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Group Buy: Turtlenecks, Made in NYC

ballmouse

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Hello all!

I’ve frequented the forum for *looks at join date* nearly a decade now. While my post count probably isn’t the best indicator, I’d like to think I’ve learned a good deal of things from my time in the community: from the perfect shoe shine to the history of men’s fashion to bespoke items (and the number of suits required for the perfect fit). I think I sum up most members’ sentiments when I say that being a part of the SF community has brought about a heightened sense of appreciation for quality and the effort behind it.

That at one point manifested in acquiring vintage sweaters – think Ballantyne, McGeorge, Alan Paine, Drumohr, and other British brands from the mid 20th century. Those of you who own one will know how comfortably they wear and precious to own. Of course (like all clothes of the past) they are no longer produced the same, if at all. While sweaters are certainly still made in the British Isles, they aren’t quite the same. They feel a little too thin, a more slick than fluffy, and a tad baggy to boot. Not to mention most brands have given up the much cherished saddle shoulder for a set-in sleeve!

So I set out to do what any SFer with a little too much time would do – produce some of my own. To cut a long story short, I’ve worked with a local New York factory that would allow me to make sweaters to my own specifications: yarn, measurements, and all (most of the larger British factories will NOT do this). And best of all, they’d produce in small orders of 50 sweaters.

With Fok’s blessing, I wanted to inquire if any SFers would be interested in a group buy of turtlenecks, at cost.

I’ve already done some work with the factory to make a couple swatches and samples, and I have to say the combination of yarn and design I’ve settled on is very inspiring.


A couple differences in these turtlenecks; they are

  • a middle ground between the super chunky Eskimo type that’s floating around in contemporary fashion and the very thin cashmere turtlenecks the old school brands sell. Made with Superfine Grade Australian Merino Wool, you haven’t lived if you haven’t worn one of these as I’ve doubled the ply of these to give them a bit more heft. And absolutely no undergarment required. These are smooth and soft like the teddy bear of your dreams.

  • made in the USA – yarns from Maine and sweaters made from New York. I was shocked how few yarns can be sourced from the USA given nearly everyone had suggested I source from Italy or China. These yarns I plan to use are from Jagger (https://www.jaggeryarn.com/spun-yarns/superfine-merino-wool-yarn/). I made swatches from nearly all the yarns from them to decide on the Superfine Merino. And while I haven’t had a great experience with Merino wool before, it must be because of the different grades. These are very nice and arguably better than the vintage lambswool sweaters I own. They're even nicely water resistant.
  • A perfect neck length and width. I don’t know about you all, but the excessively long, loose neck that requires a second fold and still looks like a ladies sweater is positively annoying. As is the turtleneck that’s too short and exposes the ribbing underneath. I managed to tweak these just right.

  • Saddle shoulder of course. To me, it reduces the emphasis on the arms and brings it towards the torso. Maybe a bit nitpicky, but it seems to look a bit more balanced to me. This is something that once seemed common but appears to be a bit more of a rarity nowadays.

  • A bit shorter in length than your contemporary sweater. They won’t drag down to your seat like other sweaters. Instead they will snugly shape the waist.

Below is a quick photo of the latest sample. Please note we do plan on making tweaks. It came out a little larger than expected.
  • We want the chest to be true to size (so a size 40 measures 40 inches around chest). This one came out 2 inches larger.
  • The sleeve needs more tapering. I unfortunately missed this detail, but it’s apparent when compared to other sweaters.
  • The bottom (not pictured) needs a bit of cleaning up as well.
  • On the plus side, the saddle shoulder and neck seem very good.




Anyway, that’s probably a little too much jabbering. I wanted to float the idea to see if there’s enough interest. For now, if you are interested in funding a sweater for purchase please indicate it with a post and thread subscription. We'll keep you all posted on the progress.

Questions are welcome!



Some notes below:

When will the sweaters be ready to ship?

Based on my conversation with the factory, they’re booked until August. So I would say the sweaters would be ready by the end of the year.

What would be the cost to me?

The cost hasn’t been finalized as it depends on the final design. Right now, the estimate would be approximately $120 USD for a single turtleneck excluding shipping from New York.

What sizes are available?

Given we’re making an order with customized specs, all sizes (based on chest) are available.

What colors are available?

Again, I’m using yarn from https://www.jaggeryarn.com/spun-yarns/superfine-merino-wool-yarn/. As this is a custom order, any color there would be usable, pending availability from the vendor. I’ve made a scan (admittedly not that good) from the swatch book here which has a less 'digitized' look. In my opinion, ‘Navy’ is probably the best option, followed by ‘Mahogany and ‘Bottle Green’. If there’s enough interest I can get an updated scan.

The color I used for the photographed sample is ‘Admiral’. Note there is some unevenness in the color as I used a specified defected batch as I am more focused in getting the measurements right.
 
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nmprisons

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I don't own any turtlenecks.

I live in Houston and so probably will never wear one.

But I love that you're doing this.

So I'll take one.
 

ballmouse

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With NYC hunkered down in the face of COVID-19, I’ve been cooped up at home and remembered some footage I had recorded of the sweater factory from nearly a year ago. To my astonishment, there were a few steps in the sweater making process that were quite laborious but essentially invisible in the final product. (Forgive these amateur videos if you're used to more professional content; I had recorded these on my iPhone without much lighting.)




While a machine does create the basic panels of the sweater, it actually takes a great deal of set up and throughout the panel making process, essentially requiring someone to program the specs into a computer.


Anyway, I'm happy to answer any questions you all my have. Thank you to those who are interested!
 

Journeyman

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This looks great!

If we ever manage to attract enough people for the minimum order, I'm definitely happy to order a jumper.
 

ballmouse

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Is this still being offered?
Yep. I figured throwing this idea up right around the time the quarantine took effect was probably poor timing so I sort of let the thread die.

But with fall here maybe folks are more interested.

Everything still stands. If there's enough interest I'll get this thread updated with more details. I'm in the middle of getting another sample to update the specs (could potentially take a while with COVID affecting everything), but I'm not asking for deposits or anything yet so I hope that doesn't bother anyone.
 

masernaut

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Subbed. Unsure if I'm on the boat yet, as there are quite a few F/W drops I am looking forward to from a couple brands.
 

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