Scottish borders resident Kate Henderson tells us why being in an area renowned for its history in knitwear and yarn manufacture led to her launching the Scottish textile company Kate Samphier
Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and why you set up your company?
After studying textiles in the Scottish Borders, I worked for a local woollen spinner for 5 years as a yarn and knit fabric designer. I then began to create my own knitted accessories to illustrate the versitility of the company’s yarn ranges which led to me setting up the Kate Samphier design studio and workshop in 2000. A design consultancy service followed, offering a variety of design solutions to International retailers and manufacturers, including knitted fabric design, colour and yarn direction and product styling.
How would you describe the products that you make?
Inspired by traditional knitting in Scotland, my collections embrace Scottish knitwear manufacture, challenging tradition with an eclectic use of colour, texture and pattern. I specialise in the design and creation of knitted accessories for women, babies and the home.
In which part of Britain are you based?
In the Scottish Borders, 40 miles south of Edinburgh near the market town of Melrose.
Why did you decide to manufacture in Britain?
Based in an area renowned for its history in knitwear and yarn manufacture, I had no hesitation in using the resources and craftmanship available on my doorstep – it makes me commercial in so far as I have bulk production available if required in the form of experienced hand knitters and finishers in the area. This gives me complete flexibility and a quick turnaround.
Who makes your products?
I combine production with my hand knitters and a small manufacturing unit in Galashiels who can produce anything from 1 – 100 units per style as required. The beauty of my collections are the fact that they are mainly small runs, made to order, sometimes personalised in some way for the client.
Where do you source your raw materials from?
My raw material is sourced in the UK, from yarn manufacturer Knoll Yarns based in West Yorkshire (to whom I act as design consultant), and cashmere spinner Todd & Duncan, based in Kinross, Scotland.
What has been the hardest part of getting your products made in Britain?
To be honest, I have had no production problems to speak of at all. I think the main issue is always going to be price, but customers do value the quality and craftmanship in the pieces I produce.
And what has been the best part?
The best part I think is the experience I have gained along the way – I have had the pleasure of working with spinners and colourists in woollen mills and knitting factories that have sadly now closed – experience that students in textiles will not have the oportunity to gain in the uk as easily now. These people have learnt skills handed down through generations and that is something I have always valued.