Laying on the lambswool

Noticed anything different about the place? That’s right — autumn is here. Slipped in unannounced last week. Hasn’t fully expressed itself yet, but will, sooner or later — and, once it does, you’ll know about it.

Unless, that is, you get into the habit of layering. The etymological origins of “layering” are somewhat vague, truth be told, but many believe its root derives from the old Saxon term for “cardigan with five buttons”. And, lo, here is a cardigan with five buttons — plus low break, knitted elbows, and lambswool-marl make-up — just in time for autumn.

The marl cardigan is so-called because it is a plain-stitch mixture of two complementary shades of wool. Navy-blue and midnight-blue in this instance.

The summer just gone heralded the introduction of the cotton cardigan — and all well and good it is, too. But, as any cardigan-connoisseur will tell you, lambwool really is the only way to go from September onwards. Like its breezy cotton forerunner, the new lambswool marl cardigan is hand-framed by a comfortingly humble and family-run knitwear firm in the south-west of the British Isles. The knits this place makes are, by any measure, “right up there” — if not at the very top. Hand-looming, as once waffled on about here, means that every cardigan is made by someone very skilfully, very slowly, knitting back and forth on a trusty old single-bed weaving contraption. Such is the toil that this hand-looming business entails, very few bother themselves with it anymore, but the qualities of it, up close, to the touch, are unmistakeable: it is luxury-grade stuff.

The cardigans are not only hand-framed; they’re fully-fashioned, too. Fully-fashioning is a funnily-named way of making knitwear which results in pleasingly neat and anatomical fits — which are quickly recognised once you try one of them on — rather the type of fit which might result from cobbling together any old cardigan body and sleeves.

The buttons — all five of them — are Midlands-made, four-hole, dark matte horn, with a slight indention in the middle.

There is more to the lambswool marl cardigan that its hand-framed and fully-fashioned nature. The fact it is made from a ludicrously high-grade lambswool, for one — making it soft, lightweight, and disarmingly warm. There’s the tuck-stitched elbows and seam-to-placket pockets, too, which give extra durability in the key areas. These matters and more besides are waffled on about in not-inconsiderable depth on the freshly published pages of the derby-grey and navy-midnight cardigans, shown on this page, from this very day.