Monday, March 05, 2012

In search of the perfect glove

Some time ago, at a press event somewhere, I picked up one of those bags of gardening-related products you get when people who sell things want you to write about what they're selling.

Now, normally I treat this with great scepticism as it is sometimes laughably un-targeted: I have little use for chemicals to treat rose blackspot when I'm a (mostly) organic fruit and veg specialist.

However, in this particular bag was a pair of bright yellow and black gardening gloves.

Now I am something of a connoisseur of gardening gloves, due to the fact that I am, with a piquant irony, allergic to soil, so if I garden without gloves my hands erupt into something not unlike the surface of Mars. Apart from fiddly jobs, like potting on seedlings, I always have a pair of gloves on.

This has made me very picky. Gloves have to be thin: unless I'm dealing with brambles, I want to feel what I'm doing. Yet they also have to be tear-proof and tough.

They have to be waterproof – nothing worse than gardening with hands wrapped in soggy canvas – and made to last: I wear them for anything from half an hour (on a bad day) to six or seven hours (heaven) every single day.

It's a lot to ask. As a result, I have been through a lot of brands in my time.

A year or two ago I'd run out - again - and while I was hunting for an old pair that might still be serviceable, and failing to find one, I stumbled across my freebie pair.

At first I wasn't convinced. They had a fiddly bit of velcro across the wrist which got muddy almost immediately and failed to stick, so started flapping about irritatingly (I cut them off). But as I wore them over, and over again, and they still looked (nearly) as good as when they started, I was gradually but completely won over.

Waterproof to heroic proportions, they're as thin as a second skin. I can do anything in them; they even keep out a commendable proportion of thorns (though I still don gauntlets – over the top – for the hated brambles).

And best of all: they last. Boy, do they last. I wore my gloves – and wore them, and wore them – for over a year before they started to show signs of wear and tear. I had never had a pair that lasted that long. Admittedly, once they did start going, they went very rapidly; huge holes in the fingers within a day or two. But that's fine; that's more than fine. That's admirable endurance.

I went to buy a new pair, but there was no label sewn into the gloves, and I'd long since lost the publicity blurb. Note to manufacturers: there is such a thing as too discreet. My newly-found perfect gloves were lost again.

And then...

In one of those serendipitous moments, I walked round the corner in the Garden Press Event last month slap-bang into a rack of bright yellow and black gloves. The mourning was over: I'd found my perfect gloves once again.

They turned out to be Weedmaster Plus, by Town & Country. It's not often I harangue a PR lady for a pair of the product they're trying to sell - in fact I don't think I've ever done it before - but on this occasion I hope she was pleasantly surprised by my refusal to go anywhere without at least one pair safely stowed in my bag. The relief of having them back again is wonderful.

I'm told the waterproofness comes from a nitrile coating on the palm and fingers – yeah, right, means nothing to me. All I know is they don't go soggy. There is a version without the fiddly velcro strap – which was the version they were trying to sell at the show – but they also happen to be the result of some technical development which means you can produce a pattern on the waterproof nitrile bit. Result: I'm sure they're lovely to garden in, but you wouldn't want anyone to actually see you doing it.

My yellow-and-black Weedmasters are now my glove of choice, and now I've found them I won't be letting them go again. Just don't let them take them off the market for some 'new, improved' version: you can't improve on something this good, and I shall be inconsolable.


Janet said...

I've been through many a pair of gloves and found many wanting. They either go through in the fingers aren't waterproof or are too thick. I need to get my hands in the soil so the gloves always get discarded sooner or later (unless I'm pruning). I shall look out for these...

Oxonian Gardener said...

Couldn't agree with you more in that gloves need to be thin, so you can actually feel what you are doing. I wonder if yours can do the real test of tying in a rose, or anything similar without having to take them off to tie the knot. Love this type, I use similar ones and love the fact that you can wash them in the washing machine. Will never use the fancy and expensive (yellow) leather ones ever again!!!

Kaveh Maguire said...

Why do they always have to come in such stupid colors?

Artist's Garden said...

I have these gloves too!
My Mum bought them for me last year as she was fed up with the state of my hands, which was a result of taking gloves off half way through the day and not putting them back on ... I agree of the 100's of gardening gloves I have these are my favourite.

Hope you got "a few" pairs from Town and Country so that you have reserve for when they "improve" them.

The Constant Gardener said...

Janet - I am constantly taking my gloves on and off: on to fill a seedtray, off to actually sow the seeds, on again to transfer seed tray to water bath... you know the drill. Maddening, but unfortunately necessary.

Petra - have got into the habit of taking gloves off to actually tie the knot so haven't tested that one out on these gloves yet! Will report back....!

Kaveh - couldn't agree more. Why they don't just produce them in green, or brown, or black I don't know. That way you could actually be seen out in public in the things.

AG - another fan! Yes I did get two or three pairs... :D

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

OK, I'm sold, I tend to leave the gloves off because I have never found a pair that both let me feel what I was doing and didn't instantly fall apart when I started doing it! Have just ordered myself a pair. Hope you are on commission!

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