Why Are We Fascinated by Handcraft | Red Hat Factory

Why Are We Fascinated by Handcraft

Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Category: Red Hat Culture Red Hat Culture
| September 13, 2022

Since childhood I’ve always taken things apart, trying to understand how they work. I believe this is one of the core elements of why so many people are fascinated by handcraft.

We should save the planet, for sure. But be completely honest. Do you love handcrafted stuff only because of your virtuous attitude to life? I think it’s more complex than that — even if our altruism definitely plays a part.

We don’t need to buy completely handcrafted items to save the planet. There are machines that are more environmentally friendly than others. And you can run machinery with care for the ones handling it. If we wanted to, there’s even hand-operated knitting machinery available.

I wouldn’t be opposed to it if we didn’t exist to honor our Norwegian heritage of hand knitting. And honestly, a neighbor from my childhood did defy the gender norms of his time and Norwegian heritage by being a man knitting on a knitting machine — so maybe we have to do that once in honor of him. (But if we do, it will be clearly disclosed. Don’t worry all our work is knitting needles only.)

A knitting machine – almost hand made.
I think my neighbor operated one of these, or a similar one.

This is my take on why we really love handcraft

First of all there is a certain esthetic associated with handcraft, that many of us gravitate towards. Raw materials spread out over a desk, a person intensely focused on using their hands.

It creates a very attractive environment.

But back to the intro. I always loved taking things apart to understand their parts. And handcraft does this to us.

When we see a pair of knitting needles going, there is a direct thread back to history — years and years of holding sheep, shearing them, and grinding the fibers into yarn.

When you see handcraft at work, it makes you think of the entire process from raw material to finished product, and you are invited into perceiving the entire process and understanding every step.

Understanding the world

Every human has some level of desire to understand the world. And honestly, starting this company and getting to research the history of beanies, wool and knitting has expanded my thinking a lot.

I often enjoy standing on my balcony, watching the sprawling cherry tree, and thinking about how it was a single small seed at one time. And in that seed lay the entire blueprint for the tree.

If that’s not magic, what is?

And when I am in a large city, like Stockholm, I like to think about how every single beam of metal, brick lain, and wood carven, was once a part of the earth and our forests.

And somehow our knowledge has compounded so much over time, that we’ve reached the level of technology we have now.

Lost in all of that, looking at an age old handcraft can help ground you. Its simplicity allows you to understand the complete journey from the earth to finished product. And you remember something of our relationship to the earth, and how mysterious it is.

So both of these things count to me. The idea that a person has been personally invested in ensuring the quality of what I buy, and also been allowed to spend time in the zone. As well as the idea that I can grasp the path from the product all the way back to the earth.

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Written by Benjamin Antoni Andersen
Published on September 13, 2022 in Red Hat Culture
Designer and instigator of Red Hat Factory, constantly hungry for mountainous adventures.