I make no secret of the fact that I love my knitwear, and find myself wearing it pretty much all winter. Good quality knitwear is worth the investment and should last you for years. But before you going spending money on new knitwear it’s important to know a little about what you are buying. I’ve put together this brief guide to knitwear to help you out.
A good cashmere jumper is an ultimate luxury when it comes to knitwear. Cashmere wool comes from the hair of the Cashmere goat, normally found in Mongolia. Cashmere wool is warm, soft, strong and lightweight making it ideal for knitwear. A good quality cashmere garment will last you for years if you take care of it. However, you should expect to pay around £200 for quality cashmere. Anything costing less is likely to be low-quality yarn and not worth the investment. When buying cashmere make sure you can feel the product in person, watch out for heavy pilling (pilling is common in cashmere but don’t buy it if it has pilling before being worn), don’t buy if the wool has a slippery feeling and don’t buy anything less than 2 pile. Cashmere can be difficult to take care off as you have to hand wash it and it tends to pill and attract moths.
Sheep’s wool is commonly used in knitwear and is a cheaper alternative to cashmere. If you like the soft feel of cashmere, look for lambswool knits as they are super soft. Lambswool comes from the first shearing of a sheep and is much softer than later shearings. Like Cashmere, Lambswool can be tricky to care for and has to be hand washed. Natural wool tends to be very warm, can absorb moisture and is breathable. Look out for wool/cashmere blends for an easy care alternative to 100% cashmere. When buying wool/synthetic blends always ensure you have at least 30% wool, anything less won’t be very warm (if buying a coat look for at least 75% wool).
Merino wool comes from the Merino sheep and if commonly from Australia or New Zealand. Merino wool is super soft and thin like cashmere, however, it is much cheaper to buy. It tends to be much less scratchy than other types of sheep’s wool making it ideal for anyone with sensitive skin. It’s very warm and stays warm when wet, it is also naturally antimicrobial which means it deters bacteria and odours. Merino wool is also a very lightweight wool, meaning you can get thinner garments from it. You’ll find a lot of base layers are made from Merino wool. However, there are quite a few issues around cruelty in the production of Merino wool. I won’t go into detail here as you can Google it if you’re interested.
Like wool cotton is a natural fibre, meaning it is soft and breathable. Cotton is also really comfortable to wear and won’t irritate your skin like some wools can. However cotton isn’t as warm as the wool can isn’t good for wearing in the winter. However, if you’re looking for something lightweight for sitting in centrally heated building a cotton jumper could be ideal. Cotton is also super easy to take care off as you can throw it in the washing machine and dryer.
An acrylic is a man made fibre designed to recreate wool. As it’s man made Acrylic isn’t as warm as natural wool (however should be warmer than cotton) however, it also doesn’t have the scratchy feel of wool and can be super soft. Acrylic is also much more affordable than natural materials, making it ideal if you’re on a budget. If you do buy Acrylic knits, you’ll find they don’t last as long as woollen knits, however, they are much easier to take care off and can often be machine washed.
Caring for Your Knits
- Store flat. You should avoid hanging your knits (I admit I’m guilty of this) as hanging can distort the shape of your garment. Fold them flat to store and keep them in a cool, dry place. Use cedar balls to prevent moths.
- You may notice some bobbling or pilling on your knits. These can be removed easily using a bobble remover. Bobbling is common where the fabric rubs together, watch out for it at the underarms and sides.
- New knits tend to shed hairs the first few times you wear them. These little hairs can transfer onto other garments. Run a lint remover over your knit the first few times you wear it to prevent any transfer.
- Take care when washing your knits. Always read the label for the washing instructions. If you can machine wash, use a gentle (wool or hand wash) setting and don’t spin. If in doubt, hand wash using a mild detergent (look out for wool detergents), use a towel to soak up excess water. Never twist or wring your knitwear
- When drying always dry knits flat. Leave them to dry naturally away from direct heat and only put away once completely dry. Never put your knits in the tumble dryer.