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The Shaping of Our Beanie Models

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

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.

Every Stitch of 2017

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.

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!

Red hand knit children's cap.
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.

Our red hand knit caps.
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!

The Story of Red Hat Factory

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

While Lord of the Rings was blamed for having too many endings, we may be blamed for having too many starts. It started with a dream—a literal one. Also it started with a man named Chester, surrounded by a crew of red hatters. But before any of this could have happened, it started with a mother carrying a legacy like many Norwegian mothers do—the legacy of hand knitting, perfected through generations.

It was around 2012 I met this wild bunch of red hat wearing Americans when I moved to Stockholm. They wore them faithfully. I liked the style, but it was not really my thing. Until one morning on my birthday, I think it was number 24, Billy Chester slapped a red hat on my table as I was drinking my morning coffee, and I had the choice. Would I go hard or go home? I did not go home—at least not at once.

Bringing the Chester hat to Mbeya, Tanzania.
Testing the Chester hat in Norway with my brother.

After taking the red hat of Chester from the streets of Stockholm, Sweden to the lakes of Nævisdal, Norway to the mountains of Mbeya, Tanzania, an idea started forming. I went back to Norway, and while surrounded by too many cups of coffee and a belly full of Norwegian kringle, I pitched the idea to my mother. We went down into the yarn-ridden basement, and started looking through the shelves for that perfect shade of red.

Looking for the perfect yarn.

Things take time—as we always say in Norway. After pitching the idea, with no name or brand, we started knitting—or rather, my mother started knitting, sending packages to Sweden, and I gave feedback and we discussed how to perfect the product. Two seams on the top, making a cross, instead of the five-pointed star one of the prototypes had. No fold, so you can fold it after your own liking. Pointy tip or round? We decided to give you the freedom to choose.

Trying out prototypes with the crew.

After months of trying, we came up with the first original model, now called the Southlander, and I tested it for a year or more through the heat of Burundi, the cold of the forests of Norway and the streets of Sweden.

Letting the cap go through the cold of Sweden.

The red hat has many poster children. One of them being Olav Thon, the Hotel-King of Norway. He wears it so faithfully that when they made a statue of him outside one of his Hotels in Oslo, they made it with him wearing the hat. Back when Jesus did not only have twitter followers, but actual followers who stalked him around the country, there the red hat was represented.

Jesus and the red hat disciple.

A very special red hatter is Steve Zissou. I am going to be so honest as to say I usually don’t enjoy Wes Anderson that much, even though we almost share last name, but I do like Life Aquatic. The red hats against the light blue awesome-shirts are eye-candy. So. When back in my parent’s basement, in search of the perfect yarn, my mother suggested one and I looked down: “Sisu”. That’s perfect! Zissou, Zissu, Sisu: Basically same thing. That is the yarn that makes up the basic red hat collection right now.

Believe whatever you want, but the name Red Hat Factory came to me in a dream. I was so into all these hat-plans, and I dreamed that we started the business and called it Red Hat Factory, and that we launched a website with some brick-wall design in the background. So I followed my dreams—literally.

Ben takes the red cap to MacLaren Barbers.

When my brother in law Ben (original red hatter and friend of Mr. Chester) said he wanted to sell the hats at MacLaren Barbers, I knew I had a chance to actually go for this and give it a try. Why not? Have an adventure or die trying.

After going back and forth testing model after model—and while my mom was knitting, I was shaping and preparing the brand—we landed on the basic Red Hat Factory hat. It comes as a clean-cut piece of knit cap—no pre-fold—and you decide how far down to fold it and how far down towards your eyebrows you pull it. With time it shapes itself after your head, and starts to smell like you. It is made by mom, and shaped by you. Bring the hat on an adventure and make it yours.

The red hat is branded and ready.

Get one. Be a part of the story.

Turning a Labour of Love Into a Job

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

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.

No Bull, Just Wool-Policy

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

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.

Care & Clean

Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen Published on December 7, 2016 in Essentials Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.

Our products are made of 80–100% sheep’s wool, and need a few touches of love and care to continue with you through the years.

The wool we use is provided by South American sheep (mostly Uruguayans) and is processed on the Norwegian West Coast. These sheep provide softer wool than the Norwegians do.

If you want to get technical, wool fineness is measured in micron. Most Norwegian wool is at 32–34 micron, while the wool we use from South America is about 26,5. The infamous itchiness threshold is at 27 micron.

If you want a rough, primal looking wool product, but without the itch, 26,5 is just the value you want.

Washing instructions

Washing machine settings

  • All our products can be washed on 40°C wool setting.
  • Use detergent specifically for wool, or no detergent at all.

The wool setting on your washing machine gently lulls your product into cleanness, instead of tumbling it around. If it goes all centrifuge on you, don’t worry. The wool setting knows what it’s doing.

Do not tumble dry (and how to dry sweaters)

You may tumble dry it if you want to, but it will come out as something entirely else. That process is called felting, and is not what we are going for.

Sweaters should not hang up to dry, as it’s weight will over-stretch it. We recommend laying it down, maybe across a washstand.

Hand washing

You may also go completely rouge and hand wash your items. Just make sure the water is not above 40°C. We also recommend not to hand wash sweaters, since it can result in weird stretching.

Washing frequency

Wool is naturally anti-bacterial, so most of the time it’s enough to air it out. You are the judge of when washing is necessary, but the less you wash it the better it is for both the product and the environment.

Tightening up a stretched beanie

If you happen to have lent your cap to a friend with a rather large head, or have worn it and as a consequence of your thoughtlessness it no longer clings to your head, then do not despair. Just dip your cap in warm water, squeeze it tight and let it dry without stretching it out. The wool will shrink back to perfectly clasp your head again.

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