The Cable Knit Sweater


The cable knit sweater has come a long way from its salty, maritime beginnings at the turn of the 19th century when it was developed as a rugged garment for fishermen and seafarers. The cable knitting technique (which produces the sweater's distinct, raised patterns) is as functional as it is decorative: the weave is more durable and insulating than standard knitted fabric, and in its original incarnation, when it was woven from untreated wool with the natural lanolin oils preserved, it was almost water-resistant.



The cable knit's charms, however, stretch well beyond practicality alone. Its history is embedded in folklore, too, with claims that the various inconsistencies and patterns of the knit could be interpreted. It is believed the knitted cables on the sweaters are symbols of the fisherman’s ropes. Basket-knit sections, for example, were said to represent a fisherman's basket, as a good luck charm for a plentiful haul, while variations in the knit were used to distinguish different clans or families, perhaps making it easier to identify the body of a drowned sailor? This is an idea now thought however, to be a falsehood.




By the early-to-mid 20th century, the cable knit sweater had made its transition from work to leisure, with the style becoming frequently associated with gentlemanly pursuits like golf and cricket. From then onwards, the cable knit took its place as a casual menswear staple, associated with the preppy, Ivy League style.

At Old Harry, we have paid homage to the cable knit as we see it, and come up with our own take on this iconic jumper, combining the rugged seafaring aspects with today’s modern version of the garment. Let us know what you think!