Knitwear Know How: Types of Wool

Monday, 14 January 2019
Knitwear Know How: Types of Wool

All great knitwear stories start with a good yarn…

Cordings have always been trusted to create quality garments from our tweed jackets to our Mackintosh coats, and our knitwear collection is no different. Working with small makers and mills in Scotland, England and Wales using time honoured techniques, the seasonal and core ranges are created using a handful of natural yarns sourced from traditional spinners.

Here is a brief description of the different qualities and why we use them across our Ladies and Mens Knitwear collections.

Luxurious British lambswool jumpers in a variety of colours


Where does lambswool come from?

Sourced from a mill that has been spinning woollen yarns in Huddersfield since 1766, the quality of our lambswool jumper collection starts with using this superlative yarn. Lambswool is defined as the first shearing of a sheep, generally at 7 months old.

What makes lambswool unique?

This fibre is renowned for its resilience: soft, elastic and yet hard wearing it is naturally water repellent and has good insulating properties, characteristics that make it ideal for everyday use. It can be dyed in a myriad of colours, or blended to create heather hued ‘melange’ (meaning mixed) shades, each season we choose a range of colours to complement the seasonal tweeds, as well as offering the classic British country colours such as moss green, bordeaux and tartan green.

Merino wool mens knitted waistcoat


What is special about merino wool?

The Merino sheep is prized for the quality of its fleece, with a longer staple fibre than lambswool with a smaller diameter, making it possible to spin it into finer yarn. Our Merino garments are made specifically using Merino sheep wool – which is not always the case.

What does merino wool feel like?

Merino has a more luxurious handle than lambswool – it is softer, less ‘hairy’ and has a distinct lustre, although it is still reasonably robust, warm and hardwearing. At Cordings, Merino is used for ladieswear garments, fine mens jumpers as well as finer gauge knitted waistcoats and sweaters in the men’s collection, which team perfectly with our city suiting’s and lighter weight tweeds.

Green geelong wool jumper


What is geelong wool?

Geelong is a type of Merino yarn (see above) that comes from the largest of the Merino sheep. The yarn has a shorter staple length that Merino, but with a comparative small diameter. Unlike Merino, Geelong is carded and spun in such a way to create a loftier, bulkier yarn, but which retains a luxurious softness similar to cashmere.

At Cordings this is used extensively in the ladies collection, as well as in our men’s chunky roll necks and crew neck jumpers – creating a garment that is warm and superbly soft to the touch.

Women's possum wool jumper


What makes possum wool different to other wool?

Possum as a fibre is totally unique amongst wool based textile fabrics – it has a hollow core. The significance of this is twofold: firstly, the hollow core traps a tunnel of air that provides extra-ordinary warmth (up to 30% more than 100% wool garment), and it creates a light, lofty yarn that can be knitted into garments that are much lighter than their lambswool equivalent.

At Cordings this is blended with Merino wool and used in our ladieswear, each season we create a collection with a New Zealand based mill which is perennially popular; soft, stylish and uniquely practical – it is highly resistant to pilling and can be machine washed.

Womens cashmere knitwear poncho


What is cashmere wool?

Prized for its luxurious handle, this fibre comes from the Cashmere goat, native to Nepal, Mongolia and Kashmir.

Why is cashmere wool different to other sheep’s wool?

The length of the hair is much longer, and the diameter much smaller than any type of comparative sheep’s wool, which means it can be spun into exquisitely fine yarns. A firm favourite in the ladies collection, it is used in knitwear, as well as scarves and accessories, it is also found mixed with wool and silk within the men’s jacket collection.

How to Care for your Knitwear

Washing your Knitwear

With advances in textile technology, and with the wonders of modern washing machines, it is often the case that knitwear can be washed in a machine. But…. If you want to make sure your garment stays in tip top condition, hand washing it will definitely prolong its life.

The Best Way to Dry Knitwear and Avoid Pilling

Drying knitwear flat is imperative – putting damp knitwear on a hanger is a recipe for disaster. To remove moisture once you have washed it, roll your sweater up using a towel, and press down on it. Lambswool knitwear can ‘bobble’ (technically known as pilling) and this can be removed by carefully going over the surface with a razor – or again carefully, snipping the bobbles off with nail scissors.

Storing your Knitwear

Store knitwear folded – avoid the temptation to hang it, and use ‘moth balls’ to make sure hungry insects don’t devour your favourite jumper during the summer months.