Turning a Labour of Love Into a Job
Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Red Hat Culture
| December 7, 2017
I have always admired and sought after the feeling of being able to go to work and enjoy your craft together with friends. No stress, only good company and the satisfaction of a job well done. The world has a way of pushing against this, turning up the heat, and demanding slightly more than you can produce. At times, I think we should push back.
Traditionally, hand knitting in Norway has been a matter of the mother of the household having to turn those sheep grazing outside into heat for the approaching winter. As a way of protecting and caring for your family, it is a labour of love in the truest sense of the word.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chill out. It is healthy.