Cardigan in four-ply cashmere-cotton in night sky

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Buying

£420.00

Cardigan, hand-framed with cashmere-cotton yarn — two-thirds the former, one third the latter — in the south-west of the British Isles, and with horn buttons from the West Midlands.

Sizing

This version of the cardigan fits a full size smaller than the marked size. Best go one up, then, in almost all cases. The wooden man here, for instance — a standard 38 in the chest — has gone up to size M, and it is a perfect fit.

XS S M L XL
To fit chest 36 38 40 42 44
Pit-to-pit 19 20 21 22 23
Back length 26 26¼ 26½ 26¾ 27
Sleeve from   centre-back 31       31½       32       32½       33      

Caring

Cashmere loves water. It is one of the great truisms of knitwear. If you treat the cardigan to regular soaks — with the requisite cashmere-friendly detergent — then it'll get better with age. Pilling, by the way, is simply the shortest, softest fibres working their way to the surface: rather than being a sign of poor quality, it's an inevitability with all very soft fibres. Pick 'em off and, after a time, they'll cease to surface.

The cardigan here is four-ply, in knitwear speak, which in everyday language means it is substantial enough to have its uses all year round: with a t-shirt in summer, and sandwiched between other things in winter. It is hand-framed — i.e. made by a single skilled knitter, using a hand-operated device.
Across the front are pockets as large as pockets on a cardigan will be and perhaps should ever be. They are tuck-stitch, whereas most other parts are plain-stitch. The elbow patches — yes, elbow patches — are also tuck, and rather than being sewn on, are knitted seamlessly into the same knitted length.
The cardigan has a front of five horn buttons, which are middling in size, dark in colour, and matte in finish. Because each button is a thing of nature — rather than an ersatz replica — they are all unique, differing to lesser and greater degrees from one to the next in colour and shade and markings and so on.
The cardigan has a rather unusual "split-sleeve", with the front looking for all intents and purposes like a traditional in-set sleeve, but the back having the diagonal seam characteristic of a raglan sleeve. The best of both worlds is what this is, with the smart lines of the former and the comfort of the latter.
The hem and cuffs of are all rib-stitch, which keeps them nice and tight. The cuffs are turn-back — i.e. twice as long as usual, so they can be turned back on themselves. It is a nice thing to play around with — and useful, too, in that the sleeves can be shortened or lengthened at the behest of the wearer.
The cardigan is made with cashmere-cotton yarn. That's cashmere as in the softest — seriously, the very softest — fibres from the throat and belly of goats in the Gobi desert; and cotton as in Egyptian cotton of the very longest staple. It is pleasantly cool to the touch, feathery soft and slinky, yet durable.

As worn

The gent here is 6'1" and is wearing the cardigan, a little oversized by the looks of it, in size M. (This is a cotton version of the cardigan, please note, which fits true to size.) He has a chest size of 38", and there are reports — neither confirmed nor denied — that he weighs in just above 11 stone.
Another cardigan in cotton, exactly the same as the one above, but a different colour.

Makers of

The garment is hand-framed by a knitwear maker founded 100 years ago. They work with small, hand-operated machines overseen by one person, rather than automated machines, making them one of the last makers still to do so in Britain. It is slow going, but the results always bear out the work put in.
The horn buttons were cut, shaped, and polished by the last such factory in Britain (now defunct). It was part of a tradition in the Midlands first linked to the meat industry of the 18th century. "It is no easy task," said William Hutton in 1780, "to enumerate the infinite diversity of buttons made in Birmingham."