Yeah, I’m guilty. Dream catalogs have always occupied my time during, but not limited to, the Christmas holidays. It started out with L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, Orvis … and now it’s Patagonia. Of course J. Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch became too trendy and therefore confusing and useless to me, but one can find good deals in the outlets even with those companies.
Can I afford to shop at any of these places? Not really. But they do have sales and sometimes I’m able to “get what I need.” And what do I seem to covet most? It’s comfortable, natural-fiber, quarter-zip sweaters.
A couple of years ago when I was working full-time I was able land myself (or get my wife to give to me) a cashmere quarter-zip sweater from Patagonia. It’s a good enough sweater but, like most cashmere it’s too thin. Also, it ended up getting holes in it too fast. Still, it’s not bad. I managed to get it for half price, under Web Specials. It’s lightweight but remarkably comfortable and warm.
This year, I wanted to try it again. But I heard Lands’ End was offering a superior grade cashmere sweater. Four Inner Mongolian goats combed once a year for each one of their cashmere sweaters, so the Lands’ End catalog says. Generously, my wife gifted me this year with a Lands’ End quarter-zip cashmere sweater. Is it thicker or better than the Patagonia? It seems a bit thicker. I like it … but something struck me…. It seems cashmere is expensive and very hard to obtain. Is it worth it? Who’s to say? All I know is even the best companies offering the fiber are pretty chinsy with the weight of the cloth, although I would say Patagonia and Lands’ End are probably the best outside of the super high-end suppliers.
Really, I’ve some to the conclusion that what I’m looking for is a natural-fiber quarter-zip sweater that doesn’t itch. The answer? Merino wool. I don’t need cashmere and I can’t afford it in the weight that I want it anyway. Merino wool on the other hand is much cheaper, much more widely available and it does everything for me practically that cashmere does. Here’s what I should have ordered from Patagonia: the All-Mountain. It would have saved us $40 at least and it’s got the heft!
One more thing. I found these marvelous-looking sweaters made in New Zealand made from forest fir and merino wool. They look great. I love the eco-minded idea! Anyone try them?
Oh, yeah, and I’m also giving this year, too. Tis the season.