Since we’ve finally gotten the hang of using our knitting machine, well, mostly that is... We thought it’d be cool to walk you through how we go about producing our beanies in-house.
Before we get into the actual knitting though, there are some things we have to take into consideration.
It's no secret that there is a complete lack of transparency plaguing the modern business world. We think it's bullshit, and have been inspired to create a video series called “Behind the Screens” as a means to remedy this issue. As we learn the ins and outs of running a sustainable business, we hope to inspire others and spread lessons learned along the way by documenting the process (with some adventure thrown in too, of course).
These things being yarn weight, material, and style/fit objectives. Top it off with a wide variety of ethical and environmental dilemmas caused by the apparel industry, and you’ll find yourself smack-dab in the middle of our world. We’re going to put it as succinctly and positively as possible, but if you know us, you know we aren’t going to coat anything in sugar.
The weight of the yarn essentially describes the thickness of the strand which will determine how thick a beanie you’ll get when all is said and done.
Mass-manufactured- Your typical mass-manufactured beanie will use a 0 on a scale of 0 to 8 (worldwide yarn thickness scale). In other words, it’s super, super thin. The thing is, they knit a tube that gets doubled over so it ends up being comfortable, not too light nor too heavy, and stretchy. They do the trick as you probably know but usually wear down pretty quickly and lose their elasticity because of the thinness of the yarn itself and the space allowed between stitches, which, we’ll dive into more later.
Made by us- We’ve found that for city roaming and coffee shop chillin’, a size 1 to 2 is most comfortable and durable without overdoing it on the thickness, and snaps back in shape. If, however, you regularly find yourself out in the backcountry waist-deep in snow, a size 3 will keep your noggin dry and toasty. Any heavier and you’re going to end up with something too thick and stiff (aka uncomfortable).
We all know what we’re talking about when we refer to material, but why does it matter so much?
Mass-manufactured- The majority of these beanies are going to be made of acrylic yarn which is a synthetic fiber made of plastic. Ya, plastic. Bad for the environment, kiddos, as it takes decades to break down completely.
Natural fibers are beginning to be used more and more by the big-business man, however, if you flip your current go-to beanie inside out, I bet you’ll find it is either 100% acrylic or a mix of mostly acrylic and a natural fiber like wool.
Made by us- Acrylic yarn has become popular for a reason. It’s cheap, holds up for a fair amount of time depending on the amount of use, and soft. We, however, will only use a synthetic yarn if it has been repurposed, cleaned, and respun. Most don’t realize that if a sweater or blanket ends up in a thrift store and is not purchased within a certain amount of time, it’s shipped to a landfill somewhere which is a huge fucking waste of material that has years of life left. It’s our responsibility to reuse what can be before purchasing new materials to further prevent textile waste, and we believe very strongly that this should be standard practice for any apparel company.
Any other material we purchase will be of the natural variety. Think sheep, alpaca, organic cotton, bamboo, or a mix of any of the above and whatever else we can get our hands on that feels comfortable and soft while minimizing the negative impacts of the apparel industry on the planet.
Mass-manufactured or not, it’s all about fit and function, baby.
Slouchy style? Brim or no brim? Does it need to be able to take an extra-hard beating from the outdoors or extra soft for those days you want to feel like you’re still in bed?
Then we adjust accordingly. If you’re going to be outside a lot and that beanie is going to need to wick moisture and keep you warm, we’ll choose a snug fit, a yarn on the thicker side with a tighter stitch length so nothing yucky gets in and heat doesn’t escape. If you’re wearing it around town, you might want something a little lighter with a stretchier fit and some slouch…
The cool thing about making your own stuff is that you can make something for everyone. So as far as the fit goes, we have the opportunity to make both extra-small and extra-large sizes. It’s exciting because we never want anyone to feel excluded or like they can’t make better purchasing decisions because of something that should be easily accommodated- such as a smaller or larger noggin.
This process is extremely personal for us, and it's fun to give you all a closer look! Next time, we'll get into the machine and how it all comes together.
by Alexa Francisco
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