When my daughter moved an ocean away, and visits became limited to a couple of times a year, I began to feel a need to share something of myself, something loved, that could travel back across the ocean with her. Knowing that she was incorporating a little bit of me into her life, helped to bridge the geographical divide.
Luckily, we’ve always had similar tastes in clothing styles, so I think she’d agree that she’s gotten some pretty special treasures from Mom’s closet. During her last visit (way too long ago), I parted with my beloved hand-knit babaa cardigan from Spain. I knew she would appreciate its simplicity, as well as its super-soft feel, like a warm hug. I could imagine her throwing it on over sweats in the morning or layering it over a dress for work. I knew my sweater was enjoying a lovely new life. And, of course, I treated myself to a new sweater the following season.
If you’re not familiar with babaa, it is a collection of wool and cotton knitwear, all hand-knit in a family-run factory in Barcelona. Wool is sourced from local sheep, and lovingly shepherded by artisans in Northern Spain. Cotton is yarn grown, harvested and spun in Andalucia. Sustainability is their core value, and only local and natural materials are used, from buttons to yarn to packaging.
I thought I could not possibly love my babaa sweater more until I read about the company’s partnership with INLAND, a non-profit that focuses on supporting nomadic and pastoralist communities around the world.The babaa founders have an intimate connection with a tiny village in Spain where their grandparents lived, and where INLAND operates Shepherd’s School’s Camp for Youth.
Longing to wrap yourself in a cozy hand-knit sweater? Check out these European knit picks.
“We make it slow to make it last.” This is the motto of L’Envers, an independent French brand based in Spain. Its founder, Julie, has ancestors who opened a wool mill in northern France in 1820. If you are looking for a super soft and cuddly sweater, look no longer, because we found it for you. Say hi to LUCIE, a true cloud of comfort with its lovely oversized sleeves. It’s made of mohair spun in France, and knitted in family-owned ateliers in Spain.
The history of Wool House began in the interwar period in Lithuania, where the present-day owners’ grandparents founded a knitwear factory. The successful family business, which had been operating for many years, had to be closed during the Soviet era, but was reborn in 1988, and the family legacy continues. “Our core values — a high level of excellence, a focus on quality, and an appreciation of tradition — are as essential to us as they were at the beginning of our history,” write the owners. Tradition meets modernity in the organic merino wool Magma crewneck.
The Knitwit Stable
This short, wonderfully warm and soft cardigan is made of mohair wool from young Dutch goats. A unique property of this wool is that it does not itch. The yarn is GOTS-certified and dyed in Italy. “We work according to the made-to-order principle. This means that we will only start producing your item after you order,” states the website. So you can customize your selection!
Established by Lizzie Harrison in 2007, Antiform pushes the boundaries of ethical, sustainable design by using reclaimed materials and mixing fashion-forward shapes with heritage craft. Hand-framed in Cornwall by a master knitter, the Fisherman Knit sweater is made from a unique blend of 100 percent reclaimed wool, which is sourced from unwanted or excess yarns from a local factory. Antiform’s sweaters are not hand-knit in the traditional sense, but are rather made on hand-powered, multi-needle knitting machines.
Founded in 2004, Maiami is the product of Maike Dietrich’s passion for design and knitting. “Each of our hand knitted products is a representation of the time and care we invest in creating and delivering the most beautiful product we can.” We love the slight nod to the 80’s in this beautiful and cozy melange pullover.
Charlotte Riviere has a passion for wool. She opened her showroom on Rue Amelot nine years ago, and recently recounted many wonderful memories made there. Alas, she’s leaving her showroom for new adventures, but she’s not abandoning her knitting. “Just going to work green,” she says. The low-back kinski sweater is simply swoon-worthy.
&Daughter is a slow knitwear brand offering considered clothing for modern lifestyles. Created by expert makers in the UK & Ireland, using natural yarns, &Daughter values quality, usefulness and a less-but-better approach to consumption.Their “small batch” process means each section of a garment is knitted individually, hand-linked then hand-finished to achieve the finest possible execution.
The Knotty Ones
Unable to find a knit that was sustainable, had a contemporary feel and empowered people making it, the three best friends who founded The Knotty Ones, set out to create one themselves. Today their contemporary and sustainable designs are at the forefront of the slow-fashion movement.We love the Milda, named after the Lithuanian goddess of love and freedom. In Baltic folklore she’s often portrayed as a woman roaming around the sky in a carriage pulled by snow white doves. She looks after people who love each other no matter their looks, age, gender or social background. This knit is our take on what a modern day Milda would wear.