Cadogan Cardigans – so named as I thought it was good alliteration especially as cardigans were exactly what I made when I initially started my knitwear business. That has now developed into the production of jumpers, tunics and lots of accessories such as mittens and scarves too.
People ask how I got into making designer knitwear, and of course all craftsmen have interesting stories to tell about how it all began. For me, it was finding a second-hand knitting machine in my Mother-in-Law’s attic in 2006. At one time she had used it to make her children’s clothes but it now lay redundant – just waiting for me! I had to teach myself how to use it because there was no instruction book, I couldn’t find any pattern books for machine knitting and certainly no YouTube videos back then. It was a steep learning curve, but after 4 months of concentrated effort I got the hang of it and was on my way to creating a new business.
My family are all practical, artistic people and were a great inspiration to me over the years. My great Aunt Winnie was an amazing knitter and she and my Mother taught me hand knitting. My Father taught me how to crochet – he’d picked that up when he was doing his National Service!
I have been working with textiles in many forms almost all my life, including dressmaking, pattern cutting and millinery. My designer knitwear is the culmination of my enduring love of working with fabrics and textiles. I am currently based in Devon and have run my knitwear business for 14 years.
Many craftsmen are selling online now, and I have created an online shop and extended my range of accessories which now include needle-felted bags, mittens and mufflers. It is harder to sell larger pieces such as cardigans and jumpers when they can’t be tried on or even touched, so I have been concentrating on these smaller items. Colour is so important too as computer screens can alter the true colour, so I’m looking forward to customers being able to see and try on my garments again. Like all the other craftsmen I know, I am looking forward to doing shows later this year.
I joined the Sussex Guild in 2007 and it has been an excellent way to present my designer knitwear to the public. I enjoy being able to interact with people at the Guild shows – the other members and the customers who I know have also been missing coming along to our shows. Hopefully, by mid-Summer, we’ll be back in full swing.