Feel-good knits of the summer

What you picture when you picture “summer wardrobe” is probably light and loose; nature-embracingly neutral or pastel, perhaps. What it isn’t, by any stretch of the reasonable imagination, is textured. Textured, that is, as in the superlative, describing the way a surface might dance in an endearing manner before or beneath the senses.

But back this year is knitwear hand-framed and hand-linked in the south-west of the British Isles with the express intent to teem with texture. Just as much texture, indeed, as the lambswool behemoths that rule the workshop in winter. It is tuck-stitched, then, just like its woollier big brothers. Not as heavy in ply, though, as you might expect, but making up for this with more shade variation within the yarn. Indeed, each of the new knitted articles — the polo shirt, cardigan, and maligned-by-connotation v-neck — are knitted with two shades of yarn, and both of those marbled yarns in their own right, such that using just one alone would invite more texture than most find feasible this time of year. 

Even better, the yarn is pre-twisted. And, so, as it is fed into one of the old-school domestic contraptions responsible for producing this knitwear, it takes a perfectly blended equal amount of each shade. What that means in some cases is a rolling ocean of deep blue hues, or a colour such as the “porridge” of the polo, which is only slightly less nourishing than the real thing. Same goes for the cardigan in “wicker”, which from any sort of distance is a textural odyssey akin to a hand-woven basket, but on the body feels as slinky as a spring.

Other things worth knowing? A little-known fact about the polo shirt is that the shoulder seam is pitched forward for softer line over the shoulder. The sleeve is lighter in weight, too, and a plain-stitch versus the bibbly-bobbly tuck of the body, to make wearing a jacket over the top that little bit easier. There’s also a split in the hem so it breaks cleanly over the hips. Running across the front of the cardigan, meanwhile, are pockets as large as pockets on a cardigan will or should ever get. They are tuck-stitch, whereas most other parts are plain-stitch. The elbow patches — yes, it has elbow patches — are also tuck-stitch, and rather than being sewn onto the sleeve are knitted seamlessly into the same knitted length, which is then linked by hand onto the body. And, if you’ve ever witnessed a pair of knitting-needles really going at it, you might appreciate the dexterity of such exertions.

There’s the v-neck, too, which — enduring though it does association with school-uniforms and half-hearted dress-down Fridays — also flaunts more bobbliness than you’d think sensible for a spring-summer garment. Like the polo and cardigan, its yarn is cotton — but cotton of unchartered softness. Superlatives besides soft are second-best, but spongey is another good one. It makes for knitwear with natural warmth, and comforting on cooler days, but light and springy enough to bring texture all summer through, too.