Kate Box Knit studio sneak peek

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!

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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!).

SHOP THE RANGE

Upcoming Christmas Events

With just 61 days until Christmas, it is all systems go here at Kate Box Knit HQ! November is a particularly busy month as I will be popping up at some brilliant Hampshire events. So, if you’re local, please do come along and say hello! With the colder weather now here to stay, it’s the perfect time to wrap up and keep warm in style with a new season Kate Box Knitwear design.

November events - come say hello!

The Watoto Christmas Fair

Where: The Tithe Barn, Ditcham, Petersfield, GU31 5RQ

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When: 9-4pm, Tuesday 7th & Wednesday 8th November.

Details: The Watoto Trust is a charity that believes by relieving poverty and educating children the world can become a better place. They provide sponsorship for individual, bright, impoverished Kenyans as well as increasing awareness of the problems facing Kenya including pressure on natural resources and loss of habitat. 

More info: www.watototrust.org/events/

 

Wyld’s Farm Launch Party

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Where: Wyld’s Farm, Warren Road, Liss. GU33 7DF 

When: 6.30-9.30pm, Friday 10thNovember.

Details: Come and celebrate at the 2017 Season Launch, there will be tasty, hot, street food, gift shopping, live music and The Apres Tree Bar stocked with gin, rum and mulled wine! 

For more information on further opening hours please visit: 

www.wylds-farm-christmas-trees.co.uk

 

Farnham Maltings Christmas Fair 

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Where: Farnham Malting Christmas Fair, Bridge Square, Farnham, Surrey. GU9 7QR 

 When: Wed 29th Nov 1pm-9pm  & Thurs 30th Nov 10am-8pm

Details: A fantastic local event, featuring a bustling marketplace with over 150 stands specialising in handmade gifts, unique stocking fillers, crafts, vintage, food and drink. 

More info: www.craft.farnhammaltings.com/portfolio/christmas-fair/

 

Can’t make it to an event? All Kate Box Knit designs are available online  – SHOP THE RANGE.

Buying for a friend or relative and not sure what they’d like? We also offer Kate Box Knitwear gift vouchers, please email kate@kate-box.co.uk – the perfect gift for a winter birthday or Christmas.

My story........Kate Box Knitwear

I’m always fascinated to learn more about the amazing small business owners that I meet - to find out more about their personal stories and how they came to be doing what they do now. So, this week I thought it would be fun to kick-off my weekly seasonal blog with sharing a little bit about myself and my career path.

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I always knew I wanted to go to art college and started with a foundation course at Winchester to try out lots of different art and design disciplines. Textiles just clicked for me. I went on from Winchester to Chelsea college of Art where I did a degree in Textile design and then finally did an MA in Knitwear at the Royal College of Art.

 

My final collection at the Royal College of Art was spotted by the designers from Ghost and I was offered a 3-month placement with them over the summer. It was very creative and I worked on some one-off pieces for their catwalk show which was exciting. After my placement had ended there I took a job as a design assistant at Pringle which was very different, as you would imagine working in a large corporation to be. Designing was all about sales figures and what would be most commercial, I absolutely hated it but with hindsight I can see the benefit of gaining that experience. I was only there for a year when I got the job as design assistant to Orla Kiely which was a dream position. It was a hugely creative company that put emphasis on good design. The design team were well supported and looked after and Orla was/is an incredible designer.

 

After I had my daughter we knew that we wanted to move out of London and with that meant leaving my job at Orla Kiely. Moving to Hampshire was a new start and I accepted that that would mean moving my career in a different direction.

 

It wasn’t really a conscious decision to set up a business designing knitwear. I just sort of fell upon it by making things for friends and then finding a shop in my local town that would stock a few things that I was making. When I look back, the products to begin with were very hit and miss but things slowly evolved and I hope they keep evolving.

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I like to walk or cycle my children to school- I enjoy getting out for some fresh air before I start working. When I get home, I make a coffee and then normally tackle any emails that need doing as I’m much better at computer/written work first thing in the morning. I’ll start knitting on the machine around 10 and tune into Woman’s Hour. After that I’ve been known to knit and watch any type of gardening programme I can, Monty Don presenting if possible! At 3pm, I down tools and resume my other role as mum, collect children from school and normally offer a taxi service to football or Brownies. Once everyone has been fed, washed and put to bed the work will sometimes resume. I’m not one for working too late though as I really like my sleep!

 

I find colour and design quite intuitive, everything influences it subconsciously- exhibitions, seasons, films, etc. I’m not sure I could pin point one thing that is a big influence. I really enjoyed the Vanessa Bell exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery this year.

 

My favourite part of running my own business is definitely the flexibility around the children coupled with being my own boss. My least favourite is that it’s very difficult to turn off – it’s like having a third child that I’m always thinking about!

 

The best piece of business advice that I’ve been given? It’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly – Robert Schuller. I have to constantly remind myself of this quote!

 

If you haven’t entered already, at the moment I’m running a competition on Facebook to win a pair of wristwarmers - follow the link to be in with a chance! 

 https://www.facebook.com/KateBoxKnit/posts/1499580833463429:0