Berets are not cut out of a sheet of cloth and then shaped. They are actually knitted one at a time on knitting looms.
Traditionally, berets were closed by hand, stitch by stitch, a job that is now done directly on the knitting loom.

This round piece of knitting is then felted i.e. mechanically worked in a water solution by milling machines (the shepherds used to use a washing mill). The wool, and the beret’s diameter, shrinks as the knitting becomes thicker.

Once turned into felt, the berets are dyed in large vats then individually dried on round moults which determine their final size.


The beret is first combed (originally with thistles) then shorn to discard unwanted strands. It is this combing/shearing operation which gives berets their special feel and texture.

The beret may then be lined, embroidered or flocked and fitted with a leather headband, a badge or ribbon, etc. All of these are finishing touches.

Photographs: Beatex-Laulhere