Bringing together experienced design and expert craftsmanship, a rich heritage story and ecological and sustainable processes, from fleece to finished garment, Charl knitwear shows there is a slower, kinder side to fashion.
Our wool is very special because it carries the British wool certificate of origin, which ensures its quality, environmental and animal welfare standards and can be traced back through all processes from finished garment to the original flock it came from, so that when you receive your jumper it is ready to begin its own story with you.
Less than 20 knitwear brands actually carry the British wool certification. The frequently used phrase “spun in the UK” does not mean that the wool originates here. The vast majority of wool in the fashion industry comes from 1000’s of miles away in New Zealand which, once it has been shipped over to Europe to be spun, considerably adds to the carbon footprint of the garment.
By choosing British wool we are facilitating transparency in the production of our garments, supporting rare breeds of our native sheep and the livelihood of British farmers, making the most of local resources whilst preserving our textile industry which has been producing woollen yarn and cloth for over a thousand years (an example of this is the Ryland breed who were bred in the 12th century and their wool was used to weave fine woollen cloth.)
Wool is antibacterial, water resistant biodegradable and breathable (it helps regulate body temperature) It is extremely durable which means we can honestly say that our jumpers are made to last.
Natural Baby Alpaca yarn
Did you know that you can make 4-5 jumpers from one alpaca fleece? This is significantly more than any other wool producing animal. Like wool, it is sustainable, ecological, hard wearing, extremely soft, water resistant, warm and hypoallergenic. Alpacas are quiet, gentle animals who naturally live in herds which graze on the level heights of the Andes – which is where our alpaca yarn comes from. Baby Alpaca yarn is the term used to describe the first shearing of an alpaca and is the softest yarn, with a silk like sheen and a softness that comes close to cashmere. We use only the natural colours of the yarn – avoiding the dying process completely so we can say our jumpers were actually “born this colour”!
The alpaca yarn in our collections comes from a very well established mill in Peru, founded in 1965 and which pioneers research into sustainable farming methods and invests heavily in educating and supporting their local alpaca farmers. They also research into preserving the natural colours of the alpacas, ethical shearing processes and investing in housing and educational projects for the herders and local communities who live very high up in the Peruvian highlands.
All of the cashmere in our collection comes from the prestigious region of Inner Mongolia where breeding and grazing is extremely carefully monitored. Here the higher quality fleeces found on the white and paler haired goats are selected as they can be easily over-dyed as it this is the softest and palest fibre. Natural plant based dyes are used to colour this yarn – one of which, Weld has been used in this collection (“Russet Green” in the colour options).
We wanted to use this naturally dyed yarn as the plant dyes produce the most beautiful, delicate hues which naturally fade with time, creating an aged “patina” similar to a well loved pair of jeans, rather than using chemical dyes which are harsher in tone and potentially harmful to the local ecosystems, water supplies (and potentially not that great for the wearer either).
The other cashmere “colour” used in our collection is Cream which is actually the purest, un-dyed fleece of the most highly prized white cashmere goat. This fibre has been collected from animals which have been exclusively reared on a certified organic farm situated in Inner Mongolia and which is run by a family of shepherds who take care of their flock. The whole life cycle of the goats and their yarn can be traced in order to be able to carry the “Organic” certification.
These animals are allowed to graze freely in a vast area of farmstead. In order to maintain the “organic” certification for this yarn, the whole life cycle of the animals and landscape are constantly monitored so that the farmers can demonstrate the safe guarding of the place of origin of the cashmere). This means that not only are the animals carefully farmed and monitored but also the landscape is not over grazed and the welfare of the shepherds/farmers is ensured.
We work with two small scale knitting factories, one in London and the other in Perugia, Italy, whom I have known for many years and who are experts at producing high end knitwear to designer brands.
We produce limited edition production runs to ensure quality and zero wastage. Any leftover yarn is used to knit our beautiful hats.
All our garments are fully fashioned – meaning that they come off the knitting machines already shaped into the pattern pieces so no “off-cuts” and hand linked together by experts. The garments are then washed, pressed and checked over for any defects and measured to ensure they fit perfectly. The garments are then folded with unbleached tissue paper and sent to us to be stored using natural lavender moth protection. As both factories are within Europe and (one even in London) they have a much lighter carbon footprint.
Once you’ve ordered your garment, it is carefully folded in unbleached tissue paper, tied using ribbon made from recycled plastic bottles and packaged in our 100% natural recycled packaging ready to be sent to you! All of our tickets and care labels are made from recycled un-dyed card.
The Knit Studio
Is situated at the back of our house in my conservatory, brimming with plants, mood boards, my Brother knitting machine and vintage Singer sewing machine, not to mention shelves and shelves of research books and magazines. Everything is designed, researched and measured in here to a sound track of birdsong!
Wool cashmere and baby alpaca yarns are all antibacterial and need only occasional washing. This is better for the environment as washing uses up water and cleaning products but washing less also prolongs the life of you knitwear. You can hang a jumper up to air after several uses. When it does come to washing, the same advice is given for all three yarns in the collection; we recommend hand washing in warm or tepid water with an eco friendly hand-washing liquid. Leave the garment to soak in the warm, soapy water for 5-10 minutes then gently rub any dirty areas. Rinse in clean water then leave to drain for about 5 minutes then gently lie flat on a towel and roll up or lie flat on a clothes airer until dry. Lightly steam iron the garment on the reverse side without applying much pressure. Fold and store in your cupboard. I store my knitwear with natural lavender moth repellent sachets which are available to buy on-line.
Watch this space as I am currently trying out making my own sustainable hand wash soap powder –once I’m happy with the results I will share the recipe with you ..