Watch cap in Donegal merino lambswool in barley

Prices exclude VAT, shipping is free, and orders leave the workshop within three working days.


£120.00 — ex VAT

Knitted hat, hand-framed with Donegal merino wool — ostensibly barley, but with so much more besides — in the south-west of the British Isles.


The watch cap, being a thing mostly of rib, is suited well to crania of every size and shape.

This is a chunky knitted watch cap: eight-ply in knit-speak. In other knit-speak, it is hand-framed. That is to say, made by a single skilful knitter, who carefully controls with quality and tension of the knit on an old, hand-operated contraption. Rare indeed, these days — especially in Britain.
The crown of the cap is tuck-stitch, which is the undisputed champion, at least in these parts, of heartily textured knitwear. It is also a dense stitch, with the strands of yarn folded up and over each other, and so helps keep in the heat. The rest of the cap is rib-stitch: king of reassuring head-clamping reliability.
The yarn is soft merino lambswool — 1/3.8 Nm, to be exact. It is plush and buoyant, with a soft and dry hand, and is spun in County Donegal in Ireland using traditional regional techniques refined over a couple of centuries — notably being riddled this way and that with neps and burrs of colour.
One final knitwear term: it is hand-linked together. There is no stitching here. None at all. Instead, each little knitting loop, of e.g. the tuck 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 merino wool is Donegal writ through. It has a base colour of mid-beige, sure, but is alive with nuggets of unexpected colours, from chalk to biscuit to auburn. So, while from afar it seems a dappled but solid colour, up close the eye is lost in manifold commingling hues, bringing variety and contrast to the knit.

As worn

The young man here, who has a head of resoundingly average size, is wearing the cap and the cap fits him just fine. But were his head much bigger, or much smaller, it'd make very little difference: fits everyone, the knitted watch cap.
Same cap, same man, and crucially (especially for the man) the same head.
Same head, one year older and wiser.

Makers of

The hat 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.

So they say

Watch cap well received today: it is so B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. And I’ve already tested it in the wet and cold Belgian weather. Thanks again for your kindness and availability, and I hope I’ll get a next piece of your collection soon.

Warm words from a warm young Belgian in early December 2020.

The watch cap has been on a heavy duty rotation during this cold January in Montreal. I just wanted to drop you a note to say how deeply pleased I am with it. The cap is truly the archetype of knitwear, and it brings me great joy to wear it each day. As with all your pieces, it has a magic quality that I can’t quite figure out, and I can't wait to pick up something else from you hopefully in the near future.

A merry man from Montreal, owner of a watch cap in lambswool tuck, in January 2020.

I've just picked up the hat, and have tried it on. It is absolutely lovely! Fits perfectly and almost obscenely soft.

So spoke an Englishman in Finland — his watch cap a geelong lambswool one — in February 2018.