The Knitwear and Accessory Brands to Support this Winter
It's a time to bury yourself in all of that cosy familiar wool. Right now, two layers of everything are on. In this article, we share with you a selection of our favourite knitwear and woven accessory designers to support this winter - either in gifting, or taking a look at what they do and sharing.
Valentina creates made to order accessories and knitted garments from her London studio using surplus yarns. They are playful, fun, unusual - showcasing a massive skillset, the pieces will delight you in their ingenuity and colour palette. We particularly love the sweet collars, and the scarves that are filled with pockets of yarn balls. But now there are also bibs, leg warmers, beanies and the cosiest of lounge pants in a darker palette and Valentina's signature style.
To learn more about Valentina and the business, check out our lesson from her.
Bea's products are so wonderfully unique in their design. Featuring graphic geometric patterns inspired by West African textiles, weaving structure itself, The Bauhaus and Brutalism, the woven textiles will suit any style of home. The fabric itself is created in a jacquard mill in Lancashire from extra fine merino wool, then washed and finished in the Yorkshire Dales. What's particularly great about Beatrice's model, is that having a load of fabric means you can create products to suit demand and availability. In the selection are throws, scarves, hot water bottle covers and cushions. Bea has been able to collaborate with many brands, and so is stocked at the prestigious Heal's, Tate Modern and Daylesford Organic.
Having worked with a Manchester mill for over 5 years, Rose has built up a solid relationship with her team of makers, and that allows for quality, precision and care. The knitted accessories are sumptuous and cosy in their colour palette, made from 100% lambswool spun and dyed in Scotland, with a repair service to ensure your item can continue its life. The packaging is also conscientiously considered, and beautiful to behold. I have had my socks and cushions for years now, barely washed, superbly comfortable and unique in design.
We'll forever be a fan of Emma Mathews' work towards sustainable socking. The whole premise is wonderful: creating socks from surplus yarns that are made in a family-owned Leicestershire mill, designed to be supportive and durable at the areas that get most wear, and that come with a little needle and thread for repairs. The socks I have are finally wearing out; again, barely hand-washed but very utilised. The addition of nylon is essential in creating a long-lasting sustainable sock, yet after three years of hard work, Emma has now released a line of "recycleds" from pre-consumer cutting floor cotton offcuts and post-consumer plastic bottles, with ECONYL® nylon. The socks are limited edition (so you definitely snoozed on the selection I have) and are anything but a normal Christmas sock gift. You can also bag yourself a hand-turned solid wood darning egg, with a surprise reel inside for your travelling thread.
You can see a presentation from founder Emma on mending and setting a mission for your business.
Navy Grey produce a small selection of knitwear designs that aim to be a hand-me-down, something to cherish for all of your years, just like you'd find from borrowing someone else's favourite. That comfortable, snuggly feeling of familiarity. They use superfine mulesing-free merino wool from New Zealand and lambswool from South Africa, shipped by boat to either Italy or Scotland for combiing, dyeing and spinning before manufacture into jumpers and cardigans in a female-led factory in Portugal. It's in understanding how these are no-fuss, well-designed knits in versatile colours that you can appreciate how most other jumpers (apart from ones you already own) aren't up to par.
Find out more about founder Rachel's process in our lesson and Professional Member highlight.
Ria is based in Bristol, in the South West of England, and uses a bespoke lambswool yarn from neighbouring Fernhill Farm - 15 miles away - for her knits. Championing the natural hues of British wool, Ria will also have some yarn in flashes of colour dyed using plants in her back garden. The manufacture is right in her studio on a vintage domestic machine, so for these garments and accessories, you're getting something super slow and special. Ria is also a member of the South West England Fibreshed. If you fancy a go at your own natural dyeing for yarn, you can buy a skein and raw ingredient!
You can learn about the South West England Fibreshed and the farm that supply Ria, right here in the lesson from Jen Hunter, 'How Is Responsible Wool Farmed And Processed?'
Another project from the South West area, Bristol Cloth is run by the founder of Botanical Inks, Babs Behan, and is a vision of what soil-to-soil production in fashion can be. It brings together community, heritage and the land to explore how a local system may work in reality. You can purchase cloth and scarves from the second fabric run, along with dyed and undyed hanks of yarn. From sheep at Fernhill Farm, to the plant dyed from Botanical Inks, to the weaving at the Bristol Weaving Mill, all of the production is within a 15 mile radius. It's so astonishing. A lot of hard work!
Listen to the story of Bristol Cloth via the link above, from our panel discussion with Babs and Jen.
Sheep Inc. create fully traceable jumpers, from sheep through to finished product. They're even carbon negative, and co-founder Edzard explained to us how this is possible in our lesson with him. A lot of research and brainstorming went into the brand idea and mission, to create a product that did not compromise on quality or traceability, and provided the wearer with a story of where the item came from. Made from merino wool, the jumpers are soft and cosy, and come in a small range of styles and colours - with beanies to match - and all with a RFID tag to trace the journey back to the sheep (hence, "sheep included"). They also have a superb website, that is engaging through playfulness and encourages you to check what the styles look like on different diverse models.
All of Rifò Lab's knitwear pieces are produced within a 30km radius, in the Prato region of Italy, which is famous for the quality of its recycled fibres and fabrics. They produce mainly recycled cashmere, which is almost a shame as it means there are enough discarded cashmere clothes to create new yarn from. They blend the yarns with merino wool, but also recycle denim for cotton yarn for other products. It's a really smart system, that works socially, environmentally and economically. As they produce all sorts of garments, they may not seem like a small business in comparison to the one-person shows as mostly recommended here, but to get a new piece of knitwear that is quality-made from waste to last your lifetime, this is a great option.
You can learn more about Rifo Lab in our lesson with founder Niccolò Cipriani here.