Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Wool Sweaters / Jumpers

Bordeaux Cable Crew Neck provided by Cordings
Wool sweaters/ jumpers represent a wardrobe within a wardrobe.  For those who would rather invest in clothes than oil, sweaters are as much a staple as khakis and oxfords for at least six months out of the year.

The list of positive attributes of wool also continues to grow, from being sustainably harvested, to warm when wet, antibacterial, fire resistant, hypoallergencic (dust mites don't like wool, preferring the hot and humid environments more common in synthetics and down), moisture wicking, strong, and durable.  Current wool offerings have less of the scratchy properties associated with the wool of decades ago.  As with so many things, however, clever people have figured out ever new ways of mass producing cheaper versions of wool(ish) products, stripping away many of the positive properties, so high quality examples do make a difference.

The core categories of sweaters, ranging from formal to informal, and even from bulky outwear to thin second skin, does not change much from year to year, although vendors change, and some new additions are worth testing out.

Examples of categories and vendors include:

Aran

The traditional Aran Sweater (Irish Fisherman's Sweater) are thick, warm, soft, versatile, and incredibly good looking.  These classic garments also have that unique drape with patterns that look almost chiseled in.   They may be 100% knitted by hand in Ireland (with knitting needles and 100% non-itchy merino wool).

Aran sweaters that are authentically hand-knit are increasingly rare as they are so labor intensive; each sweater takes between forty and fifty hours to knit.  These are the most substantial of sweaters, very warm, very comfortable, and not as prone to the bagging found in machine made versions.

...Warm; bulky; absorbs dirt well; and made only in Ireland. If the sweater is overly tight fitting, it is probably not an authentic Aran.
  • Hand-knit by the ladies of Ireland's County Donegal and provided by Blarney Woollen Mills 








Cardigan

...An overly broad term that includes many varieties ranging from a dressier cold weather staple for women indoors, to an outdoor layer in cooler weather, to a more casual option for men.

  • Blarney's Men's Cardigans

  • Blarney's Women's Cardigans



  • Aran Cable Collar Cardigan 

  • Fisherman Links Stitch Cardigan

Shetland Crewneck Sweater, Plain or Cable, Best Made in the UK

...Somewhat less refined jersey than lambswool, slightly thicker and coarser,  but often worn in a similar fashion.

His and Hers Navy Shetland Crew Necks

Shaggy Dogs




Guernsey

The authentic Guernsey Jumper is comfortable to wear, exceptional at blocking wind, tightly woven and water resistant, and will last for decades.   Real Guernseys are only made on the English Channel Island of Guernsey.

From the Le Tricoteur site <http://www.guernseyjumpers.com/shop/?ItemId=36>:
The pieces of each Traditional Guernsey are machine knitted on 6 gauge flat bed knitting machines using English Worsted Wool. These pieces then go out to our Hand Knitters who work in their own homes, these ladies knit the raised shoulder seam which runs across the top of the shoulders and joins the two body pieces together, they then knit the neck around and up finishing up with a cast off stitch,effectively making the 2 body pieces and the neck one knitted piece of fabric with no seam.
This Le Tricoteur Guernsey is Three Decades Old
From the Le Tricoteur site <http://www.guernseyjumpers.com/shop/?ItemId=36>:
In the early 16th century licences were granted by the Crown to import wool from England , originally hand – knitted in one piece the Guernsey was a seamans garment designed to keep him warm and dry in all conditions,both Mary 1 and Elizabeth 1 owned articles of Guernsey Knitwear.Mary Queen of Scots wore Guernsey stockings to her execution. 
By the 19th century The Guernsey had become well known, Nelson had recommended the garment to the Admiralty as a valuable article of naval clothing...
This striped version is very popular with the yachties who visit the island.
Reader comment:
Thanks to this blog for introducing me to this remarkable garment, featured in the BBC's "History of the World in 100 Objects". Tough, water-resistant and warm, this sweater is ideal for when the weather gets rough. The Brigadier of the British 7th Armored Division commissioned hundreds of Guernseys in Khaki for the current generation of the famed 'Desert Rats' in Iraq. The Royal Tank Command wears them in Black. Of course, the Royal Navy favors the original color, worn by some of Admiral Nelson's crew at Trafalgar.
Guernsey Sweaters Arrive at the Royal Male <http://www.royalmale.com/> in a Potato Bag. Photograph sent by Royal Male; used with permission.
Reader comment:
Le Tricoteur isn't the only Guernsey sweater maker, but it is the most expensive, and not necessarily the best. On a recent two-week tour of Brittany, my wife and I made a day trip to Guernsey, just so we could buy the sweaters. Instead of Le Tricoteur, we opted to visit Guernsey Woolens <https://www.guernseywoollens.com/>. Their sweaters are made on the island, and much less expensive. Buying from the family-run factory (which is surprisingly small), we saved $ 25-30. The father and son who now run the business were extremely gracious. They spent a lot of time with us, and even gave us a tour. Because I had to have one sweater made, they delivered all of our sweaters (6 in total) to our hotel. When we stopped by Le Tricoteur later in the day, just to compare, we didn't receive the same treatment. If you want good-value, at a good price, I highly recommend Guernsey woolens.

Others 

Norwegian

...Not invented by L.L. Bean, merely imported; made only in Norway






F.L. Woods Sopwith

...A quite practical "second skin" garment.

In Forest

In Navy

Hillwalker and other Rib-Knit Sweaters and Jumpers - Made in Ireland

...For colder weather; thick and tightly woven, almost "spongy", and difficult to see light through the weave when held up.

Hillwalker





Lambswool Crew Necks and V-necks, Plain or Cable, Best Made in the UK

Lamsbwool jumpers (sweaters) are absolute wardrobe staples.  They not only go almost anywhere Tweed jackets or blazers are appropriate, but often enough go under them when it is a bit cooler.


It is easy to see why Cordings of Piccadilly is known for their perfectly made versions for Men.  Spun in Scotland of British lambswool, they come in an array of colors, in the crew neck shown here as well as in a v-neck.




Sweater samples sent by Le Tricoteur, Cordings, F.L. Woods, and Aran Sweater Market.

8 comments:

  1. The lovely sweaters make me look forward to fall, and I would love to find a pleated skirt like the one shown in the photo of the his and her navy sweaters.

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  2. I don't think a person can ever have too many navy blue sweaters.

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  3. I'm wondering whether the Cordings lambswool cable knits (note the saddle shoulder) are replacing the shetlands for autumn and winter. Their key supplier have closed over a year ago. However, Cordings has a much bigger range of knitwear, including cardigans, this year.

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  4. It's true, wool sweaters have come a long way. I have some vintage sweaters of my mother's, and I have pullovers from my school days. They are the 'good' variety and seem to be indestructible - we take care of them but not with any fuss. However, they don't hold a candle to the feel of the new merino wools, which can be worn directly next to the skin regardless of style and are divine. They do require TLC so I guess it's something of a trade-off.

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  5. Le Tricoteur isn't the only Guernsey sweater maker, but it is the most expensive, and not necessarily the best. On a recent two-week tour of Brittany, my wife and I made a day trip to Guernsey, just so we could buy the sweaters. Instead of Le Tricoteur, we opted to visit Guernsey Woolens (https://www.guernseywoollens.com/). Their sweaters are made on the island, and much less expensive. Buying from the family-run factory (which is surprisingly small), we saved $ 25-30. The father and son who now run the business were extremely gracious. They spent a lot of time with us, and even gave us a tour. Because I had to have one sweater made, they delivered all of our sweaters (6 in total) to our hotel. When we stopped by Le Tricoteur later in the day, just to compare, we didn't receive the same treatment. If you want good-value, at a good price, I highly recommend Guernsey woolens.

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    Replies
    1. I wholeheartedly concur with your recommendation of Guernsey Woollens, Anonymous 2:35am. They also custom made my sweater during a visit to their shop. Hope you had time on your day trip to Guernsey to visit Hauteville House, Victor Hugo's residence while in exile. The views of the English Channel from the upper floors of his home are amazing.

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  6. I am a truly great fan or every type of sweater, so I wear them also in the summer, I think a good sweater, a cable knit, argyle or just a classic model, especially on the tone of blue (love it!) are a perfect "accessory" for every preppy outfit, isn't it?

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