Hats & Designs

The beanie hat’s surprisingly intriguing origins

mamouthThe basic beanie hat forms the heart of many of our most loved baby hat designs. So I started wondering the other day where the beanie hat itself came from. Here’s what I learned.

It all started in Wales almost a thousand years ago

First of all, the term beanie hat can refer to two main types of hats: the rounded, seamed cap often with a button on top, or a soft, stretchy knit cap. Beanie Designs makes the soft stretchy kind.

The first hats of the style of beanies we’re talking about seem to date back to the 12th and 13th centuries. They were called Monmouth caps after the name of the town where they originated. The earliest versions were worn by women and made of velvet, taffeta, or satin adorned with embroidery.

Even the first beanie hat makers were obsessed with quality!

Between the 15th and 18th centuries, Monmouth caps evolved to look pretty close to a knitted beanie cap you could find today. These beanie hats were knit of wool by hand knitters in the town of Monmouth in south east Wales, because the sheep there, called Ryeland sheep, produced particularly high-quality wool.

Wikipedia tells us, “The industry of cap manufacture by hand knitters in and around Monmouth was well established by the 15th century, when court records show Capper as a common surname in the town.”

The hats were worn by soldiers and sailors and widely exported. The wool was felted to make the hat waterproof.

Everyone must wear a beanie hat on Sunday…?

These early beanie hats were used so commonly that nearly everyone in England and Wales wore them. In fact, the Cappers Act of 1488 forbade the wearing of caps made outside the country, upon penalty of fine! Nearly 100 years later, there was even an Act of Parliament that required those older than age six to wear this type of hat on Sundays and holidays (excluding some people such as maids and ladies, and when travelling).

Gradually, the precursor to the beanie hat was manufactured in places other than Monmouth, leading to new names cropping up, including watch cap.

In the 1620’s, the early settlers of Massachusetts brought their Monmouth caps with them to the New World.

I wonder what the early Monmouth knitters would think of our Beanie Designs hats today?

Toddler Tenderness

Does your baby have an object he loves?

My son is obsessed with toothbrushes. I’ve had to move my husband’s and mine out of the drawer in the bathroom where I’ve kept them for years, because he goes and gets them – and then brushes everything with them.

He will take the tube of toothpaste and pretend to squeeze some out onto the toothbrush. Then he waves it around vaguely near his mouth, probably thinking he’s brushing his teeth. Then he’s off and running with the toothbrush firmly clenched in his chubby little hand.

He now has about 3 toothbrushes stashed around the house and car. He carries one with him into my older son’s preschool during drop-off and pick-up. (The teacher said he could be obsessed with worse things, right?)

I’ve heard of babies having strange loveys: a water bottle (oh that crinkly sound!). A shoe. But I’d never seen it for myself. My first baby never became attached to anything in particular.

But as is often the case, my second baby is SO different from the first.

The foam baseball bat was the first lovey to go everywhere with him. Then when that went missing, it became a bubble wand.

We tried getting him attached to a proper lovey. He had a little plush frog that attached to his pacifier that he was supposed to form an emotional bond with. (It was supposed to help wean him off the pacifier. You just remove the paci and hope they’re happy with only the frog. My son just laughed as he tried to suck on the spot where the pacifier had been attached. And then cried for the real thing when he really wanted it.)

That frog has hopped off somewhere and my son could care less. So now we’re going with toothbrushes. At least he doesn’t want to sleep with it!

What about your kids? What do they have for loveys?

Random Thoughts

Hard to say goodbye

A peek of a cloth diaper while sunning his legsI just dropped off my complete cloth diaper stash to be sold on consignment at the local Just Between Friends sale.

When you participate in these events, you place your items on the shop floor yourself. Last night, I had to tear myself away. My husband called to see if I was alright because I was taking so long.

After I had all my other baby items set up in the appropriate spots, I returned to see my diapers – twice. The second time, I went through them all lovingly and made sure they were displayed in the best way possible. I didn’t want to say goodbye.

I felt a little weepy over it all. And honestly, I was feeling foolish, too. Crying over diapers (almost)? Come on!

But these diapers had been a labor of love, as so much baby stuff is. I spent hours poring over websites, reading reviews, and waiting for sales, until I cultivated the cutest, fluffiest, most comfortable and convenient bunch of baby diapers I could find. All for my tiny little baby.

There was a minky tiger striped pocket diaper. Another that was made of denim with real pockets on the back! And one that was a deep, intense purple. They were so soft. There was bamboo, organic cotton, hemp, some cherished wool pieces, and a few fleece-lined diapers. I probably had more than I needed. (Here’s my diaper stash in the early days.)

I guess cloth diapers were an obsession for me.

But each diaper had a time when it played favorite and earned its price tag. Even prefolds and flats had their utilitarian role, amazing me with their resilience and lack of staining month after month.

As I left the sale setup area, I wished I had taken a photo of all my diapers together. Then I realized I barely had any photos of my son wearing them! Yikes! I had tucked away one newborn diaper from his tiniest days, but that’s it. The rest are likely gone forever now.

I was panicking on my way home. What if people take them out of their packages and the inserts get lost? Should I go check on them during the sale? Could I go back and grab them all up? Right now?

Should I have just kept my favorites as keepsakes? No. I had decided when I invested in cloth diapers that they were to be resold. Besides, then I’d have to keep them all. (I’m not a hoarder, really!)

I also realized this is just part of letting your baby grow up.

He’s mostly out of diapers now. In fact, I keep him in Blueberry Training Pants most of the time. But this event made me – insanely – wish he would still be in diapers. What mother wishes THAT?

Yeah, it was time to let go.

What about you? Doesn’t every mother have something of her baby’s she cherishes and holds dear forever?

P.S. I’ve heard our cute baby hats make great keepsakes, too!

Toddler Tenderness

Is it poop or chocolate? A misunderstanding with my toddler

My toddler entered the kitchen and stopped in his tracks when he saw me. He said loudly: “Poop!”

Usually he tells me just after he has done a nasty in his diaper. But how can that be, I thought. I just changed you a minute ago.

Then I looked at the chunk of chocolate cake in my hand.

He thought I was eating the poop!

Thinking back to that very recent diaper change, yes, I could see how he might make that connection. The area where I normally change my baby was cluttered, so I’d laid him on the bathmat on the floor. Somehow the ball of poo had rolled out of the diaper onto the floor, to his amusement. (It was that not-yet-smushed-because-I-did-it-standing-up-and-didn’t-sit-in-it-yet kind of poop.)

After cleaning everything thoroughly, and lamenting a pile of other things that seemed to be going wrong that day, I had next ventured to the kitchen for some chocolate therapy. That’s where he found me a minute later.

“It’s CAKE,” I told him earnestly, grasping what he now understood one was to do with the poop after a diaper change.

“POOP,” he insisted, looking confused and skeptical.

It actually was the same color, though I certainly hadn’t been thinking of that when I was eating it…

“Cake, cake, cake!” I showed him the spot where the cake had been kept covered on the counter. Only now it was empty.

I was losing the battle. So I offered him a taste. He inched forward and took a tentative nibble. He said, “Good!”

I only hope now that I haven’t convinced him poop tastes like chocolate cake!