Browsing through an issue of Tatler magazine recently (as you do) I stumbled across the requisite Christmas lists, courtesy of some of this country's so-called style leaders. Whatever, I thought, pausing, nonetheless, at Natalie Massenet, founder of Net-a-Porter's contribution. She's a woman whose fashion and business credentials to date have proved faultless, after all.
For both professional and, apparently, personal reasons, Ms Massenet name-checked Wool and the Gang, a Paris-based company dedicated to promoting glamorous knitwear, ethically sourced Peruvian wool and indeed the craft of knitting itself. Wool and the Gang is a recent(ish) addition to the site's merchandise. It's therefore clearly beneficial on her part to mention it. Having said that, the product is so well marketed, packaged and lovely that it is entirely believable that a discerning eye would buy into it, if not swallow the whole shebang hook, line and sinker.
I certainly have. My first purchase was an oversized scarf in teal alpaca which comes in its own branded bag (pictured) and includes the wool – obviously – which is as richly coloured and textured as any could be, two big shiny dark wood knitting needles, a pattern complete with instructions that even a novice could fathom and two more needles to weave in the tails (that's as technical as it gets) once the principle part of the exercise has been completed. One week of not particularly intensive knitting in front of past episodes of Dog Borstal (my favourite programme) later and voila! I have the biggest, brightest and warmest scarf ever. And – result of the decade – I made it myself!
Not everyone is convinced. Dr Who jokes there have been aplenty but what do those Philistines know? I'm now knitting two hats – I'm under pressure here, it's nearly Christmas – and a baby blanket.
Admittedly, I have a history where knitting is concerned. 15 years ago I crafted a fern green sweater for my mother that, despite its absolute wrongness, she stoically deigned to wear. Not long after that, I came up with a petrol blue, chunky knit cardigan that I gave to my best friend, Lucy. "It's great, like Martin Margiela or something," she said, as the garment in question duly fell apart.
Fast forward and knitting with Wool and the Gang doesn't come cheap. I'm sure if I went to John Lewis and searched out similar yarns, needles, patterns and so forth I might at least save some money. But that's not the point. This is knitting as instant gratification and that is worth a small fortune, at least to me. In fact, so enamoured am I with this latest endeavour that I'm considering investing in the fuchsia glove and legwarmer kit even though I don't like wool gloves, have any intention of wearing legwarmers or care even remotely for the colour pink.