Of all of the cherished items in my wardrobe, of which there are many, it is a well-loved camel knit that I hold closest to my heart. The jumper belonged to my 90-year-old grandmother who gave it to me some years ago. She had worn it when she was my age and had no need for it any longer and lucky for me it fitted like a glove.
The hand knitted piece has certainly seen better days but it has a softness and charm to it that can only come from years of wearing. There are a few darns here and there, but my Grannie is an excellent seamstress and they are neatly done. Winter in, winter out, this knit comes out again and again, and still delivers both in terms of how it looks and how it feels, physically and emotionally. In short, it is a prime example of an heirloom knit.
For me, this is why a good knit is worth investing in and even more importantly, worth looking after. If you choose well and if you care for it, it will care for you back season after season, year after year. It will provide you with comfort, warmth and security (and goodness knows we could do with a little more of that in this topsy turvy, throw away world that we live in!) Who knows, in 50 years time you could be passing it on to a grand-daughter!
What to look for in an heirloom knit:
When looking for an heirloom knit there are a few things to bear in mind. First is what is it made of? Cashmere is an obvious choice, for its warmth and its luxurious, lightweight softness. Lambswool is a tougher yarn that will last for many years. Meanwhile, Alpaca is naturally hypo-allergenic and has an elasticity to it which drapes beautifully on the body. Either way, natural fibres are always the way to go. Secondly, think about the colour - if you want something to truly last you are best to go for neutral colours that can be worn with anything. The majority of our heirloom knits are woven from naturally dyed wools - browns, beiges and greys. You can add pops of colour with your accessories or by layering over bright t-shirts but for the knit itself a neutral pallet often works best. Finally, think about the shape - we find that a loose-ish fit turtle neck or round neck cardigan will appeal to most women, whether they are 25 or 65. It is important to think long term!
How to care for your knitwear:
Once you've decided on your choice of a sweater (there's some help below with our top picks if you still need some guidance!), its longevity then all come down to how you care for it. We now live in a world that is obsessed with over-cleaning - in most cases don't need to was your knitwear as much as you are! Wool doesn't absorb odours and stains as much as synthetic materials so there is no rush to wash. Next, we recommend you handwash where possible. Soak the jumper in cold water before you start and then wash using a delicate detergent. Do not ring or twist the knit just squeeze gently and then lie flat to dry in order to maintain its shape. Pop it on a towel to absorb extra moisture. One last thing to remember with knitwear is to regularly de-bobble or comb. This will help remove stray hairs and bobbles so many knits are prone to. (Lambswool and alpaca less so!)
The Knit Picks