At the beginning of my knit design adventure, I was making garments to sell. My first experience was on a stall at Camden Market, London in the 1980s.
Sadly, I have no images of the knits I sold then, but it was around this time that I met the owner of a fashion boutique in Islington – Elaine Oxford and her shop North Wing – and she commissioned me to make handknits to compliment her fabric garments, based on the designs I was already producing.
Images of a photoshoot organised by a St. Martin’s fashion student circa 1984 can be seen here.
I then joined with a friend to form a company Aktif, and we designed and took orders for handknits at the British Designer Show, London. We produced 2 ranges – one which we sold to high street store Jigsaw. The other range was gorgeous – and I’m still very proud of it – but it was made using Rowan yarns, and was too expensive for most shops. Luckily, there are a few good photos taken by a photographer in a studio next to ours – whose name I’ve now sadly forgotten.
After Sue and I went our separate ways, I produced another collection which I again showed at the British Designer Show in London in 1990 – and again had a large order from Jigsaw, as well as selling to shops around the world.
I’m very proud of this collection, but have few good photos, and even the samples I kept are moth-eaten!! I used a lovely British chunky wool in natural colours, and used lots of textures in each garment, with hand embroidery to give the appearance of patchwork. I’ve actually seen new versions of this idea in the shops recently!
I did 2 subsequent collections, again selling to shops around the world, and then Elaine, the owner of the shop North Wing in which I had been selling my knitwear, asked if I wanted to take over the running of the shop whilst she pursued a new career.
I ran the shop, selling my own hand- and machine-knits, as well as fabric pieces, handbags and jewellery from 1996 – 2000, when the lease ran out. I then moved to a retail studio in the Oxo Tower for a year – and so ended my knitwear retail journey.
At the same time as this I was being commissioned by designers to turn their knit ideas into samples. The results can be seen here.
Apologies to all photographers whose names I’ve forgotten.
For the next step follow this link to North Wing.