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.
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?
A cheery hat that can perk up any chilly day, the green apple hat is gender-neutral and both fun and cozy for kids. Yacine at Beanie Designs was kind enough to send me one to review for the blog. Here my three-year-old son models the green apple hat for us.
The practical side of a green apple hat from Beanie Designs
Size hat reviewed: 3 – 10 years
My son’s age: 3 years and 3 months
My son is at the smallest range. But daddy put the hat on, too! It looks good worn a bit loose and also fitted. I’d say this hat should last your kid’s lifetime (unless he or she ends up with really big hair as a teenager).
The apple hat also can be rolled up when you want to wear it higher on the forehead and pulled down for more coverage on cooler days.
And of course it’s also available in red.
The feel-good factor
This sweet green apple hat design is knitted from organic cotton and exceptionally soft. It’s not a bit scratchy, as of course you wonder when it comes to knitted hats. I just wish you could reach out and feel for yourself how comfy cozy the knitted fabric is on this.
The darker green stem and leaves knit onto the top add a surprisingly adorable touch. The stem stands up a wee bit (not quite as much as in the product photo on the website, at least for us).
My son loves wearing it. He’s not one for drama, but the fact that the apple hat is a bit different definitely comes in handy when I’m trying to convince him to put a hat on when he goes outside to play.
When I asked him what he thought of the hat, he said:
“I like that hat. I like wearing it so much.”
And of course seeing his little green apple hat bobbing around in the back yard brings a big smile to this mom’s face.
For the most part, our knitters are people just like you and I. They have children and care about making the world a better place for them.
For many, knitting these hats for you provides a means to a livelihood that lets them work from home and spend more time with their children.
You can shop at Beanie Designs knowing confidently our hats are not produced in factories or sweatshops. We’re proud to be supporting WAHMs both here in the U.S. and overseas in China.
In China, we work with a British husband and wife team who are helping bring a good means of living to stay-at-home moms and dads. This helps those parents remain at home with their children, free from resorting to working long, taxing hours in a factory with unsanitary conditions. They earn a good wage and learn our specially created knitting techniques, also helping to increase their skills.
Many of our knitters are also located throughout the U.S., too. Over the years, the many women (and a few men!) who knit for us have become part of the Beanie Designs family.