Christmas is fast approaching once again, along with all the festivities, cold weather and Christmas shopping. If you’re like me and prefer to get your Christmas shopping out of the way early, before the mad dash, then you might be thinking of gifts already. Even if your dreading the shop and trying to put it off to the last minute, it might be just be helpful to get some ideas. A great traditional Christmas gift idea is, of course, the sweater. Before you start getting horrible flashbacks of a garish white and red reindeer sweater with glitter and glow in the dark eyes, not all sweaters have to be a cherished but unwearable (outside of the Christmas season) gift. In fact there’s a wide range of sweaters, pullovers, cardigans, crew necks… the list goes on, that will look great and will keep your loved ones toasty warm this winter season. However, how do you pick the right sweater with so many styles and fabrics to choose from? We’ll go over some of the more popular choices to give you a good idea of what fabrics to look for when buying a sweater this Christmas.
Choosing Your Fabric
When you walk into a store, or are shopping online, you may not look at what the sweater is made of or what type of material it is. However, more than likely you’ll have a feel of the sweater to see what it feels like to give you an idea of what it would be like to wear and different materials can have a big impact on the comfort, weight and look. So instead of just going on feel alone, take the time to have a look at the label on the sweater and compare with these:
Probably the most common type of material a sweater will be made from and the one you’re most likely to see is Lambswool. Lambswool is named after the fact it is collected during the first shearing of a lamb. The great thing about lambswool over other materials is that the fibres are very short and soft which allows for a great insulating and breathable sweater that is extremely comfortable to wear. For this reason, the Lambswool jumper makes an excellent choice for the winter season.
- Fairly inexpensive
- Good insulator of heat
- Heavier than some other materials.
- Can be itchier than merino
Merino Wool Sweater
You may have heard of Merino wool before as it is a highly desirable type of wool that has seen a lot of popularity over time. Merino wool is ranked as one of the best wools in terms of quality (having been regarded as some of the softest and finest wool) and comes from the Merino sheep. Usually due to its desirability, the cost of a merino sweater is higher than its lambswool counterpart. Typically a merino sweater will be thinner, softer and more durable, although for the most part not as warm as a lambswool. So if you’re looking for something this Christmas a little bit lighter and a more all year round sweater, a merino might just be the best choice.
- Cooler than many other materials
- Less pilling (when small balls gather on your sweater from fabric wear)
- Very Soft
- More expensive than lambswool
- Heavier than cashmere
If you’re looking for something to bulk up (perhaps looking for a thick sweater for your children) then a cotton sweater tends to be the thickest material. However despite their relative thickness, they are actually cooler than wool. For this reason, some people feel that the relative weight to warmth isn’t a good trade-off for the material. If you’re looking for something that is a bit cooler on those warmer days then you could do worse than a cotton sweater.
- Cooler for warmer weather
- Easy to care for
- Can be worn almost any season
- Poor weight to warmth ratio
Cashmere, over the years has become synonymous with quality and can have the price tag to match. Coming from the Cashmere goat with long and fine hair, the relative scarcity has caused the price of cashmere to be higher than those other materials. You’ll have to keep an eye on the tags to see whether it’s a 100% cashmere sweater or a mixed blend which adds different properties. A cashmere sweater is not only warm but very light. Although a cashmere sweater might be a bit pricy for a Christmas gift, it makes a wonderful investment and something that they will love to wear.
- Great warmth to weight ratio
- Very light
- Soft and comfy to wear
- Doesn’t itch
- Expensive relative to other materials.
- Might be harder to find in a style you want
Fabric Mix Sweater
Sometimes you’ll come across a sweater that is a mixture of two or more different fabrics, such as a mixture of nylon and wool. The reason for this can be one of two things, either to reduce the cost or to improve the performance of the material by taking on board the properties of the added material. If you’re looking for a pure fabric sweater then make sure you look at the label, because even though it may say cashmere, it’s possible that it’s a mix.
- Positives from two types of materials.
- Cheaper than a pure material
- The fabric mix may not feel the same as a single type of material.
So do your loved ones a favour and forgo the tradition of horrible sweaters and pick out something they’ll really love!