Wool sweaters were prolific amongst WWII British irregular units. The original mountain sweater, pictured below, was issued to alpine troops but was rapidly adopted by various raiding units. Toward the end of the war, suede patches were added to the shoulders and elbows; the 'Commando Sweater' was born. This timeless design is still used by military, police, security, commercial pilots, hikers and hunters. It remains popular due to its durability, comfort and smart appearance.
I prefer LL Bean's variant, 100% ribbed wool with shoulder and elbow patches but no epaulets. This is considered the most practical spec. Wool is the only natural material to retain its insulative property when wet. It breathes well and is fireproof. The patches serve to protect wear areas but also prevent static friction against an outer layer, when shouldering a firearm or drawing a bow. Elbows are an obvious wear area, the shoulders are also stressed by abrasion from pack straps, webbing and suspenders for wool trousers.
Wool is not windproof; the Alpha M65 field jacket compliments the sweater nicely in that respect. Available in olive, navy and black, the sweater fits snug on the torso for, effective layering, maximum insulation and minimal snag. The sleeves run extra long for universal fit, excess cuff is typically folded back over the arm. For those carrying a few extra pounds, I recommend going up a size. If you are looking for a warm sweater that works in the bush or about town, the wooly pully will serve you well.
How to wash the Wooly Pully
One of the reasons wool fell out of favor was its difficulty of washing. I recommend using the method developed for diaper covers. It restores the wool's Lanolin, the grease secreted by sheep to shed water and protect against bacteria. Eucalan is a natural, rinse free, wool wash solution that deposits Lanolin in the sweater. Lansinoh offer a concentrated form of Lanolin, used by nursing mothers for its healing properties. The procedure outlined below is known as lanolizing.
Melt 1 inch of Lansinoh Lanolin in some hot water.
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Ian ST John.
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