Since childhood, I’ve seen the pom-pom as a completely natural addition to any winter beanie. Now that I’ve been delving into the history of beanies and their making for years, I’ve begun questioning the seemingly useless, dangling ball of thread.
When researching the history of the pom-pom, a wide variety of sources pop up. Historically armies have worn them into battle. To what end? Scaring their enemies? “Hey, yeah, I thought we’d put this ball of thread on top of our attire. It will rattle the bones of our enemies.”
A pom-pom has been used to denote all kinds of rank, including marital status. The latter reminds me of a weird concept the Norwegian Tourist Union came up with, where people were supposed to state their “dating availability” by the color of their beanie. Red: Taken. Green… Yeah, you get it. Traffic lights and all.
At the root of all these sources we find a little statuette claimed to represent the norse god Freyr, and, you guessed it, it’s wearing a pom-pom. Even the gods wear it! And good for us, as a Scandinavian brand, we can claim it for our own.
Pom-poms against depression
There’s a nice little article overviewing the use of pom-poms in various historical and cultural contexts by Danil Zhiltsov. One thing that stood out to me was that while talking about the pom-pom on a traditional Scottish hat, Danil says that “they enjoyed their biggest rise in popularity during the Great Depression of the 1930s.”
It makes total sense. Who needs anti-depressants when you can just put a pom-pom on your headgear? And look at it — there’s a pattern here. It’s on the war attire as well. Conclusion: If you head into great darkness, wear a pom-pom to cheer you up.
When we were in the southern Norwegian mountains shooting some photos of our own take on the pom-pom beanie, I noticed some sort of soothing effect. As the ball rolled around on my head a slight massage occurred. Maybe this was the original idea, lost in time.
Willem Dafoe’s pom-pom — Steve Zissou and Life Aquatic
Now, let’s reel this article back in.
We’ve long drawn inspiration from Life Aquatic and Steve Zissou. One day we looked at this image, and Willem Dafoe’s pom-pom embellished beanie. And we thought to ourselves, maybe this ridiculous dangling embellishment from our childhood could be kinda cool.
The red hand knit cap is the beginning and the heart of our company. Everyone from Jaques Cousteau to Kanye West wears them. But what outfits go well with a red beanie?
1. Red cap, blue denim shirt — Marvin Gaye, Jaques Cousteau, Steve Zissou
They are poster children for the red cap, and are mentioned a lot in Red Hat Factory articles. What all their iconic outfits have in common is the red/blue contrast, which is one of my personal favorites. I often wear a denim shirt with my red cap.
2. Red cap, green jacket — Kanye West
In nature, the red cap stands out, and that is kind of the point. Wearing military style greens with the cap is never a mistake. Especially if you’re out hunting and want to avoid being mistaken for a moose.
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 deep into that history can we dig?
We already wrote a whole article about the Steve Zissou hat, and how that has shaped our beanies. Steve is a fictional character who draws his inspiration from red beanie wearing, submarine genius Jaques Cousteau. But what inspiration was he drawing on? — what connected beanies to the seafarer in the first place?
History of the fisherman beanie
I’d love to come up with something deeply symbolic, but I think history is very simple — yet beautiful — when it comes to the fisherman beanie.
Imagine 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 todig into history.
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 responsibilities 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.
In this way the hand knit fisherman beanie represents a 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.
Real fishermen beanies
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. And that is just how we like it.
The super long fishermen beanies with pom-poms
You might have noticed on the first picture, beside Cousteau, 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.
The 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 fish the souls of the perished at sea into heaven, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 lovefrom a parent to a child, and therefore we keep the beanies pure.
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.
Slowly by slowly the family of beanies, knit caps, or toques are growing. Whatever you want to call them, they are what they are — a long thread of colored wool masterfully knit together into the shape of a head.
The word golden, instantly triggers the instant classic “Golden” by Cory Wong. Go give that a listen if you want something smooth and funky to brighten your day.
We are proud to present the next coloration of our one and only collection of products, the beanies. But also, behind the scenes, we are working on a whole new product. I’ll let you know what that is once the time comes, but you could, of course, also give it a guess in the Red Hatters Group. Maybe we’ll let it slip, maybe not.
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.
A Norwegian blessing
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.
A worthy packaging
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.
The Olive Red Hat Factory beanie has been long expected by many. After all, Red Hat Factory’s roots are firmly planted in the adventure of the green-dyed outdoors, and it only makes sense to match that color in our wooly apparel.
We have been purposefully slow to expand, since the red knit cap, as the foundational idea of the company had to be there alone and have its time in the spotlight before getting any siblings.
Red Hat Factory is after all not just any beanie collection, but a parlor of carefully hand knit beanies that takes about four hours of meticulous crafting per piece. We don’t just want to drop something with no care.
In 2018, the color expansion started with a couple of grays, which are not really colors but what we like to call non-saturated versions of the red (wink wink), and then a few more bold Limited Editions. But now that Red Hat Factory brings in the first actual color into the base collection, what better color to come first than the green of nature itself.
Say hello to the Olive, available in all our models.
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:
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Red knit caps have over time become a symbol of adventure and exploration, across the world, and also deeply rooted in Norwegian folklore. How did it become such an iconic piece of headwear, and what is the origin of the red hat?
Traditionally, a beanie, hat or a knit cap—which is the technically correct term—is a working man’s outfit. Seamen, foresters, explorers—anyone spending their work days outside would—and still do—use it for the obvious purpose of keeping the head warm.
In Scandinavia some form of cap resembling the modern knit cap has been used already since the days of the Vikings, and when knitting entered the region around the 17th century, it slowly replaced the classic skill of nålebinding, and became the primary way of hand crafting caps.
Askeladden — The Original Norwegian Red Hatter
In Norwegian folklore there is this character that keeps appearing—seemingly jumping around through stories, making his way into most of the main fairy tales. His name is Askeladden, roughly translated into “The Ash Lad.” He is famous for tricking trolls, riding magical flying ships, and other true adventures—all wearing a red knit cap with a pom-pom—a Scandinavian tradition since long back.
Quick word fact: The word “adventure”, shares a common root with the Norwegian word “eventyr.” The Norwegian word means “adventure”, but also “fairy tale.” And that connection is there for a reason. Almost all Norwegian fairy tales is about someone going on an adventure. Especially our red capped friend Askeladden.
The topplue — a knit cap with a pom-pom — is something incredibly Norwegian. (Though all of Scandinavia probably could and would claim it as theirs). I did absolutely grow up wearing one of these.
The “topp”from “topplue”refers to the top, meaning the pom-pom. The one I wore was sadly not a red one, but a black one streaked with really ugly pink lines, which I borrowed from my dad. I will spare you the picture for now.
When you look at pictures of Askeladden, you cannot help but have your thoughts going to the classic Norwegian fjøsnisse. He’s a little guy that is presumed to live on the hayloft of farms, and come out and either help or sabotage things on the farm. Around Christmas, one would put out a little porridge on ones porch to thank him for his help (and maybe bribe him into not sabotaging you).
This Christmas tradition was the last fjøsnisse-related activity to be observed, and therefore the images of the red-cap-wearing fjøsnisse, and the red Santa Claus that would later be imported from America began blending together.
Fjøsnisse now equals Christmas.
If we look into the history of why the fjøsnissewears a red cap, however, it might turn out we got some things the wrong way around.
Coca-Cola and Santa Claus
It is not a historical deep exciting root that makes Santa Claus currently wear red. It is in a large part the result of a huge marketing effort by Coca-Cola in the 1930’s.
Somebody made a red Santa, at a time when he was portrayed in different colors — often blue — and Coke picked it up in order to turn their brand into an all-season drink. Before this, people mostly bought it during hot summer days. This Santa is still highly associated with Coca-Cola, and the marketing campaign established Santa as a red cap wearer until this day.
From this time forward, the American Santa Claus, the Norwegian fjøsnisse, the English Father Christmas, and many other has blended increasingly into one entity.
If this is why Norwegians depict their fjøsnissewith a red knit cap today, I don’t know, and would love to hear your input on it, but it seems highly likely. I imagine the classic Norwegian folk tale being slowly saturated by the influence of the Coke Santa’s globalization, and now is known to wear red.
Zissou or Jacques Costeau?
If we are talking about one person in the entire world that made the red knit cap into a symbol of exploration, one must instantly go to Mr. Costeau. You may not know him, but maybe know Steve Zissou, from Life Aquatic?
Zissou is a film icon, but he is inspired and based on a real life adventurer, red hat wearer and explorer icon named Jacques Yves-Costeau. He was a pioneer in diving and sea life exploration. Such was his love for the ocean and nature in general, that he is quoted explaining how we should start killing off large amounts of humans to save the planet.
However. He also delivered a lot of quotable lines of a much lighter nature. Let us instead pick a beautiful one.
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
Now, the reason why we love him so much is his taste in knit caps. If you take a look at him, you will notice his excellent cap taste — a style that has been part of influencing the development of the Southlander, our most basic red hand knit cap.
Steve Zissou, and the film The Life Aquatic is a case study inred explorer caps. Their team colors in the film are blue shirts and red knit caps, some of them wearing rounded caps like the Southlander, and Zissou himself wearing a pointy tip one that was part of influencing the design of our North Cap. Also one can see a really nice pom-pom flapping around in the movie.
The film is completely based off of Jaques Cousteau, and is in fact dedicated to him.
The Workingman Knit Cap Brought to the Office
In Norway we have a living legend. His name is Olav Thon, and he owns a chain of hotels — Thon Hotels. He is one of the richest people in Norway, but also seems to be an incredibly chill person.
He wears colorful suits to high end business meetings, and is quoted saying something like the following.
If I had to wear those regular black suits, I would be bored to death.
My Paraphrase of Olav Thon
He is an honorary member of the Norwegian tourist union, and spends huge amounts of time in nature — a true son of Norway. But this, of course, is not our favorite part of him. We have to look higher.
He faithfully wears a red knit cap. He has proven one can wear a knit cap to business meetings and still be successful. Thank God!
So when I wear my red Southlander in Norway — no surprise — people keep calling me Olav Thon.
Color Blocking Against Nature
One of the historical reasons for wearing a red cap may very well be how one stands out against nature tones. Very much like workers nowadays wears yellow or orange work clothes to stand out.
I have noticed the effect of this. I am a relatively tall guy, faithfully wearing his red hat, and whenever I am to meet somebody downtown, they instantly spot me from a distance because of the red hat. It is more than a hat, it’s a gps!
One of Sweden’s great sons, Mora-Nisse — a famous cross country skier — became known for wearing his red hat as part of his competing outfit.
He won the infamous Vasaloppet in Sweden year after year, all in all nine times! And all of this while wearing a nice red knit cap with a pom-pom dangling from the top. I bet he was easy to spot in the track with that red hat against a backdrop of white snow.
I do not know if the red hat is why he was named such, but the word “nisse” refers to the red hat wearing little creature which we Norwegians call fjøsnisse,and thereby draws this very article straight back to the starting point.
Adventures, fairy tales, bold colors, red knit caps! It is all connected like the stitches that make up one of our hand knit caps.
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.
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.
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.
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.