Cosy in Armadillo Merino
The new favourite items in my wardrobe may not be the most elegant of garments, but, boy, do they do the job they are meant to do. Since the miserable weather descended on even my usually balmy bit of Kent in November, I have been getting a lot of wear out of a vest and socks that were delivered to me courtesy of Armadillo Merino.
The oddly-named brand is the first product from the Ministry of Wool, a company set up by Andy Caughey, a New Zealander who was raised on a sheep farm and for a spell was MD of the venerable British knitwear firm of John Smedley. Like Smedley, Ministry of Wool, is based in Derbyshire, although the Armadillo Merino garments are manufactured in Italy. The USP of the collection is that merino wool is a fine fibre – in all senses of the word – to wear next to the body. The website is packed with info on the history of merino wool and technical details on its performance characteristics.
The yarns used are spun from ZQ™ certified merino, which is – and I quote – “an annually renewable fibre renowned for its softness and fineness and grown high in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. The ZQ™ accreditation programme guarantees the consistent high quality of the merino wool (used). It also ensures environmental, social and economic sustainability, animal welfare and traceability” .
As Andy explains it, “Armadillo Merino specialises in next-to-skin protective clothing that utilises the unique properties of merino wool. The garments are constructed for demanding environments using a range of merino performance fabrics that deliver superior protection, performance and comfort to wearers. We engage with professional risk takers throughout the world in occupations such as military, police, fire, ambulance, search & rescue, heavy industry and other outdoor professions.”
My major outdoor profession is walking the dog but I just love my “Python” top, which is, apparently, “the highest performing baselayer garment in the world. By spinning superfine merino fibre into a compact yarn, Armadillo Merino has achieved a new level of durability and strength in a fabric with an incredibly smooth feel. Python has an athletic fit, designed to look great worn solo or as a base layer”.
Given my figure, I’ll stick to using it as a base layer. I really like the cut, especially the clever angled seams, and I applaud the fact that the brand label is placed discreetly on the hem at the back as I am not a fan of logos on the chest. The top is soft, reliably warm and as soon as it’s on the pile of clean washing, it’s on my back again. The retail price is around £95, which might seem a lot for a vest, but is not bad if you consider the Python as a very versatile and high-performance piece of exceptional knitwear.
I have also become ridiculously attached (although not literally) to my Armadillo Merino “three-season boot socks“, which are an extraordinary piece of knitting and have kept the damp, cold winter air at bay for a few months now. They are perfect to wear with wellies, which I seem to be in 90% of the time at present. The socks sell on the Armadillo Merino website for £24.95. I can heartily recommend close investigation of both these excellent products.
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