William Lockie is a business that thrives on putting quality first. The luxury knitwear and cashmere manufacturer is based in Hawick in the Scottish Borders - a town famed for its knitwear industry.
Scottish Borders heritage
The Company has been based at the same mill in Hawick for over 140 years. Founder William Lockie began his working life at hosiery manufacturers, Messrs William Laidlaw and Sons. Later in his career, Lockie became interested in setting up his own business in Hawick. At the time, the town was transforming into an industrial powerhouse for woollen garments. By the 1870’s, over one million pairs of wool socks a year were produced in Hawick.
In 1874, William Lockie & Co Ltd. was formed when Lockie seized the opportunity to buy manufacturing equipment from his former hosiery employer. He built his textile manufacturing business when the town was booming with skills and expertise in the trade.
Following founder William Lockie’s death in 1900, the business was passed down to his nephew, Walter Thorburn. As the textile industry changed in the 20th century and many companies moved to produce cheaper products at volume, William Lockie stayed true to its roots of quality knitwear. By remaining focused on producing the best quality knitwear, the business survived the changes in the market.
William Lockie has stood the test of time. Today, it is one of the oldest family run luxury knitwear companies in the Scottish Borders. From the 1900s to this day, the Thorburn family, who are direct descendants of Lockie, have remained owners of the firm. The company’s premises can still be found at Drumlanrig Square in Hawick, and the business continues to focus on quality manufacturing techniques and attention to detail.
The finest knitwear skills
William Lockie is a company founded on using the best knitwear skills to produce the best quality knitwear. Generations of families have been employed at ‘Lockies’, as the business is affectionately known. Skills and expertise have been passed on from generation to generation. No sacrifices are made on quality. From the yarn used in production to the hand-stitching and finishing details, quality control is crucial.
Revered by Savile Row
William Lockie also manufactures garments for Savile Row tailors and couture labels around the world, producing the finest cashmere and knitwear to exacting standards.
These businesses demand the best. When only the best will do, companies go to William Lockie. Why? It is probably due to William Lockie’s uncompromising dedication to quality. The end garments are beautiful to wear as they are knitted from the finest yarns.
The best raw materials
First, the finest quality raw materials are selected. William Lockie has an enduring relationship with Scottish company Todd & Duncan, who produce high quality yarns of lambswool, Geelong and cashmere.
Cashmere, also known as the ‘fibre of kings’ for its warmth, durability and softness, is sourced from the undercoats of mountain goats in Mongolia and China. William Lockie only accepts cashmere that meets a particular length and thickness standard - a small fraction of the harvest. By using the stronger and longer fibres, William Lockie makes garments that are less prone to pilling, last longer and retain their shape better.
For lambswool garments, William Lockie chooses the finest quality wool from pedigree sheep reared especially for this purpose in South Australia. Merino and Geelong are also used in their knitwear range. Merino wool comes from the first fleece of Merino lambs and is the warmest of all wools, providing great temperature control. Geelong is the most sought-after wool in the world – super-fine, soft and springy 100% wool from specially bred Australian lambs.
Camelhair is another premium fibre used in William Lockie knitwear. It is a 100% natural and undyed fibre that comes from camels that live in the Gobi Desert. No chemicals are used when this fibre is processed.
The yarns are oiled, spun and dyed by Todd & Duncan before being sent to William Lockie. The oiling of the yarns allows the fibres to stand up to the stresses of the knitting process.
Design, knitting and hand-finishing
There are over 30 processes in the manufacture of a single William Lockie garment.
William Lockie uses precise machine technology to tightly knit the wool fibres on special frames. For William Lockie’s standard designs, German-built knitting machines work to patterns inputted by old-fashioned punch cards. A tight knitting tension is used to ensure William Lockie jumpers hold their shape over time.
For the manufacture of intricate or bespoke garments, Shima Seiki programming is completed in-house to design the knit patterns. Using the latest technology, detailed 3D modelling and mapping of the garments is carried out prior to production on Shima knitting machines.
As many competitors have moved to fully automated machine processes, William Lockie still has a dedicated hand-finishing team. After the machines have knitted the separate pieces that make up each jumper, the Body Linking process is carried out by hand. Each jumper is hand-finished, where the nine separate pieces (arms, front, back, collar, cuffs etc.) that make up a garment are stitched together.
One sweater at a time is hand-finished, sometimes using sewing machines and at other times, for example to open-up the neck holes, a pair of tailor’s shears and a piece of chalk are used. This attention to detail and craftsmanship is not found with mass market knitwear.
Softening of the jumpers
When the jumpers are sewn together and before the collars are attached, each jumper is washed in a washing machine using local water to remove the oils and make them super soft. The William Lockie mill sits on the banks of a tributary of the River Teviot, the Slitrig Water. The river’s soft, natural water is used with detergent to treat the fibres for maximum softness.
Water has been an important resource for the Scottish Borders Knitwear Industry. Initially the fast-flowing rivers were a source of power for the mills. Now it is the soft water quality, being low in calcium and other minerals, that is used to wash the wool. This ensures that only super soft garments are made. After the jumpers are washed, the collars are attached, they are pressed and undergo a final quality check.
At A Hume, we are proud to offer this esteemed Scottish Borders brand which uses many traditional skills to produce the highest quality knitwear. We stock a wide range of William Lockie men’s Geelong, lambswool, merino and cashmere knitwear for you to order online from the comfort of your home.
As a retailer of luxury brands, we put a lot of thought into how to care for our products. Make the most of your William Lockie knitwear with our top tips on how to care for your cashmere and wool - taken from generations of experience at A Hume.
As one of the most luxurious natural fibres in the world, cashmere requires a little more care than other fibres.
Cleaning your cashmere
You can hand wash, machine wash or dry clean your cashmere. For best care, William Lockie recommends hand washing cashmere using the following guide:
Turn your garment inside out. Submerge in a solution of lukewarm water and gentle wool wash product. Gently squeeze the suds into the garment, but do not rub, wring or stretch the fabric.
Marks or problem areas? Spot treat any marks with a little neat detergent and massage gently between your fingertips. Be careful not to rub the cashmere.
Rinse in clean warm water. Repeat as necessary until the water runs clear.
When the garment is rinsed, gently press the water out. Place lengthwise on a clean, dry towel. Roll up the towel and press to squeeze out excess water, without wringing or twisting. Unroll the towel and smooth the garment into its original shape. Otherwise, place the garment on a short, light spin to help remove most of the water.
Before leaving to dry, ensure sleeves and hems are smoothed flat, pull pockets straight and button up cardigans. Leave to air dry flat on a clean dry towel. Use a flat drying rack if you have one. When dry, iron on the reverse and use a cool iron (two dots) to gently press the garment.
What to avoid when hand washing cashmere?
The recommended method for long-lasting care of cashmere is hand washing. However, if you do machine wash or dry clean your garment there are important things to be aware of.
For machine washing, turn your garment inside out and place in a wash bag. Only use the delicate wool setting on your machine and the gentlest spin cycle. Allow to air dry flat after washing.
Dry cleaning can deter moths as they do not like the chemical smell, however it can also reduce the super-soft feel of cashmere. Repeated dry cleaning over time can reduce the weight of a garment, making it thinner. So we advise keeping dry cleaning to a minimum.
Cleaning wool garments
Caring for wool properly, can significantly increase the lifespan of your knitwear. William Lockie wool knitwear comes in lambswool, Geelong and merino. Follow our easy care steps to keep all your wool garments looking great wear, after wear.
To wash wool, you can either hand wash, machine wash or dry clean. We recommend hand washing William Lockie wool garments if possible.
Hand washing wool
Turn your jumper inside out. Use a solution of warm water and wool laundry liquid to submerge the garment.
Spot treat any marks with a small amount of neat detergent – massaging it gently into the wool, without rubbing.
Rinse in clean warm water and repeat until the water runs clear, using a consistent water temperature.
Once rinsed, gently press the water out and lay lengthwise on a clean, dry towel. Roll up the towel to squeeze out excess water, but do not wring or twist the garment. Unroll and smooth your garment into its original shape.
To dry – leave to air dry naturally on a flat towel or flat drying rack. Smooth out any wrinkles in the jumper before leaving it to dry.
Machine washing wool
Over time, wool that is regularly machine washed can lose its softness. However some lambswool is specially treated so that it can be machine washed. Always follow care label advice.
William Lockie wool jumpers can be machine washed on a gentle wool cycle.
Turn your knitwear inside out and place in a wash bag for extra protection. Select your most delicate wool wash setting and a 30 degree temperature. Use special laundry liquid for wool.
After washing, lay your garment flat on a clean dry towel. Smooth into its original shape and do any buttons up, before leaving to air dry naturally. Do not try to stretch the wool after washing.
What to avoid when washing wool?
Dry cleaning wool
We advise only dry cleaning your wool clothes occasionally and if necessary. The softness and pill of the wool can be damaged with regular dry cleaning. The chemicals used in dry cleaning can deter moths, but there are other moth deterrents like lavender. See our tips for storing your William Lockie garments.
William Lockie camelhair jackets and V-neck cardigans are made from the fine undercoat of Mongolian camels. To care for this premium fibre we recommend hand washing.
Hand wash camelhair garments in cool water using a delicate, wool laundry detergent. After rinsing out the detergent, gently press out the water or place on a short, light spin.
Dry naturally on a flat towel, away from direct heat or sunlight. Do not tumble dry. Once dry, iron on the reverse with a cool iron (two dots).
After looking after your William Lockie camelhair garment and removing pills, over time your garment will soften more in handle and touch.
Pilling of knitwear
Any cashmere or wool knitwear can pill after wear, where tiny balls or ‘pills’ appear creating a bobbling effect. Pilling is a natural process that occurs with all natural yarns. It is caused by friction from wear or the build-up of static electricity underneath other garments.
Bobbles or ‘pills’ can be easily removed by hand or by using a cashmere or wool comb.
When pills are removed from cashmere, the fibre will ‘settle’ and become even softer to handle and touch. Cashmere will improve with age if cared for well.
Storing wool or cashmere
Always clean your knitwear before storing, as fresh stains may not be visible yet and will oxidise and become fixed during storage.
We suggest folding your jumpers or cardigans rather than hanging them. Hanging wool or cashmere garments on regular plastic or wire hangers can create shoulder dimples and distort the garment’s shape. If hanging, use special knitwear hangers that have a greater curve – these allow the garment to hang naturally without strain to the shoulders.
Storing your garment for a long time? Place the garment in a clothing storage bag or box made from a breathable fabric like polypropylene that allows the air to circulate. Store in a damp-free area away from direct heat and sunlight. Do not store clothes in your attic as it is likely to become hot in summer and damp in winter.
Never store clothes in polythene bags or plastic dry-cleaning bags as they do not allow natural fibres to breathe. Plastic creates a humid atmosphere which encourages mould and mildew, leading to the yellowing of fabrics and permanent staining.
Keep moths away by using lavender sachets, mothballs or cedar chips in your drawers or storage area.
A jumper needs to fit well in order to flatter you most. Wearing a jumper that is too big can make you look larger than you are. Wearing one too small can stretch the fabric and look unflatteringly tight.
How to find the right size?
We recommend measuring an existing jumper that fits you well before ordering online. To measure a jumper, lay your garment flat on a table. Take a measuring tape and place it straight across the width of the garment, going from underneath one armpit to the other. Note down the measurement in inches or centimetres.
Once you have this measurement, please see our product page Size Guide for the individual garment you wish to purchase. Most of the William Lockie knitwear collection is individually measured by our A Hume Size and Fit Team.
The sleeve measurements on our Size Guides refer to the length between the shoulder seam and the cuff. For the length of the jumper, we measure the back of the garment from the base of the collar to the bottom of the jumper.
Consider the garment fabric
Also consider the garment material when selecting your size. Lambswool jumpers can give a closer fit than merino wool jumpers.
Merino wool has a stretchier and springier feel than lambswool. This means they have extra ‘give’, which may allow you to choose one size up from your chest measurement and still have a relaxed fit. Geelong also has a little stretch but not as much as merino wool.
The cashmere William Lockie jumpers tend to be slightly more generous in sizing than those made from wool.
How to know when the fit is right?
The shoulder seam should sit right where the top of your shoulder bone ends, on your shoulder point.
There should be no puckering at the armpit (too small) or over-bagging of the fabric (too big). The sleeves should give enough room for movement and finish at the base of your thumb, sitting neatly where your wrist begins.
William Lockie jumpers have a slightly generous sleeve width around the bicep area.
For the best collar fit, the collar should lie flat against the chest, without straining. If you are wearing a shirt underneath, the shirt collar points should be able to be tucked neatly just under the V.
The jumper should allow for ease of movement in the body, with about 2.5–5cm of ‘give’ at the sides. If the jumper is puckering across the chest it is too tight. Even if you have well defined muscles, having a skin-tight fit does not look good. Your jumper should show the definition and shape of your body without being too tight.
Jumpers should sit about 4cm below the belt, allowing enough length for good movement without riding up. Too long a jumper can make your body to leg length seem disproportionate and the material may billow when you sit down. Too short and you may see your shirt peeking out from underneath your jumper. The jumper hem should always overlap your waistband.