Summer Beanies of 2022
Benjamin Antoni Andersen
| 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.
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.
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.
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
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?!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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
“[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Am I calling my own mother an old lady? Not really. But… it wouldn’t have been that bad. In our family age is something we try to honor and are proud of. Age is wisdom, and old age is when you’re entitled to more comfort and respect from those around you.
We believe that older generations have wisdom to pass on to the next one, and we have found a way to include more of that into Red Hat Factory.
“Old lady advice” or — the less flattering translation — “hag advice” is a saying or proverb that has gone from generation to generation. No one knows from when or where it originated, but everyone has heard it.
A good example came early this year, when my Grandmother suddenly exclaimed, as we were dining Norwegian lapskaus: “There’s a difference between daddy and the cat.”
I had to have it explained for me by my mom later that evening. The proverb had been said because I couldn’t eat the dessert (because of allergies). In this proverb I was the cat who’s not getting what’s served at the table. Not everyone should be equally treated — the worker is worth his pay, as they say.
These proverbs were more freely thrown around back in the days, and since we are all about Norwegian traditional knitting, we’ll throw another piece of Norsk culture into the mix.
From 2020 on you will get a handwritten note with a selected piece of old lady advice or an old Norwegian blessing, written in Norwegian with every beanie you order. It doesn’t get more primal than that.
The one in the picture is a classic Norwegian blessing, incorporating old fashioned humor, rhymes, and a reference to a classic toilet.
Spoiler alert: Some are more serious than others.
It is only a few generations since everyone had an “outside-toilet” (utedo). These usually stood (some still do, especially outside the typical Norwegian mountain cabin) on the edge of a precipice or wall, so the waste could gather up in some sort of tank, or area below. This was excellent fertilizer, so grass normally grew rapidly in the general area behind the toilet. This card says “may happiness grow, as grass behind the toilet.” In Norwegian, that rhymes.
If you receive a card, and want the translation and decipher the meaning, you’ll have to chat with us, and that’s just what we want — more connection with you guys. You’re the ones making Red Hat Factory an exciting journey, and we always love hearing from you.
The beanies we sell in store at MacLaren Barbers have been packed in modest slick white packages, with each respective logo stickered on the front. Because of an issue with shipping from Norway, we couldn’t use the same for our beanies through mail.
Now however, I have found some packages that work for international shipping, and we can finally deliver the beanies just as we wanted all along. It has taken some time, because this is a small family business, and many things have been higher on my priority list. But, here it is.
There are actually more ways than you might think, and the choice is all yours.
Our models deliver as a tube that you are free to fold as you like, and the lack of any tags on the edges makes your freedom total.
One thing I’ve noticed through selling beanies all across the world — no one wears it the same, and that is the beauty of it.
With that said we have three basic ways of wearing a Red Hat Factory cap.
The difference between our two most sold models, is only in the very tip. The North Cap is joined tighter to make the tip more sharp. The Southlander, is smoothly rounded. Other than that, the main body of these two beanies are the same, and can be worn in an array of different ways.
The single fold might be worn either over the ear or behind it — in both instances it can be a good look. It is more common to wear the North Cap this way, since it makes the spike more distinct.
Remember, both your head shape and hair style add additional uniqueness to your beanie’s shape.
Probably the most common way to wear a Red Hat Factory cap across the world.
Sophia and Kevin are sporting two Southlanders,
I honestly can’t tell if this picture a roll or a sloppy double fold, but I like the idea of rolling the edge, as opposed to doing sharp folds. And I have seen it done, looking great!
Just to underline how different we are, and how the caps we wear shape to our style and head shape – here is a bunch of people wearing it their way.
Be like them – unlike each other.