Balaclava in lambswool in dark navy

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Balaclava, hand-framed in the south-west of the British Isles, with geelong lambswool yarn.


The balaclava, being a mix of rib and plain-stitch of just the right shape and tension, fits any head within the species of Homo sapiens. Whether it suits them all is another matter.

This is a fairly chunky knitted balaclava: eight-ply in knit-speak. In other knit-speak, it is hand-framed. That is to say, made by a single skilful knitter, who controls with expertise quality and tension of the knit on an old, hand-operated contraption. Rare indeed, these days — especially in Britain.
It is mostly plain-stitch: good not only for navigating the tricky contours of chins, cheeks, and noses, but also among the most understated and thus stealthy of stitches (vital for a balaclava). There's rib-stitch here and there, too, such as at the face and neck openings, where grip is the order of the day.
The yarn is supremely fine, long-staple lambswool — ergo as soft as it is strong. And it is geelong lambswool, to be precise, which is the plushest of them all. It is spun in Scotland, and its cleaning and finishing involves today, as it has for centuries, the helpfully balanced waters of a local loch.
There are two colours of lambswool here: dark navy and darker navy. They're very close in hue, saturation, and lightness, these two colours, and are equally distributed throughout the knit. You thus get a good, satisfying melange — enough to keep the eye occupied, but not so much as to distract.
The balaclava is hand-linked together. No stitching or sewing here. None at all. Instead, each little knitting loop, of e.g. the crown and the rib rim, is linked to the next by knitting needle and hand. By hand. Painfully slow and skilful work that equals seamlessness and, all being equal, superior knitwear.
The balaclava really doesn't mind whether you wear it up or down. There is an excess of material at the front, see, so that it can be pulled down over the chin for those times when the wind and rain relent — but at the same time, a reassuring tightness when the thing is pulled up to cover everything but eyes.
Under-appreciated among outsiders to the world of balaclava is a balaclava's propensity to keep the neck warm. That's a hearty eight-ply of lambswool there, hugging the neck — and arguably more than that when the balaclava is worn down, and the layers of knit bunch up and roll over one another.

As worn

Him, here, has a head which the balaclava — size-agnostic as it is — very evidently fits.

Makers of

The 'clava is made by knitters in the south of Britain. Founded 100 years ago, they work with small, hand-operated contraptions overseen by one person — rather than huge, automated machines. It is perhaps the only maker to do so in Britain: slow going, but results bearing out the toil involved.