Tag Archives: merino

REVIEW: Stitch -Mi- Lane Snug Spectator Merino Hat

Stitch -Mi- Lane is a relatively new brand, founded by bicycle enthusiast and designer Stephanie Drake. Stephanie, in her own words, has a passion for homegrown design and manufacture – and this shows in the small but perfectly formed range of cycling apparel and home-ware that makes up the Stitch -Mi- Lane collection. All products are made in the heart of Scotland, including the Snug Spectator Merino Hat, which I have got my hands on recently.

When I took this hat out of it’s packaging I could tell it was a bit more than your average bobble hat. The double thickness merino wool which the hat is crafted from gives it more weight than you’d expect from your everyday beanie, and certainly makes it feel like a luxury product. It just feels really nice – the fabric is thick and soft…..and it smells nice.

We all probably know the benefits of merino now. You can’t have a conversation with a cyclist without somebody mentioning it. But in case you’ve been hiding in a hole, here’s an overview. Merino has excellent heat retaining qualities whilst remaining breathable, and wicking sweat. It also has a clever way of deterring bacteria and the subsequent odour it may produce, and, being a natural fibre, reduces chances of irritation and itching.

The design of the Snug Spectator Hat is Stephanie’s own take on a contemporary jacquard pattern and contains bikes and chevrons. The nod towards the traditional makes for a subtle but rather lovely design. Not to forget the large pom-pom, or bobble, or whatever you would like to call it. This is also made of UK sourced merino, like the rest of the hat.

If you prefer cream or pink to navy, the hat is also available in those colours.

The knitted fabric has a decent amount of stretch in it. I think I probably have a large-ish head for a woman (I’m going by helmet size here..) and it fits fairly snugly, but would stretch to fit on a much bigger noggin than mine.

I haven’t had any problems with the fabric being itchy, which can sometimes be the case with knitted products. That’d be thanks to the merino, as mentioned above.

The double thickness merino makes this hat very warm indeed. I have worn it out on cold, windy walks, a trip to the park, to the pub, and on some very chilly trips on the bike (no, I do not always wear a helmet) and at my desk on days when I cannot afford to top up the heating. It has kept my head and ears very toasty on all these occasions. Despite being incredibly warm, it somehow manages to still maintain breathability. Useful when wearing the hat on a chilly but fast ride to the pub, and not wanting to have a fringe which is stuck to your head with sweat by the time you arrive. Thanks again, merino wool.

Because of the thickness of the wool, I found the hat sat a little oddly at first – with the seams sticking out a bit where the fabric joins. This has become much less noticeable as I wear the hat more and it moulds to be a head shape, not a flat thing packed in an envelope.

I haven’t washed the hat yet (thanks once more, odour killing merino), but the instructions state that if you turn it inside out then it can be machine washed at 40 degrees celsius. Useful if you get splattered in mud wearing this whilst watching a race. Or if someone spills beer on it in the pub.

In conclusion: a premium product with a very pleasing design, which is seriously warm and snuggly. More than I would normally pay for a hat, but you are getting more than a hat would normally give you.

What I like most about it

The beautifully simple bike design and the double thickness merino which makes it incredibly warm and cosy.

What I like least about it

Nothing.

Best for:

Wearing whilst watching a cyclocross race in bleak mid-Winter.

The details:

Price: £32.00

Material: 100% Merino wool

Colour: Navy (also available in cream and pink)

www.stitchmilane.co.uk

 

 

REVIEW: Vulpine women’s merino V neck tee

The claret tee (click for high res)

The claret tee

This review began with a false start. I received my parcel from Vulpine (complete with complementary green Vulpine musette) with excitement, and decided to wear my new tee that evening for a road ride. The claret merino fabric matched the red on my socks and bib shorts, so it would have been rude not to put it to the test right away. When it came to leaving, I grabbed my usual assortment of necessities: energy bar, pump, inner tube, tire levers, keys, phone, money. I went to put them in my jersey pockets like I always do….and realised that I only had space for my phone, and maybe a bit of money.

Having realised that the tee isn’t designed to be used as a jersey (clue is in the name!), I opted to wear it for a 4 mile ride across the city instead. I usually take a satchel when I’m riding about town, so pocket capacity isn’t a problem.

vulpine-tee

With arm warmers, for a cooler ride.

The beauty of this item (and I think the appeal of much of Vulpine’s gear) is in how it doesn’t look like ‘cycling apparel’, but has plenty of the technical features that make it great for wearing on the bike. Notably – it has a dropped hem at the back and a little reflective lining on the pocket. Then there is the fabric. Merino is brilliant – and this particular wool is very stretchy and very soft, which is a good start for comfort whilst cycling. I definitely noticed how much comfier it was than wearing a cotton t-shirt whilst on the bike.

Now for a few words on SWEAT. It’s something I do lots of, especially whilst riding a bicycle. It’s one of the reasons why I kit up in lycra, even if I’m only doing 10 miles. If I wear a “normal” t-shirt, it’ll be soaked in a few minutes. Enough on body functions – the point it, whilst the merino didn’t stop me sweating, it drew the sweat off my skin – eliminating that horrible clammy feeling. The tee also dried off quickly at the end of the ride, and once it did, the jersey felt fresh and didn’t smell. Magic.

I’ve since worn my Vulpine tee to work, to the pub, and to a BBQ. And haven’t had to worry about smelling. Thanks, merino sheep.

In Vulpine’s own words: “The Merino keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the heat. How so? Merino is hydrophilic, drawing water from the skin quickly and allowing it to evaporate, cooling your body. When it is cold merino traps warm dry air next to your skin, keeping you toasty.” 

There are also no labels – so no itching required.

The women’s tee is cut in at the waist and out at the hips, and has a slightly lower V than the men’s version. So it is actually a women’s top – as opposed to a men’s top in “women’s” colours. I have a size Small, and it fits me nicely (I’m a women’s size 10).

The current colour range

In conclusion: brilliant for short rides/commuting – but definitely not a replacement for your cycling jersey. Very comfy. Nice design. Gorgeous colours. Excellent at wicking sweat off your skin. A bit pricey perhaps, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. 

What I like most about it

The comfortable fit and stylish, women’s specific cut. The fabric, and it’s sweat-wicking, odour killing magic.

What I like least about it

The fact I can’t fit much in the pocket, which feels more like a decorative feature than a functional one.

Best for:

Riding to the pub. Commuting to a city job (you won’t feel gross when you change back into it at the end of the day because of the magic merino wool)

The details:

Price: £55.00

Material: Merino wool

Colour: claret (also available in fern green and grey)

www.vulpine.cc