I’m often asked about my knitwear making process, so I thought it would be interesting to share some behind-the-scenes insights with you.
It’s also really important to me that I show you just how much love, care and attention to detail goes into every item I make. There’s no fast fashion here! Knowing how much my customers appreciate the quality and traditionally crafted nature of my knitwear, makes me very happy!
Where I work
I work from my home-studio nestled in the beautiful South Downs, hand-making each garment on my 1970’s Brother domestic knitting machine. It was a present from my husband when I first left the Royal College of Art.
It’s been incredibly robust and the only thing I’ve ever had to do is give it a quick clean and change a few broken needles. My husband and I joke that when I really start knitting in earnest for Christmas, sparks sometimes seem to fly from it!
Every stripe requires a yarn change
My signature look is very soft lambswool, with carefully chosen coloured stripes, blocks and geometrics but having so many different coloured stripes and patterns does create a complex process. Each stripe requires a yarn change which although not complicated, can be time very consuming.
I’m often asked if I would be prepared to have a small factory make some of my pieces but most factories would be put off by the number of colours I use. Some pieces require as many as 40 yarn changes!
I should perhaps think about a simpler design but quality, colour and my signature stripes are very important to me – and I don’t want to compromise on those.
Tying on new colour for a stripe colour change
Panels are sewn together
I knit up my designs in sections and then sew them together using my Brother sewing machine. Each stripe must be carefully matched up otherwise it can look mix-matched and mass produced.
Wristwarmers and neckwarmers are fairly quick to sew, but large wraps are incredibly time consuming and become such big pieces they are sometimes difficult to handle.
I love seeing each garment coming together at this stage in the process, they are still very raw. The knitted stitch stays very open and gauzy until they’ve been washed.
Knitted panels are carefully sewn together
The felting process
Once my designs are complete, they have to be carefully washed in the washing machine for the felting process. It’s always a bit of a nerve-racking time as things can go very wrong! I suppose a bit like putting pots into a kiln.
I have had whole wash loads of wrist warmers felt together into a one big mass which then become unusable. There is no rhyme or reason for it. Having built up experience, I generally know how many things I can put into a load of washing to get a good result.
My biggest fear is my washing machine breaking down in the few months before Christmas and having to reacquaint myself with a whole new machine.
I love working with wool
I love working with natural fibres. Lambswool is a highly-versatile, renewable fibre with the most wonderful texture and soft-hand feel. It’s also available in an array of beautiful colours. And because it’s a natural fibre, the colours have a real quality to them.
Lambswool is such a beautiful, natural fibre.
Delighted customers make me happy!
As the cold weather kicks in, I am delighted to have received some truly lovely customer reviews – thank you so very much! Keep an eye on my Instagram Stories where I will share them.
Please do keep them coming and tag me @kateboxknit on Instagram along with the hashtag #staytoasty.
Every tag, share, like or comment really does help us small businesses be more visible (and also supports me on my mission to keep people toasty warm in style this winter!).