The presents have been opened, Christmas dinner is in the oven and I am proudly wearing my new Christmas jumper. This is a genuine Fair Isle jumper, made on Fair Isle itself where they have been producing knitwear to this sort of pattern for hundreds of years. It is said that it was the survivors of a Spanish Armada shipwreck in 1588 who taught the islanders these patterns but some say the styles of Aran, Shetland and Scandinavian style designs have been around for much longer than that.
Sweaters first became popular in the British Isles as long ago as the 17th century, worn by fishermen to give them an extra layer of warmth. A good example of this is the “Guernsey” jumper from the Channel Islands. During the Napoleonic Wars Nelson’s navy adopted what was called the “gansey” jumper as part of naval uniform. It was worn at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Meanwhile the cardigan was named after James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, whose troops were dressed in fur-trimmed, braided and knitted military jackets for the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean Wars.
At the moment the Scandinavian style sweater is in great demand in the UK owing to the success of the Danish TV show The Killing in which leading character Sarah Lund wears this sweater. The true Christmas sweater, however, is far more garish and this year is has experienced a resurgence in poularity, perhaps because it is a very cheerful and fun item of clothing. Reindeers, Santas and polar bears all feature in the designs. This year Ralph Lauren is selling a snowflake patterned turtleneck for £755/$1230. Celebrities including Kanye West, Cheryl Cole, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Matt Damon, Samantha Cameron and Snoop Dogg have all been pictured in various woollen improvisations on the Christmas jumper theme. And of course they are the must-have accessory for your pet…
Are you a fan of the Christmas sweater? Would you dress yourself or your dog/cat in one?