Where can I buy or commission Men's knitted clothing of exotic wools?
June 15, 2008 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Exotic wool and fibers: where can I buy or commission Men's knitted clothing of exotic wools and fibers?

Hi there,

I'm a man. A man that likes exotic wool knitwear or clothing such as sweaters, sportcoats, shirts, socks.

It is difficult finding clothing for men made vicuna, guanaco, yak, alpaca, llama, etc.

I stumbled upon a yak sweater which I really love.

1. Where can I find men's clothing made of the above, or other rare wools/fibers?
2. Where can I find artisans to commission custom knit sweaters and other items out of exotic wools and fibers?
posted by Ligament to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might want to try Etsy for a first stop. It's likely that there's a knitting/sewing community in your area, too - in my area, there's a place called HandMade that offers this sort of thing, and I'm sure the artisans do custom work; also you might want to stop by a high-end fabric or trim shop.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 12:03 PM on June 15, 2008

I meet all my merino needs at Icebreaker, a New Zealand company whose modern, well-styled sweaters and undergarments (you do not know true joy on a freezing cold day until you have worn merino longjohns!) are so awesome that I wore one of their sweaters EVERY DAY while living in Latvia this winter. They hold up really well and if you dry them on a line or a rack will look pretty much new.

Merino is machine washable (with Woolite, on delicate, but still easier than dry cleaning!) too! I've found mine at a few sporting goods shops around southern California, but you can buy online too.
posted by mdonley at 12:28 PM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Peruvian Connection has men's clothing made from alpaca wool.
posted by magicbus at 2:00 PM on June 15, 2008

Jacques Cartier Clothier makes some nice things (mostly traditional) out of qiviuk and qiviuk blends (qiviuk is the down fiber of the Arctic musk ox; the fibers are finer than those of cashmere but have a hollow shaft, making them incredibly efficient at trapping heat).

You might look into companies that import goods from Peru and other parts of South America for vicuna, guanaco, alpaca, and llama items. A search for "Peruvian knitwear" turns up lots of hits.

And finally, all the fibers you've mentioned are readily available as commercial knitting yarns. Head to a good store in your area and see if there's anyone who will take on commission work.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:02 PM on June 15, 2008

Stansborough - alpaca and a unique grey wool from their own stud of Gotland Pelt sheep. They sell woven fabric by the metre online, which you could take to your tailor.
You might also like to look into NZ possum fur. (Ours are the cute fluffy brown type, not the stringy grey rat-tailed type).
posted by Catch at 2:30 PM on June 15, 2008

Go to your nearest yarn/knitting shop and ask. I worked at one in Sydney and we had several local knitters "on the books" who were willing to knit for people. Your other option would be to see if there are any handknitting guilds in your area (try Google or the Yellow Pages) and send them a message to put in their next newsletter. There are lots of older ladies who don't have family members to knit for anymore, so they're usually willing to knit for a lot less than a professional (or an Etsy seller). Then it's just a matter of picking out yarn and a pattern. You may even be able to find some of your exotic yarns locally available - I know I've seen yak, llama, and alpaca in yarn stores. And once you find a good knitter that does quality work at a good price, HANG ON TO HIM/HER. I had one regular customer that was an older gentleman with an angora fetish (no, seriously), and he had his own knitter who had created literally hundreds of garments for him over the years.
posted by web-goddess at 2:31 PM on June 15, 2008

Aw, web-goddess beat me to it. Ask to put up an ad at your local yarn boutique (NOT Joann's or Michaels' or some other craft store... some place that sells the yarn you want to wear). Chances are they'd jump at the opportunity to sell sweater-sized batches of yarn to some productive knitter.

Chances are also good that there are lots of talented knitters with time on their hands and the need to feed their habits.

Some pointers:
- ask to see and feel a portfolio of objects they've made that feature the style (not necessarily the yarn) that you're looking for - cables, patterning, etc. Indications of a lazy (not to say shoddy) knitter: Look inside to make sure there aren't any loose ends longer than a half-inch. On the outside, pull slightly at the seams to see the stitching holding them together: these should go side-to-side every single row or so. If you can see more than two rows between side-stitches, that object is crappily put together no matter how beautiful the knitting.
- I'd offer a set fee above the price of the yarn (which is likely to be more than $150 by itself), never hourly, because all knitters knit at different rates.
- If you can stand looking through the knitting magazines at the knitting boutique, choose your own pattern.
- because knitters are notoriously finishing-averse (can we say UnFinishedObjects anyone?) set a time limit.
- pay upon fitting.
posted by GardenGal at 6:57 PM on June 15, 2008

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