A Brief History of Sweaters

The term sweater is American in derivation, originating in the 1890s when American sportsmen wore them to induce sweating, which presumably was thought to be healthy. Early sweaters were simply knitted shirts or those made from heavy woolen jersey (named as such because they were worn by sailors on the Isle of Jersey, one of the British Channel Islands). They were usually styled with either a stand-up edge around the neck, worn by cyclists, or, a bit later, a polo collar, worn by golfers. In the 1920s, they began calling them jumpers, and then, in the 1930s, the term pullover came into popular usage. At around this time, the garment that had usually been worn solely by men started to become an everyday item of clothing for women, who began wearing them instead of blouses. Concurrent with this trend, both knitting and crocheting became popular to become an everyday item of clothing for women, who began wearing them instead of blouses.

The elite classes in Victorian England were amongst the first Europeans to take notice of the luxurious feel of cashmere. Historically, since that time, the demand for cashmere has been high through feast, famine, war, and peace, perhaps because of its irresistible combination of low bulk and high loft. Even today, cashmere remains the warmest, softest, and most comfortable fabric money can buy.

Sweater Care and Cleaning

The better you care for your sweater, the longer it will last. We recommend that you avoid excessively cleaning your sweater, since that might lead to misshapenness and the breaking down of some materials. If given proper care, your wool sweater can last many years, and your cashmere sweater can last decades.

Follow the care instructions found on the tag attached to your sweater. Generally, cashmere sweaters will read, "Dry clean only," but if hand washing is recommended, do so very carefully in cold water with mild detergent, such as a baby shampoo or Ivory flakes. This method might keep your garment softer for longer, but it can also change the shape if not done properly. Let the garment soak in lukewarm water for 5 minutes. Then, gently squeeze the suds through the fibers and continue this light squeezing as you rinse the sweater in like squeezing as you rinse the sweater in lukewarm water. Be careful not to wring your sweater. Roll it in a towel and lay it flat to dry, blocking it into its desired shape. To help perk up the fibers, you can place the sweater inside out in a lingerie bag and put it in the dryer on a delicate, no heat setting.

Certain wools can be placed in the machine with a mild detergent on the gentlest cycle. After washing, reshape your sweater and lay it flat to dry. In the case of staining, rinse the stain immediately with cold water (since warm or hot water might set the stain). Ask your dry cleaner to treat the stain with special care.

Once dry, fold your sweater and store it flat. Some woven knits can be hung on padded hangers, although this generally is not recommended.

You might also choose to iron your sweater after hand washing. If so, set the iron to a very low heat and press lightly. If your sweater pills during wear, lightly run a razor over its surface. If it runs during wear, bring it to a knitwear expert for reweaving.

Long-Term Storage

So that the natural fibers can breathe, store your garment in a cardboard box, muslin or canvas bag, or acid-free tissue paper. This will help extend its life. We recommend that you clean your sweaters before storing them, since this will prevent moths from being attracted to them.

Since mothballs release toxic chemicals and can smell unpleasant, we recommend using the new anti-moth sprays. Cloves, lavender, rosemary, thyme, dried orange peel, and cedar chips also repel moths. Tie any of these items in a cloth sachet or handkerchief and place it near, although not directly on, the garment.

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