Meet the Maker : Anna Wheeler of Cotswold KnitPosted on 10th November 2022
Anna Wheeler shares the journey which led her to setting up her Oxfordshire-based company, Cotswold Knit. Anna describes Cotswold Knit as “A micro brand of design-led, artisan knitwear, gifts and accessories. Inspired by the seasonal colours of the British countryside, Cotswold Knit focuses on meticulous craftsmanship and folk-meets-fashion design”.
I graduated from the RCA in 2002 with an MA in Knitted Textile Design, and worked for Missoni in Italy for three years. I returned to London as a freelance designer and worked with Top Shop, Marks and Spencer, Tait & Style, Donna Karen, Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen, before taking a full time design position with Whistles.
In 2008 an opportunity arose heading up the knitwear department for Claire Campbell and HIGH Everyday Couture where I worked in Italy and the UK for 14 years.
In 2020 I began Cotswold Knit, designing and making knitted fashion and homeware accessories. It started as a lockdown project, making beautiful gifts for friends and family – it grew from being stuck at home trying to stay creative in my studio.
I am inspired by the British countryside and traditional heritage pattern and style, but add a modern twist to produce high quality, uplifting and original designs. All the garments are made in the UK.
By combining traditional techniques with a desire to make products relevant to modern life, I fuse heritage patterns with cutting-edge machinery and techniques.
I predominantly use Italian-spun natural yarns including merino, wool and yak. The yarns I use are selected for longevity and sumptuous feel.
Although my designs are produced using knitting machines, my products are very much hand crafted. I am an integral part of production and the finishing process and love the making process. I am currently learning how to program the industrial knitting machines, with a view to buying my own machinery and producing small batch production from my own studio.
My studio is currently at home in a small village on the edge of the Cotswolds. I have two smaller hand knitting machines, a 7gg domestic and a 12gg Dubied knitting machine, where I do all my designing and development of swatches and samples.
The spare bedroom doubles up as my photographic studio, and the front room often looks more like a stock room. Luckily my family is very supportive and everyone lends a hand when I get a big wholesale order. Running a small business single-handedly is all consuming, and I have learned so much over the past year.
My best selling items are the Hook Norton snood and hand warmers. These did so well last year that I have kept them in the collection again.
The new collection Blockly scarf and hand warmers are also doing very well. These come in five colours and the pattern detail is like no other knitted scarf. They feel amazing to wear because the yarn used is a super fine wool Boucle and this feels like soft fluffy fleece.
I love doing markets and fairs because it’s great to see customers’ reactions when they touch and feel my accessories. I really encourage people to touch and feel because it’s so hard to convey how nice something feels online.
My scarves are investment pieces. It’s so important we stop consuming so much fast throwaway fashion and try to make more considered purchases that are better quality and will last longer.
Visit the Cotswold Knit website.
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