November 02, 2022
The Knitwear Factory
A stripe cashmere jumper, the product that started By Merryn. I’ve always loved stripes, on their own, doubled up with more stripes, the more the merrier. Living in England, we have more days in the year that you need a jumper than not. Of course, there are plenty of stripe jumpers out there, but I couldn’t find one that cut the mustard. Not too heavy, not too thin, well made, manufactured in a place with a history of making great knitwear. Something that I could wear and wear and it would get better with age.
There is a centuries long heritage here in England of producing knitwear and that is where I focused my search. It’s important that we make our products in regions known for their craft and production in their specialism. After a very long hunt, I landed on our current factory. A small family run place, based in the heart of England, run by a man who is always around and present in his factory, close enough to everyday.
The manufacturing process used is called fully fashioned, this means each piece is knitted on the machine in the exact shape and size required for the given style and size and is then linked together. For a simple crew neck, we knit a front panel, back panel and two arms, all exactly the right size and shape to link together and form the jumper. Linking, put simply, is joining the arms to the jumper and the front and back together. Each “loop” of knitwear has to line up with the corresponding piece it’s joining with, making it an art form in itself. It is one of the lowest waste methods of production around. It is a wonderful way to produce and harnesses the skills of technicians that have honed their craft.
It is so important that our products are made well, that’s what turns an ordinary piece into something special, how it’s made. It affects how it looks but also how it feels and how it makes you feel. You want to slip it on and feel great and you want to reach for it time and time again. That’s why knowing who makes our pieces is important, so that there is an open dialogue, they can say, actually that’s not going to work. Or if you do that, it won’t last or it will look terrible. We go and visit with the technicians regularly, we chat about jumpers and also holidays, children, school or the best cake recipe. These are people who have learnt their skill from a family member or friend in the community, being passed down through generations. Sometimes we will sample a product and it will reach a particular point in the factory and a voice will pop up “I don’t think this part is going to work” someone with years of experience saying that we should find another way. That’s how great pieces are made, with trust, knowledge and communication.
This is just a small glimpse at how we make pieces that will feel as good as they look and only get better the more of life you live in them.