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I want a real sweater.

Doublegun

Practically Family
Messages
773
Location
Michigan
I am tired of wearing synthetic fleece for warmth, I want a serious wool sweater; One that's tough, meant to be worn outside, in the elements. One I can wear in the woods, on streams and where ever I may travel. I have all but given up on finding what I am looking for here in the states. I am tired of looking at sweaters that can't block out light, let along a slight breeze. (if I hold a sweater up and can see light through the weave it's not what I am looking for).

Hoping someone can point me in the direction of a real sweater. Thinking the British Isles, but I have no idea where to start looking.

Thanks,

JDG
 

Capesofwrath

Practically Family
Messages
780
Location
Somewhere on Earth
Guernseys are the toughest warmest sweaters you can buy. Tightly double knitted in oiled wool they are practically windproof and water resistant. From the Channel Island of Guernsey they are the original fishermen's and seamen's jumper. They also came from Jersey which is where that garment got its name from. Don't buy a cheaper sweater called a guernsey it it isn't made there.

I used to wear them all the time and because they are tight fitting you can get a motor cycle jacket on top easily. They are almost indestructible too and will wear and wash for decades. I've got Arran sweaters which are nice but not very hard wearing, but my guernseys are the ones I wear when it's snowing and blowing bitter cold easterlies like now.
 

de Stokesay

One of the Regulars
Messages
181
Location
The wilds of Western Canada
If you want a thick, dense, extremely warm, hand knit sweater in a vintage style that's made to be worn outdoors in bad weather, you could do much worse than a traditional Cowichan sweater. These are hand-knit by the Cowichan indians of Vancouver Island, Canada. They have been making very similar sweaters continually since the 1850s so these are definitely vintage, even the new ones.

I have had them since I was a lad in the 1970s and they have never let me down. Back then we referred to them as Siwash sweaters. There's no difference between them, but this might help broaden your search if you're interested. Keep in mind that these are not indoor sweaters as they are over 1/4" thick and are much too warm for indoor use.

Just to give you an idea, here is one website I came across that has some. http://www.hills.ca/cart.php?m=product_vendor_list&v=26

Good luck with your search.

de Stokesay
 

Mr Badger

Practically Family
Messages
545
Location
Somerset, UK
I second the Guernsey as a great, hard-wearing sweater – had several all through my childhood, thanks to our in-laws' visits to the Channel Islands. I can still remember the oiled, tightly-knit wool, which had a slightly rough surface but would keep the cold well at bay during the Winter, even when helping out on the farm...

...these days, I do go for the classic five-button wool US Army sweater, which is cheap, plentiful, layers very well and has a raised collar that offers extra wind protection – you can easily get them off Ebay for just a few bucks, but I also noticed that these French folks have 'em in different colours, plus submariner-type sweaters, and WWII Impressions do what appears to be a more period-correct version... here's the usual recent-ish version, although this one seems a mite more brown than green – BTW, make sure you get a wool one, as the most recent army issue has been polyester! :eeek:

US-GI-5-Button-Sweater-Brown-Army-350.jpg


Nowadays, I'm also a big fan of the Mary Maxim-pattern Cowichan which, again, can be had pretty cheaply on Ebay. They're hugely warm with a shirt underneath, and the range of designs is quite mind boggling – here's a blog post I wrote about 'em a few years ago... I've got one with a bowling design, another of the 'square dancers' variety, and a 'totem pole'... you just need to check the dimensions of each garment as they were home knits and the sizing's all over the place! :D

sweaters1.jpg


square_dance_sweater.jpg


bob_hope.jpg
 

lewisskimonster

Familiar Face
Messages
74
Location
seattle
Get yourself an Aran, or Carraig Donn sweater made in Ireland. I have bought a few from a guy who imports them from Ireland. He is located in New Jersey. His website is sweatershoppe.com
 

KyleK

One of the Regulars
Messages
172
Location
Philadelphia
I have the North Sea Expedition sweater (link to site above somewhere) and can attest to it's overall toughness and warmth. Unless it's snowing or raining, it makes a coat almost unecessary.

It's not unlike a heavyweight Filson sweater that I have - although it's at least five years old and their items may have changed somewhat in fabrication.

If anything they can be too warm, especially when wearing a t-shirt and button down underneath.

It's more in the modern fleece/activewear style, but I hear and read nothing but rave reviews from owners of Ibex wool sweaters/jackets. Worth a look if utility and function are of major importance. I'd own one, I think, if I could find a place that stocks XXL so I could try one on.
 

Capesofwrath

Practically Family
Messages
780
Location
Somewhere on Earth

Those Gansey's are basically Guernsey's by a slightly different name which itself is derived from Guernsey. I think all these fishing communities started wearing Channel Island and Breton type jumpers when they became more known. Particularly when the Royal Navy gave the cottagers of Guernsey the contract to supply them at the time of Nelson and they started to be made in the distinctive navy blue. They were made in undyed wool for a couple of centuries at least before that. The Arran wool industry and its tradition of knitting with designs peculiar to families for instance is a Victorian invention. Like many others too numerous to mention. They started knitting them to sell to Victorian tourists. Rather like the American Indian ones mentioned above it seems.

Next to a Guernsey for warmth is an old type RN deck jumper known wrongly as a submariner sweater. I've had genuine surplus ones in the past and bought one recently from the manufacturer who supplies lots of outlets which sell 'submariner sweaters' and who used to be one of the RN's suppliers. It's still made on the old machinery, has the proper reinforcing and it totally authentic. They also make the wooly pulley and supply armies and police forces world wide; and best of all it's cheaper to buy from them direct.

http://www.outdoorknitwear.com/
 

Doublegun

Practically Family
Messages
773
Location
Michigan
Thanks for the suggestions. I am somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned Aero. Anyone have experience with their sweaters? If they are of the same quality as their jackets I would think they are bomb-proof.
 

Doublegun

Practically Family
Messages
773
Location
Michigan
You might also consider some of the warm heavy wool shirts out there. Pendleton comes to mind, but there are others.

I have several wool shirts, including Woolrich and Pendleton. Unfortunately they don't product the weight/quality that made them famous.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
23,704
Location
London, UK
Thanks for the suggestions. I am somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned Aero. Anyone have experience with their sweaters? If they are of the same quality as their jackets I would think they are bomb-proof.

I've never heard a bad word about the quality of Aero's stuff. I have a great Harris Tweed cap (Failsworth brand) I bought from them, though I'd always also check and see if the same items are available cheaper from the original supplier. I think for the most part Aero's prices are pretty competitive like for like.
 

SHOWSOMECLASS

A-List Customer
Messages
441
Location
Des Moines, Iowa
What price for glory has a RAF submarine sweater which has been discussed on other threads. They also have a version of the WWII 5 button sweater. The sweaters both run $68.00. The WWII impressions 5 button sweater is $145 it has various weaving styles throughout, which look nice yet I am not sure how authentic. Most GI issue is very plain and functional. WWII's pattern may be a private purchase variation style.
 

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