Plain Sailing

November 11, 2022

It’s time for some nautical knitwear.

In the days before life personal flotation devices, guard rails, lifeboats and - well… health and safety generally, knitwear had to come up with its own safety features for those operating on the high seas. We’re not talking hi-tech solutions to maritime peril mind, something a bit more rudimentary than that. Like wearing stripes, in case you fell overboard in the dark. Needless to say, we hope you never find yourself relying on knitwear to be spotted at sea, but as well as looking fantastic it may make you easier to find the next time you’re trying to rendez-vous for a quick drink at a busy bar.

More stylish than an albatross round your neck.

Getting back to that fisherman-friendly jumper you asked for… You wanted a modern take on the classic Sailor’s Jumper, specifically one that:

- Doesn’t itch

- Has a nicely tailored fit

- Has durable buttons that actually look good

- Is knitted from a high-quality wool

Par for the coarse

A sleek, longer-fibre Merino wool is normally the ideal thing for smarter bits of knitwear, but for this, we needed something that could weather the perfect storm or just your average winter downpour. In the end, we opted for a shorter fibre French merino wool, taken from the Arles Merino breed of sheep.

The wool these cuddly creatures create is a little bit coarser and more textured than your usual Aussie Merino, but it’s never itchy or uncomfortable. And since French flocks tend to be a bit smaller than their chums Down Under, we worked with 18 different farming cooperatives to rustle up enough wool for these.

Très Français

France is the spiritual home of the Sailor’s Jumper, so it made sense to make ours here. In order to get our crazy dream afloat we enlisted the help of the second-to-none crew over at Jean Ruiz, in Roanne, near Lyon. If you want anyone aboard when you’re setting out on a challenging knitwear voyage, it’s these folk. They’ve been doing their thing for over 35 years and know how to steer the course when it comes to making tip-top knits.

Everything’s shipshape

We might sound like a broken record, but fit is everything. While traditional salty dog clobber tends to be at the roomier end of the scale - you need a good range of motion when you’re working the trawlers, after all - you asked us for a jumper that was more suited to a day trip along the coast than months at sea. You liked the neat, tailored fit of our recent jumpers, so we’ve recreated that here.

Button it, will ya?

What really distinguishes the Sailor’s Jumper is the button fastening at the shoulder. But when the buttons are the focal point, they’ve got to be good buttons. That means no plastic buttons that are likely to chip or crack. Instead, we’ve gone for Italian horn buttons from Uniesse, which look rather nice and are guaranteed to last. The jumper has a four-button fastening, with the last button reaching onto the collar. You only need to undo two buttons to get your head through. Unless of course, you have a particularly large head. No judgement here.

Oh sew rugged

You might have heard us talk about ‘fully fashioned knitwear’ before, which tends to create a sleeker, more refined result. It’s the method we usually opt for when we’re making jumpers, but it just didn’t feel right when it came to this one. Instead, we’ve gone for the ‘cut and sew’ option, which leaves us with a more rugged, chunkier jumper. Perfect for life at sea, but equally good for enjoying your flat white on a Saturday morning.

Call me Ishmael

Whilst we’ve carefully tweaked this garment to meet your needs, we wanted it to feel authentic. It has that nice dry feel that’s typical of real-deal seafaring jumpers. Imagine the sort of thing an old Cornish man playing the squeezebox would wear, brush off the crumbs and you’re basically there. Be warned: you might find yourself singing more shanties than you ever used to when you pop this pullover on.

Sailor's Jumper ahoy

The Sailor's Jumper came out top of all the items we put to you in our collection survey. No surprise to us that such a characterful piece, loved by landlubbers and salty dogs alike was head and shoulders above the others on your wish list.

So, the moment you've all been waiting for, preorders for the Sailor's jumper, start next Tuesday 10am (CET) with the first batch shipping around end of February.

Need to know anything else? Ask away via the comments below, or alternatively, you can check our international Instagram page for more info.


The Asphalte Team

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