Back in January, we were delighted to announce our support for Benno Rawlinson on his gruelling 3000-mile Atlantic rowing challenge. He and the crew of Avalon set off for a month-long journey of high winds, low temperatures and a punishing rowing schedule.
Avalon and her crew achieved the sixth fastest Atlantic crossing ever, and sadly unable to break the world record this time. Bad luck with weather, currents and a broken dagger board meant the team fell a few days short of their target, arriving in Barbados 35 days and 12 hours after leaving Gran Canaria.
We talked to Benno about the highs and lows of his exciting, arduous trip.
Benno: “Thanks! The expedition went very well; unfortunately our luck with the weather and currents was not on our side this time – we were hampered by currents going against us. This wasn’t helped by our dagger board, which provides the boat’s stability, broke a couple of weeks into the journey followed not long afterwards by our auto steering. So we ended up having to have a person steering the boat rather than rowing. So although we didn’t break the world record, we were the sixth fastest crossing ever, and we finished safely and all in one piece excluding the odd blister or so.”
“Yes. We had so many challenges with the weather and the boat, but the biggest challenge we all faced was the mental one that we had to overcome. Despite often being very tired and sore we had to get back on the oars again to row for another 2 hours after a 2 hour break and then repeat all day and night. However counting down the number of clean pairs of underwear I had certainly gave me a boost as we got ever closer to the finish. All in all though it was a very enjoyable trip and certainly a life experience I will never forget.”
“Absolutely. I thought the silk briefs were fantastic as they were very lightweight, comfortable and yet incredibly tough to cope with everything that was thrown at them whilst rowing across the Atlantic. What was particularly important was that they didn’t soak up too much water like their cotton counterparts, dried quickly and regardless of the temperature day or night they kept me comfortable. If I were doing another expedition I would certainly take silk base layers again, but next time I would take a selection of styles to provide some variety on the body in terms of fit and where the seams lie.”
“The highlight of the trip was certainly seeing a pod of around 30 – 40 dolphins swimming alongside our boat and doing flips in the air. You could also hear them singing through the hull of the boat as we tried to sleep.”
The crew were taking on the challenge of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean, from Gran Canaria to Barbados, in under 30 days. We sent Benno three pairs of silk mix briefs to help him on his way, as silk is ideal for rowers and other sports, its fine knit wicking away sweat and protecting the skin from chafing and irritation.
This video from their Sea Trials last year gives you some idea of the harsh conditions they faced on their journey.
The Avalon’s route from Gran Canaria to Barbados. The crew failed to beat the sub 30-day barrier, but did achieve the sixth fastest crossing ever!
Silk is like wool – it’s a natural, protein based fabric that is surprisingly resilient and long lasting. It is often categorised as hand wash or dry-clean only, but now that that washing machines have evolved to handle low-temperature, gentle cycles you can safely machine wash all of Patra’s silks.
The things most likely to ruin your delicate fabrics are strong chemical detergents, which can be found in both biological and non-bio detergents, as well as bleach, whiteners and fabric softeners – so here’s our guide to the best way to keep silk in tip-top condition.
Every day there seems to be a new detergent on the market, and they’re typically grouped into biological and non-biological.
Biological and colour-protecting detergents contain enzymes that help to get your wash really clean. Regrettably these enzymes degrade the structure of both wool and silk fibres so these detergents should be avoided. Unfortunately, some of the most popular non-bios aren’t silk or wool-safe either. These can contain harsh chemicals such as bleaches or optical whiteners which similarly damage the silk fibres or leave residues reducing your garments sumptuous feel and natural lustre.
Always look for silk or wool-safe detergents carrying the Woolmark endorsement. Persil Silk and Wool, Ecover Delicate, Woolite Extra Delicates Care are good examples, and can usually be used both for hand washing and in the machine.
Don’t worry about having to wash all your silk separately from your other washing just because it needs a special detergent. As long as you’ve separated your colours from your whites and the rest of the load isn’t heavily soiled, the silk and wool-safe detergent at a 30°C temperature on a gentle cycle will be fine for them too.
How to wash and dry your silk fabrics
The mechanics of washing silk clothes are pretty simple, and will become second nature with time. In fact, follow these rules for all your fabrics and they’ll last longer.
* Choose a low-temperature, gentle cycle, and use the time-reduction setting if your washing machine offers it.
* Turn your garments inside out to protect the outer surface that people see.
* Don’t soak individual areas or apply detergents directly to stains prior to machine washing or during hand washing.
* Do separate out your strong colours from your whites and neutrals
* Wash your silks inside a pillowcase to protect them from damage during a machine wash from fastenings and detergent balls.
* Make sure if you’re hand washing you don’t apply washing powder directly to the garment but dissolve it in water first
* Don’t tumble-dry – use a gentle, low speed spin cycle and if they’re still wet, roll up in a clean towel to press out excess water and then air-dry
* Don’t dry clothes on or next to radiators or other sources of heat, as the fabric may yellow. Keep out of direct sunlight too.
If you do choose to use non–silk/wool detergents, perhaps to save a much loved garment, use it in moderation, over a short cycle time and with an extra rinse before returning back to a silk friendly detergent. A possible option would be to try one of the milder biological detergents such as Dreft Automatic
If you find your silk is yellowing or the colours have faded you can try pre-soaking in water with a tablespoon of white vinegar. Remember that part of silk’s beauty is that it is not brilliantly white, and will gradually return to its light, natural cream colour.
If you’ve still got problems with stains, try dry cleaning, but make sure you advise your dry cleaner that it is silk and therefore a delicate item.
The finishing process
It’s best to iron your silks while they’re still slightly damp. When ironing silk, use a low setting and iron on the reverse to be on the safe s ide! If, like mine, your iron sometimes spits water or even lime scale, it’s a good idea to lay a clean, damp tea towel over your precious silks and iron them through that!
To store silk garments for long periods of time, avoid airtight plastic containers. It may keep moths at bay, but residual moisture – and silk is a very absorbent fibre – can cause mildew. It’s much better to store silk in cotton pillowcases.
Following in the fashion footsteps of D&G and House of Holland, we’ve brought out our own print pieces, with wide-cut, loose flowing silk trousers in on-trend floral and tribal patterns.
Because we design our own collection rather than buying wholesale pieces like many other retailers, we get to choose our fabrics, and our styles, with care and thought.
In business since 1964, we know what you like, and what you don’t! And you tell us you want a comfortable, flattering take on the latest trends that suit your figure and your lifestyle.
Team with a loose top, cinched in with a wide belt if you’re blessed with a small waist, or embrace the season’s draped look and wear a long pendant necklace to draw the eye down and create a little definition in the bust area!
Think about the best nights out you’ve had – aren’t they always better when you feel comfortable with your outfit? With wide-leg silk or cotton trousers in a generous, flattering cut and a fashionable print we guarantee you’ll feel glamorously at-ease.
You can afford to wear a more figure-hugging top for evening, or go to town with rich, darker colours, and dress up while creating shape with a smart tailored jacket. A few chunky bracelets, a belt and statement necklace balance a bold print and add elegance.
Whether you’re flying off to Paris for the weekend or meeting friends for coffee, you can’t beat these patterned trousers for the ‘this old thing? I just threw it on’ look. Weekends are about comfort and relaxing, so opt for pumps or flat sandals. Don’t worry about short legs – a vertical print like this one coupled with the famously flattering wide legs mean you can finally kick back and relax in comfortable shoes.
If height is an issue, remember to draw the eye downwards, so a statement necklace or hair accessory causes people to start at your face, before looking downwards at your bold trousers.
You can rely on Patra to bring you wearable fashion in classic styles!
At last! Crocuses are coming up and the first daffs are starting to peep out. It’s lovely and sunny, but we definitely detected a fluttering of snow this morning.
When you can’t rely on the weather at this time of year, how do you dress for all eventualities? Our new Spring collection has all the perfect seasonal cross-over items you’ve come to expect from Patra.