it yield results and grow a lot through 2017.

Apart from local sales and sponsor hats, we have sold hats to:

  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Russia

That is great fun for a little Norwegian South Coast Family Gig.

We have also sent a few sponsor hats and gifts to different people in America, Germany, Norway & Sweden in 2017, some of which returned amazing photos!

Hand knit beanie on child.
One of the hats we sent as a gift to a good friend in America.

All the tiny things we do come together like stitches in the great knit piece that is Red Hat Factory. Through 2017 I feel like I have found a rhythm that enables the growth to continue at a pace, and the challenges that come up to be tackled head on. Like my mother knitting, stitch by stitch, patiently enjoying the process, the brand Red Hat Factory is growing into a complete knit cap, ready to serve to the adventurers out there.

Upping the Instagram game

In 2017 I feel like I have found the tone I want to have on our Instagram channel. A mixture of different portraits of people wearing the knit caps, and a large portion of landscape photography that me or my friends snatch when out exploring nature.

Learning to use and pick the right hashtags is part of the process, and my reach have grown exponentially as I have found the tags that reaches the people that might like Red Hat Factory. I have begun listening a bit to a podcast that teaches Instagram, after a recommendation from my sister—whom by the way is awesome at the Insta game.

Btw. Follow us on Instagram.

In December I also got a new camera, and I am ready to pick up and refine old skills that I haven’t used for a good while.

Red hat factory hand knit red cap
The first photo taken with the new camera.

Before I continue, here are a few shoutouts echoing out from 2017:

  • Thank you WESN Goods, for your shoutout that lead to sales for me in 2017.
  • Thank you Scandinavian Alps Coffee Roasters for trading me the best coffee beans ever for a cap!
  • Thank you MacLaren Barbers for so many adventures together, many good haircuts gotten, and for selling the cap in your shop!
  • Thank you Asbjørn for being the best travel buddy anyone could wish for!

Product rebranding

One of the most fulfilling parts of Red Hat Factory 2017, was to rebrand all the caps. Here my creative expression got an outlet—though of course keeping with the original Red Hat Factory style. I love the rough had drawn style, and for our hand made products, it is a perfect match!

In choosing new names, we went from simple and basic, into building more of a story around each and every cap, and drawing inspiration from the Norwegian varying nature, we went from the coastal bay areas with rounded hills, to the radically pointed mountains of the north.

New beanie names for our wool classics.
The simple names have been reworked into having more personality and style, to reflect the actual products better.

Thank you!

I want to express my gratitude to all of you that have bought our hats, all the Instagram and Facebook comments, the expressed excitement, the interest in what Red Hat Factory is and is becoming. All of it is very much appreciated by both me and my mother.

Every share, like and comment also lets new people know about Red Hat Factory, which is awesome. So if you want to show us support, interact with us! It helps us in many ways.

My more than 90 years old grandma knit some of the caps that were sold to Canada, and she thought it was so much fun that they had gone all the way over there! I’m just gonna throw in a picture of her, if you haven’t seen her, since she is such a legend.

A red hand knit cap in the making.
The grandma herself working on a cap.

We are all enjoying this adventure and all the challenges that comes with it. And when I say adventure, that naturally leads us straight into the last point.

Adventure Stories

As of 2017 we have started releasing Adventure Stories, which are fairly lengthy written stories, sometimes paired with a video, from when we have been out exploring somewhere in nature.

So far, we have only released one, and I refuse to stress the one from Lofoten that I am currently working with. Quality before quantity! It will come in 2018, but not quite yet. However, every Adventure Story comes out on Instagram and Facebook before it releases on the page, so you can view pieces from the Lofoten Adventure Story under #rhfinlofoten.

Good luck with your 2018, and I hope you keep following us, wherever this new year takes us.

Thank you!

Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Published on January 25, 2018 in News Reel
Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.

Turning a Labour of Love Into a Job

Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Category: Essentials Essentials
| December 7, 2017

I have always admired and sought after the feeling of being able to go to work and enjoy your craft together with friends. No stress, only good company and the satisfaction of a job well done. The world has a way of pushing against this, turning up the heat, and demanding slightly more than you can produce. At times, I think we should push back.

Traditionally, hand knitting in Norway has been a matter of the mother of the household having to turn those sheep grazing outside into heat for the approaching winter. As a way of protecting and caring for your family, it is a labour of love in the truest sense of the word.

Sheep resting in Lofoten Norway
Those sheep have to be used for all that they’re worth.

Now, years and years later, industrialization has revolutionized the country, and the culture is so different that some would be offended only because I said it was the mother who did the knitting – which it traditionally has been. That is a whole another discussion, but hand knitting still lives on, only it has gone from being a means of surviving the snowfalls, into a hobby or side project – still a labour of love, but not as functional as it once was. And when an entire generation has had this as a hobby, and from time to time been selling it for a symbolic sum, it is hard to turn the prices back up.

Here at Red Hat Factory, we believe that everyone should be able to work with something they love, and that this is actually possible, but it partly requires a return to the value and respect of hand crafts of all kinds. It requires that humanity takes a step back, to find pleasure in their work again.

Four Hours = One Hat

One Red Hat Factory cap generally takes about four hours of handiwork, not counting the endless practice hours and knitting heritage that goes into each and every hat. That means that for every thousandth cap we sell, we have enabled hand knitters to work four thousand hours, in a tempo that doesn’t wear out the creator.

Keep in mind the effort that has gone into each product, and that by buying a Red Hat Factory product, you are enabling a long standing tradition to live on into future generations.

Twenty Crowns an Hour

So my mother and some of her neighbors were hanging out in their knitting-club, when the subject of hourly pay came up they had to laugh a little. Usually they sell a product for a fixed price that they imagine a customer would be willing to pay, and they don’t pay very much attention to the hours.

But now they did.

Curiosity sparked, they did a rough approximation of the pay-per-hour they got in the end after selling a basic wool sweater to a customer. The number that came out was twenty crowns!

You may not know how much a Norwegian Crown is worth, and the value needs to be seen in comparison to Norwegian prices. So here it is: Twenty Norwegian Crowns can get you approximately one bread – but not one of the high end ones.

So clearly this handicraft is still viewed very much as a hobby and that, we intend to change.

Paying a Price Makes You Value The Product

You will never appreciate a cheap, mass produced sweater the way that you value something that you had to save up to afford, maybe wait for it to be finished, and then have it staying with you through the years, taking the heat, and getting the wear and tear that is involved in heritage products.

Two Rounded Red Hats. One new, and one worn for over a year around the world.
After over a year of almost daily use, the hat on top starts to have a heritage of its own. It gets rougher, and in my opinion, much better looking.

There is something in the very fabric of Red Hat Factory, that makes us want to create space. Space for you to maybe wait a bit before you receive your product, space for you to long a little bit before you have it in your hands. Space for the craftspeople to care for each and every hat—not being stressed by a demand to produce in a hurry.

Chill out. It is healthy.

Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Published on December 7, 2017 in Essentials
Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.

No Bull, Just Wool-Policy

Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Category: Essentials Essentials
| December 7, 2017

The words handmade, organic, authentic, and such are thrown around so lightly. It’s almost like a stamp of approval you have to have on your products. We do not want to jump on that band wagon just for the sake of it – we want no bull, just wool.

One thing we value a lot is to call things what they are. We want you to feel safe when we say that something is handmade, so while we always present our product the best way possible, we will avoid lying. Unless of course we speak out of misinformation, which I have no guarantee against.

We really love handmade, raw and real. And this love of the real is ingrained into the core of the company.

When we say it is handmade, it is really handmade—not made on a “hand-knitting-machine”. My mom or some of her friends/family have actually put down approximately four hours on each product, which is what it takes to get all those thousands of stitches together.

We buy our yarn from a Norwegian factory, we hold no sheep of our own, though that would be fun in a future scenario. The wool is also mixed with a little nylon to strengthen it. Our products contain 80 – 85% wool.

Fun Fact: A Bay Bee consists of 7148 stitches. We counted once for a competition.

This is what it looks like when a knit cap is being knit — behind all the branding, the packaging and the programming — it is just my grandmother, mother or their friends chopping away at the yarn.

The old way, the genuine way, which we treasure tremendously.

A red hat being hand knitted.
My grandmother hand knitting a red hat. Either a Southlander or a North Cap.
Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Published on December 7, 2017 in Essentials
Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.