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I love many subjects, two besides knitting are words and history.
Pulling words apart is fun and seeing how a letter changes everything, like brood to blood!
CARDIGAN is a word without clues.
Cardigan has a fabulous history long before its Hollywood, Happy Days or Moneypenny fame and it has nothing to do with carding wool.
Cardigan is trivia gold dust.
The 7th Earl of Cardigan, James Thomas Brudenell (1797-1868) survived much to be killed when thrown from his steed. At seventy one I'm sure he would have chosen this 'boots on' exit over any bed death, especially given his battle CV.
JAMES, The Earl.....of Cardigan, led the Charge of the Light Brigade (1854) at (wait for it ) The Battle of Balaclava and the original order (to charge) was given by Lord Raglan!
Maybe this bizarreness is only exciting to me. I love a clever raglan aran sweater.
What has all this to do with Stardigans and Cardigans?
Well, it seems this was star making C a r d I g a n stuff of the time, given that in 1855 Alfred Lord Tennyson immortalised the battle in the poem of same name 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. I'm an Irish designer saving (or attempting to save) Aran Knitting in Ireland from mass destruction at the hands of dubious values in the global commerce supply chain quoting English battles, Earls and Lords but credit to Cardigan where it's due.
Back to the knitting:
Cardigan, the 7th Earl inherited his title and fortune from his father, The 6th Earl of Cardigan in 1837. A man after my own heart he prioritised upgrading the kit of his regiment, (dress for the job you want?). He spent extraordinary sums at the time (10k a year) from his personal wealth to style his troops. One iconic jacket became known as the cardigan, phew I got there!
2020 has brought new Stardom to The Cardigan.
The Earl of foremost fashion lux from Magherafelt and a past UK Designer Of the Year, Wanderson, I mean JW ANDERSON turned his eye to knitting in lockdown. I am a big fan of both, knitting and JW.
My friend Rosaleen Hegarty, Crana Knitwear sampled fashion week hand-knit multi-coloured pieces here in Donegal for JW's early label.. Well, Jonathan puts a brightly coloured patchwork Cardigan-Stardigan on Harry Styles this Summer and offers it to the knitting community as a FREE pattern.
'Confessions of a Yarnaholic', Ruth Herring wrote the pattern and you'll find Ruth on IG too. (Pattern writing for knitwear is like architecture for a house, best to have a great plan). Designed as a stash-busting project for locked down knitters, an act of kindness and positive community vibes for JW. The 'Stardigan" is available to buy directly from him too.
Stardigan? Still confused?
To be a Stardigan you must be a headline piece. Let's say you are not thrown in the back of a car as a maybe I need you thing, you are THE THING.
The cardigan has been thrown back too often and is now having a 'Hell Yeah' year. It's your piece that will define the day, creatively and practically (you can even open the door wearing it over pj's). What Emily Cronin, Senior Fashion Editor at the Telegraph says about the Cardigan that is a Stardigan, it has "assertiveness of spirit".
So it seems we always made STARDIGANS in Donegal.
Rhode Island Creative and fellow Cardigan Lover Taylor Swift lit up social media in July with her lockdown produced album 'Folklore'. Wearing a polo neck Aran Sweater Look in some album publicity, I found myself more interested in the song on the album called 'Cardigan' and it's beautiful lyric.
"And when I felt like an old cardigan
Under someones bed
You put me on and said
I was your favorite"
From 'cardigan' on the Folklore album by Taylor Swift
That's all I want, a favourite cardigan!
Let me knit your next Stardigan here in Donegal and you'll be ready for love or war!