My love of knitting started at 5 years old. I distinctly remember sitting at my Granny’s knee, me on a small stool, her in her low seated armchair teaching me how to knit. She was brought up knitting too. She would make finely knitted socks for her brothers serving in WW1, and so she passed on her knowledge first to my mother and then to me. In addition, my Grandfather, a Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, would knit tiny bootees (2 ply yarn – ouch!) for myself and my brother when we were babies. I imagine it was my Granny who taught him too.
So you could say that knitting was in the blood. By the time I was at school I was making my own cardigans, jumpers and most importantly, clothes for my dolls! My love of arts and crafts continued throughout school and my interest developed more and more towards fashion clothing. With this in mind, after I finished school, I went on to complete a four year Fashion & Design degree course in London in the hopes of working with fabulous fabrics and design in haute couture. I was indeed lucky enough to work as assistant designer to two top London Couturiers at the time – one of them Joe Mattli, followed by Norman Hartnell.
I was still a hugely keen knitter though. I had in fact made my outfit for my first interview for Joe Mattli from a gorgeous beige Jaeger yarn - a cowl top with matching skirt and beret. And I think it was working with these designers that inspired and fuelled my ambition to become a hand knitwear designer - I wanted to create knitted fabrics to make beautiful clothes.
And so it was I got a job as assistant to the head designer at a Coats Patons subsidiary. I learnt so much from this wonderful designer, Betty Tullis, and am indebted to her. She taught me everything there was to know about the process of hand knitwear designing - from the conception of an idea, pattern writing, construction and grading a garment, to proof reading of the final printed copy. For her it was paramount that as a designer we were capable of creating a garment from beginning to end.
A few years later I moved to Patons and Baldwins itself. It was during my time here I made the decision to go it alone and become a freelance hand knitwear designer. And this is what I have done ever since.
I have contributed to many books in the years since and written two books myself inspired by Beatrix Potter's characters and the beautiful landscapes (and Herdwick sheep) of the Cumbrian Lake District. The first was a knitting book and the second a needlepoint book.
I see my design style as classic with a modern twist. I want to design garments that people will enjoy knitting and feel good wearing, catering for all different skill levels.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. A lot of the time imagining stitches and yarns and the shapes I want to achieve sets things off in my mind. But also the colours and textures of the natural world inspire me. Ideas evolve and sometimes you have to be patient.
For many years now I have been creating designs for many of the leading British knitwear magazines and publications as well as offering for sale patterns online.
I am extremely lucky and grateful to have a small, brilliant band of knitters from across the country who knit up the sample pieces for me.
I’ve been living in Cambridgeshire for many years now with my husband. I have two daughters, one who is involved in the tech side of my knitwear business and my right-hand help in so many ways.
The other lives in France with her husband and two boys. They have a diversified farm embracing permaculture and they produce beautiful wool from their flock of Hampshire Down sheep.
Knitting is the most wonderful craft. Once you’ve got the bug there’s no stopping you, so - Happy Knitting!
A selection of my pattern designs can be viewed and purchased from the following websites -