March — September 2021

The car coat is designed to slink speedily over any reasonable under-attire — from sweaters to shirts to even suit jackets — and is made with cotton stay-wax, which is a mid-weight cotton from Scotland, heat-treated with a secret Scotch recipe of emulsified waxes, and therefore supreme at keeping out and away wind and rain.
The thinking here is that spring and summer are all very well, but finding good texture — texture requisite to elevate an outfit from good to excellent — is a trickier proposition than during the colder months of the year. What relief, then, for the world of fully fashioned and hand-framed knitwear, where highly caressable texture suitable for warmer times is not only achievable, but is achievable in tandem with a tailored fit. The v-neck here, for instance, is made with very soft cotton, knitted into a very open and airy tuck-stitch. It makes for a sweater which is lightweight, breathable, and if any more slinky one which would happily descend a flight of stairs end over end without aid.
A long and sweeping but lightweight coat is what the duster is — continuing in pared-back fashion a lineage of coats favoured by countryside-dwelling and horse-straddling types for a century or more. Most worthy of comment about it, perhaps — besides its length, so prodigious that it goes without comment — are the cape-like flaps which cover the shoulders and upper back, giving an extra layer against the rain, and suggesting to rain droplets in certain terms to widdle along and plosh off out of harm's way.
Behold cotton stay-wax, which is a mid-weight cotton treated with a mix of emulsified waxes (don't try it at home). It behaves like waxed cloth in wet weather, but is miraculously bone-dry to touch. Also like waxed cloth, from every fold and crease it gains a parchment-like patina of chalk marks, as they're sometimes called.
The smock — here in cotton panama (from Lancashire rather than Panama) — is a simple, all-purpose pullover, happy worn under an over-layer or not, or indeed over an under-layer or not. It's a versatile mid-layer, in other words, which has one foot in salty wind-battered maritime tradition and the other in landlubbin' everyday life.
Not quite "job interview" smart, this — unless it's the vacant workshop tea-boy position for which you're applying — but nevertheless about as sharp as things ever get around here. And not without pedigree, the get-up here, either. The SB jacket may be light, soft, and without structure, but it is made with a high-twist worsted cloth of the utmost quality, woven by a mill in Yorkshire with, give or take, two and a half centuries know-how. And as for the cotton t-shirt worn underneath — well, since you can these days count the number of hand-framed knitting factories in the British Isles on two fingers, it is a product of rare and precious expertise.
This isn't just any high-twist worsted. It is made with the wool of sheep native to the British Isles, ergo springy in the extreme, and is an open weave, ergo breathable. It is crisp and dry and is more coarse in texture than bog-standard suiting cloth. Great for travel, too, being as it has excellent fibre-strength and steadfastly refuses to crease.
The shopcoat, in the wrong hands — the hands of someone who likes to go on about their clothing, say — is a weapon of mass boredom. Avoid eye-contact or look the other way, cross the road if need be, or risk enduring lectures about lapped armholes, inverted collar construction, warmer pockets sinking inside deep bucket pockets in an unorthodox intersection of seams, and custom-made horn butcher's buttons. That's not even to mention the cotton-linen from which it is made, woven in Lancashire by a mill which has been on the same site for a century and a half, and whose specialism in upholstery cloth lends the coat a strikingly hefty quality.
You could never confuse your fore with your aft on this most nautical of knits, the boatneck. The former, you see, is a bumpy tuck-stitch about six-ply in weight, and the latter is an entirely flat plain-stitch of barely half that heft. Simple, see. Fore heavy, aft light — or is it stern and bow? Either way, it is all cotton, top to bottom.
There's exactly as much to the boatneck as meets the eye — which is quite a lot, in truth, and starts with that tuck-stitch chest, follows on to the smooth and soft dropped shoulder, skirts around next to the motion-giving side-panel gusset which runs via the underarms from hem to cuff, and ends at the hand-linked rolled neck.
The car coat, here in cotton stay-wax from Scotland, has what's been known for centuries in traditional coat-making circles as a Grand Old Duke of York collar. That is to say, it looks very good when it's up, and it looks very good when it's down, but it doesn't look much good only half-way up (when it's neither up nor down).
Tremendously earthy, this linen, but subtle in colour and smooth in finish, and so looking just the right side of smart. It is intended for jackets, rather than shirts, and is woven with long-staple, wet-spun yarn of the most high calibre in the heart of the region of Northern Ireland known commonly in olden days as Linenopolis.
This is a t-shirt from an alternative history of the t-shirt, where rather than from about 1950 racing to the bottom — becoming the basic of the wardrobe that bunks more often than not with socks and underpants — became instead a classic, enduring, and crowning measure of traditional knitting. It's that sort of t-shirt.
There's only one aspect of the pyjama top more unusual than its collar — think railway foreman on the Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil local routes circa 1972 — and that's the semi-raglan sleeve. The semi-raglan isn't the full raglan, as its name suggests, stopping short of the neck and nestling its seams into the shoulder.
Makes a mockery of it all, really, the smock. All that time developing collars and cuffs, weighing up vents versus pleats, worrying to the nth degree about button positioning — and the smock has none of it. Just doesn't bother. All it is is just a few panels of cloth, cut and sewn, ready to be plopped at a second's notice over the nearest bonce. It is for this reason, while the most easy-to-wear item at the workshop, also the least popular among its peers. Having said that, do note the very large pocket running right across its belly, right from one side to the other. It scoops down very slightly inside, this pocket, so that small personal effects can be stored without risk of ever plopping back out.
Linen suiting is, almost by definition, and certainly without much strenuous deduction, linen for suits. But you can also use it for shirts. And what you get is this sort of thing. It's a fairly elegant but also very robust shirt, which has a quality atypical of linen, namely that it gets better with age. It also creases much less than you'd expect — sanforisation and mercerisation and no doubt several other post-weaving -ations see to that — and what creases you do get are deep, heroic, lived-in creases rather than the sad and apologetic ones of linens run-of-the-mill.
Popovers have come a long way from their beginnings as potato-sacks with head-size holes taken out of them. This one, in linen from Northern Ireland, has a one-piece collar, which fans open about halfway up the chest, and which can be fastened with the help of two tiny buttons which gently cajole the two sides of the front together.
Among the notable aspects of the collar here is that it comes complete with an entire detachable jacket — front, back, sleeves, buttons, the whole lot. It is made possible thanks to some canny engineering, with the stationing of five buttons at regular intervals on the perimeter of the so-called collar-flange.
The sail-cloth from which the flight jacket is made is a heavy high-count canvas, with all the subtle bobbliness that such a high-performance weave entails. It has a weatherproof finish and is densely put together, so is excellent beyond words in the rain. It is also hard-wearing, and is very much in the "gets better slowly with age" category. Impressively rich and deep in colour, too: well done, the cloth-dyers.
This is the DB in cord from Lancashire, which at its front has precisely as many breasts as its name suggests, along with four buttons. Horn, all of them, the buttons, of which two are functional and two vestigial of times gone, when jacket symmetry was not only preferable but, in some home-counties, a legal obligation.
Cuffs, eh? The workshop is replete with many different varieties of cuff. Cuffs with pleats, with gussets, with buttons, with straps; cuffs covering other cuffs, cuffs with nothing at all. The cuffs here on the pyjama top have a split, to tempt the wearer into turning them back and flashing a bit of wrist — or, yes, a cuff.

Worn erstwhile

    • March — September 2021
      The debuts of the duster, the smock, the DB, and the knitted t-shirt make a mockery of the notion that less (clothing) is more in the warmer weeks of the year.
    • October 2020 — February 2021
      Many old-stagers from autumns and winters past — the duffle coat, the balmacaan, the peacoat, and the donkey jacket — made returns in refined form.
    • April — September 2020
      From the poolside (the popover) to the coast (the boatneck) via the railroad (the engineer) — the only way to travel (literally) during a pandemic lockdown.
    • September 2019 — March 2020
      The tielocken and peacoat found their feet in new heavy woollens from the south and north respectively, while the balaclava, gansey and cooks jacket made their debut.
    • March — August 2019
      The return of cotton airweave from east Lancashire, and a cloth from North Yorkshire that really puts the local into locally made two-ply tropical worsted.
    • November 2018 — February 2019
      The tielocken and parka joined the trench in the big-coats-with-belts aisle, while the bal returned in tweed from a mill whose loom was built by the local coffin-maker.
    • August — October 2018
      Weatherproof ripstop and tropical worsted, the debut of the field coat, and a cavalcade of cotton knits were the talk of the workshop in the warmer parts of 2018.
    • October 2017 — July 2018
      Heavyweight outerwear galore — with the old guard of trench coat, peacoat, duffle coat, and balmacaan, joined by the topcoat, donkey jacket, and flight jacket.
    • July — September 2017
      New textures for what are quaintly called the warmer months of the year — like a two-ply birdseye, replicating cloth of the 1920s, and a Flyweight flavour of Ventile.
    • September 2016 — June 2017
      Angora, peccary leather, melton, cotton and linen with some wool mixed in, even some blanketing — a melting of materials for an unusually warm end to the year.
    • April — August 2016
      Texture, let it be known, is a quality tricky to come by in the warmer months, here in the British Isles. But look — hopsacks, tuck-stitches, and herringbones galore.
    • September 2015 — March 2016
      The heavy Donegal tweed balmacaan made its debut, as did the heavy duffle coat and, indeed, the heavy fur-felt hat. Lots of heavy things, then, for the colder months.
    • March — August 2015
      New linens came to the forefront: linen from the south coast of Ireland; linen hand-woven in the Outer Hebrides; linen knitted into crewnecks and cardigans.
    • September 2014 — February 2015
      Cloth development came thick and fast: yarn-dyed Ventile at the start of the period, and tweed made with organic and heritage fleece in the Inner Hebrides at the close.
    • January — August 2014
      Along came the SB1 jacket in hand-woven indigo cotton, the link-stitch crewneck and cardigan, the porkpie Ventile cotton hat, and a brace of cottons from Lancashire.
    • September — December 2013
      The cotton-twill trench coat rounded the year off, but before that came the peacoat and SB3 in Donegal's finest, as well as lambswool knitwear both heavy and light.
    • January — August 2013
      The first half of the year began with the three-button Tetris tweed blazer and concluded with an assortment of corduroy and cotton numbers — plus some shorts.
    • August — December 2012
      Heavyweight tuck-stitch jumpers, the wool-tweed peacoat made with the one-man-mill, and the debut of both the reversible jacket and the Ventile mac.
    • December 2011 — June 2012
      Early spring was met by the British Millerain dry-wax and cashmere mac, and kept busy with the linen suit, new tour jacket, and two-button neat jacket.
    • August — November 2011
      The last few months of 2011 witnessed the release of the chalkstripe-wool seam overshirt, the hopsack tweed neat jacket, and the birdseye wool-cashmere blazer.
    • February — May 2011
      Spring and early summer saw linen semi-cutaway shirts, the horizontal cord blazer, panama stowaway overshirts, and the cycle-friendly brushed cotton tour jacket.
    • September 2010 — January 2011
      The work jacket made a first appearance in French navy cotton-twill and charcoal wool-cashmere. And, on the knitwear front, Shetland Isle moss-stitch jumpers.
    • May — August 2010
      Five mostly interchangeable garments were made over the middle months of the year: two semi-cutaway shirts, two cotton-drill trousers, and a corduroy overshirt.