“What protects you from the cold also protects you from the heat.”
That’s what my grandfather used to say. He was a man of the past that I remember with affection wrapped in his pastel colored soft wool V-neck pullovers. When I was a child, I used to hug him tight to feel his warmth and his smell of softening talc.
The passion for wool pullovers runs in my family. Although for a few years I have not worn them because I thought I was allergic, today they are a cult item in my wardrobe, and I have many different colors. A black turtleneck one to be worn in several occasions, a sand-colored round-neck one that fits perfectly under the cashmere coat, a blue one for a touch of formality that never hurts, an orange one for foggy days, a forest green one when I do not feel like wearing other colors, a red one for the Christmas season and this V-neck “American college” style pullover to round off “The Washing Diary” project in collaboration with Miele. It has been a beautiful journey through the iconic garments that have marked the history of fashion, many stories with intertwined plots to unravel the secrets hidden in the folds of a garment or, why not, in the braid pattern of a pullover.


When we talk about this garment, the first name that is mentioned is that of Coco Chanel, who in 1916 designed suits with cardigans made of wool jersey, a fabric which at the time was mainly used for underwear (so comfortable, you might be thinking). The genius of Mademoiselle brought her to create her own style which, together with a shorter skirt with a simplified line, would become the prototype of the “Chanel suit”. Her merit was certainly that of having introduced wool clothing in the world of high-end fashion, but it was also thanks to designers Jean Patou and Elsa Schiaparelli, who created sportswear for the first time, making the beautiful wool pullovers called “Fair Isle” become popular in the 20s.


Fair Isle is a tiny island that belongs to the Shetland island group, in the northeast of Scotland. Less than sixty inhabitants, over an area of about seven square kilometers and an old knitting tradition that dates back to the 19th century, when the women of the island used to knit pullovers to protect their husbands from the cold , especially the sailors who traveled between Europe and America. Over time, the pullovers were also used for barter and the pattern became famous precisely around 1920, when King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, then Prince of Wales, wore a sport pullover with that famous pattern: diamonds, circles, and stylized graphic elements. A fashionable garment for almost a hundred years which we never get tired of seeing!


In Italy the career of Missoni spouses represents one of the great successes of fashion, managing to change, starting from the 50s, the conservative image of the knitwear in a kind of new art. Some of their designs have even been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, a great pride for our country.
The Missoni patterns are unmistakable and the unique colors of the garments are the result of an infinite series of steps, while the wave patterns are the result of complicated compositions made using multiple colors of variegated yarns. A well-deserved success created with love, a happy marriage, many smiles and a small workshop in the heart of Milan, which later became a large company with the unstoppable success of the ’60s.


Even the arrival of new designers including Sonia Rykiel brought a big breath of fresh air, in line with the revolution initiated by Coco Chanel, to create more and more knitted outfits and pullovers suitable for normal everyday life. Due to Rykiel, pullovers and cardigans, which in the past were simple informal everyday clothing, became fashionable in the 70s.


Wool is composed of several layers, and it retains heat especially well. Despite all wool types on the market (cashmere, angora, merino and mohair), sheep’s wool is the most common, which is obtained by shearing once or twice a year. It is an extraordinary fabric that has the power to warm up our hearts. For this reason, woollen garments should be treated with the utmost care and machine washed with a special detergent and with a program that replaces hand washing, without any risk.
Miele washing machines are equipped with a program for “Woollens” that, thanks to the unique honeycomb drum, can reach a spin speed of 1000 rpm without the risk of felting, indeed removing all residual moisture that are likely to ruin the wool over time.
The Miele “Woollens handcare” programme puts the shape back into the fibres so that your woollens regain their bounce, as in a real beauty treatment. Your pullover will come out still slightly damp and you will just have to lay it flat to finish drying at room temperature. Thanks to this project, I have realized that you can trust Miele technology, because with the exclusive patented Perfect Dry system, it detects the degree of residual moisture of your clothing and adjust the drying process also considering the presence of calcium in the water. This ensures a perfect drying with the utmost respect of your garments. Moreover, clothing made of wool can be ironed at a medium temperature (max. 2 points) and with steam.

When the winter season is over, and you’ll have to change your winter clothes for spring and summer ones, remember to protect your woolen garments from horrible moths that are so chic that feed on wool and cashmere, completely disdaining cotton and and synthetic fibers. First of all, remember to:
-put your clothing away only after washing them;
-clean your closet with a vacuum cleaner and disinfect the surfaces before putting you clothing away;
-air your room and don’t heat it too much because the moths also love heat;
-fill your closet and drawers with lavender or cedarwood essential oils;
-protect your clothing with bags for clothing.
One last tip before I go: did you know that you can make your rough woollen pullovers become soft by placing them in the freezer packed in a plastic bag? Try it to believe it!

A special thanks goes to Michele and Camilla for strongly believing in me and in this project. To all the staff and the friendly people who have made this possible. And a special credit again to Camilla, inexhaustible source of valuable information for the preparation of my articles. The Washing Diary is the new black…and will be back!

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