To celebrate British Wool week we interview Alison Phillips-Pearce who has created her own knitwear label in memory of the mother who taught her to knit
Brit Chic create future heirlooms to give as gifts to babies and children – the sort of things that mothers and grandmothers might knit for their newborn babies. Along with their own brand knitted collection, Brit Chic also sells other beautifully crafted products for children, all of which are made in Britain. Here we interview the company’s co-founder, Alison Phillips-Pearce, to find out what she thinks the future holds for British hand knitting.
Can you tell us a bit more about Brit Chic and why you decided to set the company up?
Brit Chic wants to offer something that is not seen as disposable, but rather a gift that is personal and that has the potential to be a keepsake or heirloom. The Brit Chic knitted collection was developed in memory of my mother. I inherited a shawl made by her from my sister for my newborn baby back in 2007, and at that point it was 10 years old and still in great condition, and it inspired me to want to create more knitted heirlooms like this for others. My mother taught me and my two sisters to knit at a young age, in fact one of my sisters now knits for the business.
Who makes your products and where are they located?
Each piece in the range is handknitted or crocheted by our very talented “knitting angels” who are based all over the country. Every one of our handknit/crocheted pieces is accompanied by a signature tag with the name of the “knitting angel” who made it. When we were building our Brit Chic range we were overwhelmed by the breadth of talented individuals that worked around the country in their homes and studios producing wonderful products.
How did you find your knitters?
The majority of my knitting angels were sourced through the UK Hand Knitting Association and through advertising locally. Most of them have other jobs and do the knitting in their spare time. One works as a carer by day and knits my kimono’s in the evenings. She has worked as a test knitter for big knitting companies in the past and has always had a passion to own her own wool shop. Another knits all of my crocheted smock bow tops whilst nursing her husband who had a terrible accident when they were on holiday.
What do you think can be done to encourage children and young people to get into knitting?
Knitting has become much more fashionable in recent years, but unless we share this craft it will die. Often it is passed on from mother to daughter. Children are like sponges and are generally very interested in making things. Knitting is a way of allowing them to express themselves through making something that is unique to them. My son is 5 and is already interested in knitting as he sees that it is something I do, and loves the idea that I make something especially for him.
When I was in school I was taught needlework, but there is no reason why the art of knitting cannot be part of this curriculum. It would be so easy to build in knitting into history, geography and science classes.