Shawl cardigan in superfine lambswool in basalt grey

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£420.00 — ex VAT

Heavy cardigan, with double-layer collar, hand-framed and fully-fashioned with superfine lambswool in the south-west of the British Isles, and with horn buttons from the West Midlands.

Sizing

The shawl cardigan fits true to size, and so the mannequin (a standard 40) is wearing M, but for the louche and relaxed look associated readily with cardigans of this style, go up a size. The sleeves are meant to be turned back when worn — reflected in the measurements below.

XS S M L XL
To fit chest 36 38 40 42 44
Pit-to-pit 20 21 22 23 24
Back length 28½ 28¾ 29 29¼ 29½
Sleeve from centre-back 30½ 31 31½ 32 32½
The cardigan is, in knitwear speak, ten-ply. Preposterously thick is what this means, with its great weight apparent the moment it is beheld. Moreover, the collar — that great pythonic collar there — is a double layer of knit, which logically makes it twenty-ply, and akin thus to wearing an incredibly thick scarf.
The density of the shawl cardigan, comparable to heavy seafaring gear, does not come at the expense of comfort. See, it is made with superfine lambswool — 1/14 Nm, to be exact — and is cosy and comfortable to an incomparable extent. If one were prone to superlatives, it could be called sumptuous.
The cardigan is assembled by hand-linking — i.e. body and sleeve, or sleeve and cuff, are not stitched together. Instead, the tiny knitted loops of each section are joined, with a needle, by hand. Painfully slow work, as you might imagine, but the only way to achieve a soft and seamless finish.
It is hand-framed — i.e. made by a single knitter, who controls the quality and tension of the stitch on an old and hand-operated contraption, rather than a whizzing and thumping, entirely automated and utterly soulless behemoth. It brings an intangible, warm, and human quality to the knit.
The cardigan can make another boast in the world of luxury-grade knitwear bingo: it is fully fashioned. That is to say, the sleeve and body are individually shaped and engineered — just like a tailored jacket, say — to achieve the best shape. This is not ordinary; it demands knitting expertise of black-belt standard.
The construction of the cardigan is unusual. The sleeve and upper body is a single panel, and is attached to the lower body with a horizontal seam which runs across the chest. It's rather like a one-piece raglan sleeve, with a soft, smooth shoulder which follows the lines of the wearer.
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.
There are three shades of yarn at play here — three greys from quite light to very dark. The yarn is knitted into a tuck-stitch, which has a layered, textured appearance. It is dense, on the one hand, but springy and breathable on the other. And just look at it — marvellously textured, the tuck.

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."