Sunday, March 23, 2014

The F.L. Woods Sopwith Sweater

Designed by and for sailors.
F.L. Woods - known as "the old wood box" - has been a Marblehead institution for 75 years.  (And they still have their original phone number.)  They have developed a unique, functional,  and wonderful new garment, the Sopwith Sweater.  To quote them:
Yachtsman & Aviation Pioneer Sir T.O.M. Sopwith - challenged the America's Cup with his J-class yachts Endeavour & Endeavour II
In 1936 he commissioned crew uniforms for the 1937 campaign, which included a jersey-knit wool sweater. 
Our Sopwith Sweater is modeled after the original now in a marine museum - it provides the same form & function as the original, with a sharp seafaring look and feel. A perfect layering companion to the Mariners Jacket.
It is made of oiled wool (80%), which means the natural protectant lanolin has been left in.   They have added to this 20% nylon, for shape retention, which has resulted in a tough, thin, non-fussy, but extremely lightweight Made-in-US garment.  It is cut for movement.


While designed to be a tighter fitting garment (as with the Guernsey), F. L. Woods sent this one which was deliberately sized up to a Unisex Medium .   

The F.L. Woods Buoy Patch

They refer to it as a great layering piece and they are right. Mithril, but navy.  
To the touch, the sweater feels somewhat like a lighter version of the original Norwegian fisherman sweater.  It is designed for hard use in "sea  spray" conditions. For sailors, this malleable, thinner, but no less tough sweater belongs next to the Guernsey.       

From our archives: Hanuman is a replica of the British J Class yacht Endeavour II, photographed at the 2012 America’s Cup World Series, Newport, Rhode Island.

18 comments:

LG said...

I do love that store and look forward to seeing the sweater in person.

Flo said...

I have to say that it looks like a very comfortable sweater! You will have to do a follow up post and let us know how you like it after wearing it for a while and if it holds up.

Anonymous said...

Nice sweater, and seems great if you're going to be out in very "splashy," cold conditions. Before I even saw the notation, I was thinking how it reminded me of the Guernsey. I love the slim look. --Holly in PA

Anonymous said...

Great find. This is why I like TDP!

WRJ said...

Looks and sounds great in all respects except that I prefer sweaters with a ribbed hem--though I assume there's some functional reason for this design of which I am ignorant, since Guernseys have a split hem.

Patsy said...

F.L. Woods is so worth the journey to Marblehead! Can't say enough good things about Wayne and his crew :)

Jim Clark sure has a eye for gorgeous boat design.

Joyce North said...

Great looking sweater! I'm interested in your comparison of this sweater to your Guernsey.

I've enjoyed seeing all the beautiful boat pictures recently. I know it's exciting to get ready for sailing weather. Some years ago, I spent time with friend in San Diego who sail every weekend. Also, on Wednesdays, it was the custom to go sailing after work. There were guys pulling off their ties as they got started in the Bay.

Another custom was a supply of small balloons on board. as there was a yellow rubber boat that zipped around the sailboats throwing water filled balloons at the sailors. It was great fun!

Anonymous said...

I also just got 30% off my new Barbour Beaufort at FL Woods 'Big Sale.' They're alwasysso nice and helpful there, even when my 3 year is wreaking havoc on the store.

snowysailor said...

The sweater is beautiful and so is the J class... I think I will take one of each, please!

Paul Connors said...

Sir. T.O.M. Sopwith was also the designer and builder of one of WW I's most legendary bi-plane fighters called the Sopwith Camel. Unlike other Allied fighters of its day which had inline engines, the Camel had a large radial engine with more than ample horsepower for its dera. In addition, its long wings and stubby fuselage and high HP to weight ratio allowed it to climb quickly and maneuver inside enemy aircraft with ease.

Sir Sopwith was truly an aviation pioneer and we know of him today because of this legendary early dogfighter.

Paul Connors said...

Sopwith Aviation Company was riven in bankruptcy post WW I by punitive anti-profiteering taxes. A couple of years later he re-entered aviation starting another company names after his chief engineer, Harry Hawker. That company became Hawker Siddeley - the company that manufactured the legendary Hawker Hurricane used by the RAF in the Battle of Britain. Hawker Siddeley continued to manufacture other aircraft for the RAF to include the Hawker Typhoon and the Sea Fury used by the Royal Navy from its aircraft carriers.

They later built jet aircraft for the Royal Navy.

Joyce North said...

Of course we all know the Sopwith Camel, because Snoopy pilots one!

Anonymous said...


Re Sir Sopwith - it's so interesting to read about those great pioneers of early aviation and how all those small companies developed such spectacular and legendary aircraft.Just after the war my dear pater worked on the second generation jets (after Sir Frank Whittle)for Vickers-Armstrongs, Ltd at South Marston. To this day, bless him, he still tries to keep up with all the very latest news re 'scram and ram jets' (whatever they are!). It's interesting because he's actually from a long line of Marine engineers - very much of a Seafaring and Merchant Marine background. I suspect it's really about an engineering heritage rather than it being a RAF v Navy thing.

Heather said...

I am new to your site and enjoy it very much. I appreciate your posts about American made products. I bookmarked the site and will be getting one of those sweaters for fall.

Anonymous said...

I've been eyeing this sweater, too.

I was wondering if this Sopwith was associated with the WWI era bi-plane. Does anyone know why the plane was called a Camel?

Cheers,
Gary

Anonymous said...

Thinking of summer, any recommendations for a great straw or wicker bag?

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a Coast Guard Woolly Bully.

Paul Connors said...

@ Anonymous: The Sopwith Camel was a derivative of the Sopwith PUP. I could find no explanation for the name and there are no hump-like features on the airframe that might imply that the name was warranted.