Friday, 11 December 2015
Peter Scott Camel Sweater
Cashmere is understood to have excellent properties for use in textiles; and used it is, perhaps to the point of ubiquity. It is light, strong and smooth. But there is good cashmere and poor cashmere, the stuff that bobbles and pulls and generally lets the side down.
It's worth considering the properties of other wools and hairs: Mohair is light, lustrous and smooth, and suitable for summer suiting; alpaca is light, soft and strong; pure camel hair is insulating, soft and comfortable yet hard-wearing, so excellent for coating (Minnis) and sweaters.
This is a very thick vintage camel hair sweater in two tone stripes from Peter Scott, and comes out every winter — never losing shape and giving unparalleled warmth. Close up you can see the downy fibrousness of the hair; it's very tactile. I feel somewhat like a cuddly teddy bear when I wear it, even though I am actually rather spiky and unapproachable — just like a camel.
As well as providing excellent fibres for our sweaters and coats, the querulous camel has a proud military history too. I've been reading up on the Imperial Camel Corps, a brigade of camel cavalrymen that fought in Egypt in the First World War. The camel was well suited to desert operations, being able to cover long distances and carry heavy loads. The brigade comprised troops from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and India with nearly 5000 camels that would form a column eight miles long. Imagine the noise. Stealth operations would have been entirely out of the question.