No one is sure where the name “beanie hat” came from, but there are several theories.
Some think it’s from the slang term “bean” referring to the head. Others point out that the button that was commonly found on top of beanie hats a long time ago was about the size of a bean.
My mother used to tell us to put a hat on to go outside to play in the winter because we lose most of our heat through our heads.
It turns out that’s not entirely true.
While a hat can definitely prevent the heat loss that occurs through the head, and therefore keep you warmer, we don’t actually lose MOST of our body heat through our head.
Yes, there are people who actually study these things.
Jolie Bookspan is one such person. Through her work designing rigorous experiments for military survival training, she has found out that we really lose less than 20-30% of our body heat through the head. (Interestingly, the colder it is, the higher the percentage of heat lost through the head, she tells us. At zero degrees Centigrade, we could lose as much as 35% of our body heat through our heads! That percentage also depends on what you’re doing: if you’re exercising outside, it then becomes a smaller percentage.)
Where did the head-heat-loss myth come from?
The Guardian reports a new study that debunks the popular myth. The site tells us, “The myth is thought to have arisen through a flawed interpretation of a vaguely scientific experiment by the US military in the 1950s. In those studies, volunteers were dressed in Arctic survival suits and exposed to bitterly cold conditions. Because it was the only part of their bodies left uncovered, most of their heat was lost through their heads.”
However, in response to the new study mentioned in the Guardian, Kenneth J Collins, a clinical physiologist, brings up a concern. What if people, particularly the elderly, forego hats if they learn that this myth is actually false? The study, he says, ignores the fact that cooling on the head and face actually can have important bodily effects. It seems that cool air on the face can cause systemic cardiovascular reflex responses, and that body temperature can be selectively influenced by cooling of the head and face.
Remember, babies’ heads are bigger, relatively
So, while it may be true we don’t lose MOST of our body heat through the head, 20-30% is still a big number. Imagine what this means for babies, who have even bigger heads relative to their body size, and therefore more surface area from which heat can escape.
So, don’t skip the baby hat when you’re going out on a chilly day!
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?
Babies and toddlers grow fast. Bigger kids are tough on their clothing. But we bet you the wearers of Beanie Designs hats are still keepin’ cozy and lookin’ good this winter season.
How can I be so sure that a Beanie Designs hat will last and last? For two reasons:
- Because of how our hats are constructed
Designed for flexibility
Many of our unique hat designs include small ways of adjusting for the perfect fit. Take for instance the earflap hat: the flaps can be tied up in the back and the front can be rolled up if needed. (See how I did this recently.)
Several kids’ hat designs can be worn comfortably floppy at the younger age and with a more fitted look toward the older age (see Leela’s look at just under 3 years in a 3-10 years hat).
Of course our beanies can be rolled up or down depending on the head size. My preemie with his teeny tiny head even wore this infant hat here very comfortably, though he was very small for it.
While the first 6 months are sized in 3-month increments to fit tiny infant heads ever so perfectly, after that, the size range provides much longer wearing through growing stages. The 6-18 months size can see many kids through two winters, as can the 18-36 months size.
In fact, given the stretchiness of many styles, some hats can be worn well beyond the age stated (my four year old puts on his brother’s 3-6 months football hat and my husband can wear my preschooler’s apple hat!) Still, we recommend you measure your child’s head and check the measurements for the style you’re considering for the best fit.
High-quality materials and construction
Beanie Designs’ high-quality organic cotton yarns are pretty sturdy, keeping their shape and vibrant colors even through regular machine washing. Proprietary knitting and crocheting techniques provide great reinforcement for seams and other areas that might start to come loose or show wear much sooner on inferior hats. (Read more on the thought and workmanship we put into our hats.)
- And I also know that Beanie Designs hats last well because you’ve said so in the product reviews.
Here’s just a sampling of comments that show from the discerning parents and grandparents who buy our hats:
…Bought the pink one for my 2 year old last spring and she wore it all winter. Still looks like new…
…She has been able to wear it for over a year now, and it will last through this next winter as well…
…We have gotten 2 years out of it…
…Awesome quality and held up great for the winter…
…well-crafted hat that is worthy of keeping to pass on to the next generation… you are getting a high quality keepsake!
…my daughter wore it all last fall and winter…
…They held up very well in the washer…
…is both soft and durable…
So, if the hat your little one is wearing is starting to show the wear, why not invest in a Beanie Designs hat that he or she can wear now – and next winter, too? (Or for many more winters after that!) There’s plenty of cold left in February, right?