A Cashmere Sweater for your Christmas Stroll

The Christmas Stroll issue of Review Nantucket Magazine is just out. It features the perfectimg_7155
Christmas gift – our Jessica Shawl Collar Cashmere Cardigan. This year the Nantucket Stroll is December 2-4. Check out the full schedule of events.

The Jessica Cardigan is a 6 ply super stylish and cozy sweater – a “must have” whether you’re doing the Nantucket Stroll, relaxing at the Alta lodge after a day on Alf’s High Rustler, or just enjoying a warm family holiday gathering at home. In Geranium Red, it’s always your best choice for a festive Holiday outfit.

Rita
Isle of Skye Cashmere

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The High Costs of Cheap Cashmere Sweaters

I started Isle of Skye Cashmere with a simple concept in mind: everyone ought to be able to buy the highest quality cashmere at a reasonable price.

The best cashmere sweaters –almost as a rule– are knit and hand-finished in Scotland, and the same Scottish mills that knit sweaters for Chanel and Hermes knit sweaters for Isle of Skye Cashmere.

This means that the cashmere sweaters at Isle of Skye Cashmere are as well made as any cashmere sweater you’ll find at Chanel.Rita Jones - Isle of Skye Cashmere

But it also means that through direct sourcing and low overheads, I’m able to offer cashmere sweaters of the highest quality at a reasonable price.

My experience shows that you’d be hard pressed to find sweaters made in Scotland priced more attractively than mine.

That being said, there are plenty of cashmere sweaters on the market today that are far less expensive than the cashmere sweaters I offer at Isle of Skye Cashmere.

But here’s the rub:  these lower cost cashmere sweaters –without exception– are mass produced for companies where standards of construction are lackluster at best.

Indeed, companies that mass-produce cashmere sweaters cut costs by making inferior products – cashmere sweaters that sag at the elbows, cashmere sweaters that pill, and cashmere sweaters that are knit at a low gauge.

More alarmingly, the workers that mass-produce these cashmere sweaters often earn only a few dollars per hour.

Conversely, knitters in Scotland –the knitters that knit for Isle of Skye Cashmere– earn a livable wage; they produce sustainable knitwear; and they adhere to environmental and labor regulations that are similar, if not more stringent, than those enforced in the United States.

In short, companies that mass-produce cashmere sweaters make compromises to achieve a lower cost that Isle of Skye Cashmere is not willing to make. The result of these compromises is a compromised, inferior product – a ‘mass-produced’ cashmere sweater in the worst sense of the word.

For mass-produced sweaters, the first area of compromise is often raw materials – the cashmere fibers.

In sourcing cashmere fibers, it’s true that you pay for what you get.

The best, most expensive fibers are thinner, softer and longer. They are therefore less likely to pill. They are also whiter (color purity when dying).

When mass-producers want to save money, they start with inferior fibers. These fibers are thicker, coarser, shorter, and therefore more likely to pill. They are also off-white (muddy dyed color).

Unfortunately, to the untrained eye, inferior cashmere fibers are extremely difficult to detect. Often, it’s only after wearing and cleaning the cashmere that you’ll notice the difference.

The low-quality fiber shows! The sweater looks and feels worn. It has lots of pilling. It’s not as soft as you would like it to be. Nor is it colorful and bright.

The second compromise mass-producers make: quality of construction – and here it’s easy to cut corners.

Scottish mills –the mills that knit sweaters for Chanel, Hermes, and Isle of Skye Cashmere– use a technique called “fully fashioning” when finishing sweaters.

During this process, individual pieces are linked together with cashmere yarn. And this is done by hand.

This process provides our cashmere sweaters a flexible, comfortable fit. It ensures that our sweaters will retain their shape.

Conversely, mass-producers often do anything but “fully fashion” their sweaters.

Mass-producers often sew sweaters together with machine and thread. This creates a less tailored, awkward fit. (Note: Another small area of compromise is the quality of buttons: Isle of Skye Cashmere uses mother of pearl buttons, whereas mass-producers often use plastic buttons, resulting in an inferior product.)

The third compromise mass-producers make: less cashmere in each cashmere sweater.

Mass producers do this by knitting at a lower gauge (density of knitting stitches).

The Scottish mills that knit for Chanel, Hermes, and Isle of Skye Cashmere knit 2-ply sweaters at 21-gauge. This gives each cashmere sweater a silky, soft drape.

Conversely, you’ll find inferior sweaters are often knit at 15-gauge. This saves money because the lower the gauge, the less cashmere.

Low gauge results in cashmere sweaters that are loose and gauzy. These cashmere sweaters lose shape over time. They bag at the shoulders and elbow.

The fourth compromise mass-producers always make: they knit cashmere sweaters in developing countries, often paying workers only a couple of dollars on the hour.

Isle of Skye Cashmere sources cashmere sweaters from Scotland – primarily from a family-owned company that pays skilled workers a living wage. Further, Scotland has environmental regulations similar, if not more stringent, to those in the US. The steps required to keep the water and air clean are costly.

Many developing countries fail to impose environmental regulations on mass-producers. Accordingly, there are few costs incurred to mitigate the impact of production processes on the environment.

It is an unfortunate reality, but a reality nonetheless.

So the next time you’re looking to buy a cashmere sweater, I hope you’ll keep the information above in mind.

Look at the label. Does it say “Made in China” or “Made in Scotland”?

I have no problem trying to save money on cashmere sweaters; but I do want to provide a clear and transparent alternative to consumers who value craftsmanship and lasting quality. I want to provide cashmere sweaters to consumers who are concerned about the impact of production on workers and the environment. (I have grandchildren!)

These are the values Isle of Skye Cashmere is all about.

Rita Jones
Founder and Owner – Isle of Skye Cashmere

 

Isle of Skye Cashmere Summertime Style

Rita – Lunch at Galley Beach Restaurant – Nantucket Cashmere Cardigan by Isle of Skye Cashmere
Rita – Lunch at Galley Beach Restaurant – Nantucket
Cashmere Cardigan by Isle of Skye Cashmere

Summertime…

And cashmere cardigans make living easy. For those cool nights on the Cape, nothing quite compares. Likewise with cashmere shawls: they’ll keep you comfortable, chic. Warm but never too warm, our sweaters and shawls –made with pure Scottish Cashmere– are perfect for those balmy island nights, for those late evening walks down shore. So say you’re fogged in on the Grey Lady –‘Sconset, Nantucket– or maybe you’ve gone out west –the Bay Area– to visit an ambitious, adventurous son (this August mine is married a year!): a sweater or shawl ensures you won’t miss out on Surfside clambakes, on late afternoon rambles through Golden Gate Park. Lightweight, whisper soft: Isle of Skye Cashmere is clothing to wear with any kind of weather – no matter the coast. It makes comfort and style easy; it gives shelter from the fog. Summertime with family and friends! If only things were always this good!

Cashmere Care 101

Rita-Place-Dauphine

Nothing quite compares to cashmere when it comes to style, not even cotton is so gentle on skin: wear it with jeans, wear it with a dress or slacks and you’ll feel wonderful – of course you’ll look fabulous! But any garment so versatile and comfortable requires a minimum of care. Whether it’s new shoes, a new cut or a twinset, special items deserve special attention. My customers want the best return on their investment, and to that end I’ve always provided instructions: with each sweater comes a note outlining proper care – how to wash it, how to store it, etc. But we all live such busy lives! Kids are off to college, dogs need vaccines and houses demand renovation! Cards get lost (where’s a set of instructions when you need it!), so I thought to publish my instructions here. A blog ensures they’re easy to access; it ensures your sweaters –thank heavens they’re timeless!– will keep for years.

The instructions that follow are simple, straightforward. Taken as a whole, they amount to just a little TLC.

After wearing three or four times:

  • Hand wash frequently. Avoid heavy soiling.
  • For best results, soak for five minutes in cool water with baby shampoo. (We recommend Johnson’s Baby Shampoo with Lavender Scent.)
  • Agitate gently when washing.
  • Rinse thoroughly in cool water until the water runs clean.
  • Squeeze gently to remove excess water. But don’t twist or wring out your sweater.
  • Block carefully into shape. Do not twist or ring the fabric.
  • Dry flat. Avoid direct heat or sunshine.

A note about pilling: A few small balls of fiber may form at the surface of your sweater after wearing the first few times. These balls, or “pills,” are caused by loose fiber tangling during wear. Pills can easily be removed by hand.

A note about moths: they love cashmere! We suggest that you keep your sweater in a storage bag to protect it.

Finally, proper care will ensure your sweater lasts for years! I’ve even found my sweaters’ softness to improve following the instructions above. I know! It’s hard to believe! But you’ll find your sweater’s quality gets better and better.

Store Sale for 2 Days only : Sept 30 – Oct 1

Dear Friends:Rita

As many of you know, I have closed the Isle of Skye Retail Store while I continue my rehabilitation for my broken femur. My surgeons have told me it will take a full year to rehab, and I take them at their word.

During this time, I continue to have the Isle of Skye Cashmere website open.

I know my Cincinnati customers prefer to come to the store, so I have decided to open for my valued customers. My store will be open for a Special Sale , Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1 from 11am – 5:30pm. All Isle of Skye Cashmere sweaters will be on sale at 40% off. My other merchandise will be on sale at 50% off.

This will be a great opportunity to stock up on Christmas gifts!

In addition, I have invited ThRedheads and Girl with Pearl ( from
Cleveland) to join in this sale.

ThRedHeads offers “Men’s formalwear with Flair. Tux shirts with a
Twist and gorgeous cumberbund sets.” All ThRedHeads merchandise will be on sale at 35% off.

Girl with Pearl offers “Luxe pearls, pendants, gemstones, lizard
purses, buckles and more.” All Girl with Pearl merchandise will be on sale at 35% off.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone! I miss you all!

Rita Jones

Isle of Skye Cashmere
7801 Laurel Ave.
Cincinnati OH 45243

It Starts Today: Help Every Child Succeed in Cincinnati!

This is a reminder that  Isle of Skye Cashmere begins our in-store fundraising week for Every Child Succeeds today, Saturday, December 3. We will continue from Tuesday December 6 to Saturday December 10. Store hours are 10am to 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Saturday, we close at 4pm. 20% of all our store sales during this time will be donated to Every Child Succeeds.

Over the last 5 years, with the help of loyal customers, I have raised over $60,000 for Every Child Succeeds. With the pressure on our state budget this year, ECS needs support from the private community more than ever. I support Every Child Succeeds because I believe that helping to save a child is the best holiday gift that we can give.

Callie Cashmere SweaterLook Good!

Isle of Skye Cashmere specializes in fine Scottish and Italian Cashmere clothing…sweaters, jackets, and scarves. The photo on the left is our Callie Cashmere Cardigan, knit exclusively for us in Scotland. We have other items that make great holiday gifts.

Do Good!

20% of all store sales this week goes to Every Child Succeeds, a Children’s Hospital Program that delivers vital services to children of at-risk, first time moms. These moms are typically unmarried, low income, and have no access to prenatal care. Their children are at high risk for poor health, delayed learning and social development, neglect, and abuse.ECS has proved it helps save at-risk children by lowering infant mortality, creating safe and healthy home environments, and delivering normal learning, language and social development for over 90% of the children in the program.

$250 Gift Cards!

We’re giving away two $250 gift cards at the end of the week.  Just stop by the store to register!

Please come by Isle of Skye Cashmere this week, and help in my support of Every Child Succeeds! I hope to see you.

Rita Jones

Isle of Skye Cashmere
7801 Laurel Ave
Cincinnati OH 45243
513-271-2589