Here at Colhay’s, our goal is to create heirloom quality pieces that reflect the current styles and mindset of modern day. Generally speaking, we have noticed a trend towards casual clothing, even in office settings where formal wear was once compulsory. With this shift and the arrival of the colder weather in mind, we wanted to create something that would be warm and comfortable, yet still refined and suitable for professionals to wear to work.
The result is our Cashmere Painter’s Shawl Collar Cardigan. It’s a lightweight version of our Shawl Collar Cardigan, which is a chunky and cosy piece designed to be worn as outerwear. We’ve added a few subtle design tweaks too, that make it well-suited to being worn in place of a tailored jacket.
Firstly, the buttons. The buttoning point sits at the navel, the same place as a tailored jacket, emulating the flattering inverted v shape that you get on a tailored jacket where the shoulders are broadened and the waist is nipped in. We’ve chosen a mid-size button so they’re not too bold or brash. The buttons are made of Italian horn too which is the more luxury choice and, colour-wise, is easy to match with garments already in your wardrobe.
The cardigan has slanted side pockets, rather than patch pockets for a cleaner and sleeker look. We also find side pockets more comfortable to rest your hands in, which we felt was important if the cardigan was going to be worn for long periods of time at work.
The cardigan is available in three colours: navy, dark brown and ecru. Each is an elegant shade that is easy to style. This is so that by wearing this piece, you are able to look well-styled, whilst not standing out from the crowd, attracting the unwanted kind of attention. This also underpins our design philosophy generally – pieces that make the wearer look great with small features designed to flatter the wearer, making somebody look more elegant and polished, but without needing to aggressively solicit attention by for example, using colours that are too bright or garish.
Though we’ve intended this cardigan to have a professional feel, the name is inspired by something more casual. Artists in the 20th century - think Picasso and David Hockney - favoured the cardigan as a garment to wear whilst painting. The combination of sophistication and comfort meant it was perfect for wearing for long lengths of time, as well as being unrestrictive in terms of movements whilst painting.
As always here at Colhay’s we have taken inspiration from a traditional piece, and made subtle adjustments to enable the garment to become well-suited to the tastes and needs of people today.
With this piece we have opted for a slimmer fit than the traditional cardigan. For a fitted look, we have tapered the body of the cardigan from the chest down to the hem. This helps to avoid a baggy look when the cardigan is buttoned up. We have also made the armholes slightly higher which, again, gives a more fitted and sleek look, but the reduction is minimal so that movements aren’t restricted. It is a piece designed to be worn outdoors or indoors, allowing enough room in the arms and body for layering too.
The Finest Raw Materials
Raw materials are the very foundations of a product. If you don’t use quality raw materials, you cannot expect the end product to be of high quality too. We use yarn made by world renowned spinners, Todd and Duncan. Based in Scotland, they are experts in their field and have been producing yarn for the last 150 years.
Todd and Duncan source only the finest fibres to create their yarns. (We mean this both figuratively and literally.) The thinner the fibres, the longer lasting and stronger the yarn, and so Todd and Duncan use only the longest and the thinnest fibres in their production. To put this into context, the fibres used for the cashmere yarns that this cardigan is knitted with are approximately 15.5 microns wide and 38mm long. When you take lambswool fibres, they’re around 20 - 24 microns wide, so the difference is vast.
Even the best yarns are rendered pointless in the hands of someone with little knowledge of what to do with them. At Colhay’s we value craftsmanship and experience highly. When we began, we knew that we wanted to find knitters in Scotland, where we believe the very best knitwear is produced. The knitters we work with are based in Hawick, a Scottish town known specifically for its knitting industry.
Hawick’s knitting industry began back in the 18th century. Since then the craft has been handed down through the generations. We know that our knitters take great pride in their wealth of knowledge and experience, and we do too. Our knitters use several techniques that we know result in higher quality, more durable knitwear, which then translates into a longer lasting piece. These techniques have long since been abandoned by larger manufacturers in favour of fast production times but at Colhay’s, we know the difference they make and we value them highly.
For the best quality knitwear, we believe you need a trio of ingredients: the finest knitters, spinners and fibres. Behind all of our knitwear you’ll find all three elements. You can read more about these three key stages of knitwear production here.
Read more about our Cashmere Painter’s Shawl Collar Cardigan here.