Thursday, April 7, 2011

The North Circular

The north circular values are as warm and fuzzy as their knits! The self-proclaimed idea of “creating a knitting empire fueled by grannies hand knitting” has become a beautiful reality. The label has been built with a wonderful sense of community and patriotism. Supporting local UK farmers in a dying industry, the label also embrace traditional art of knitting, which they outsource through their ‘knitwork’.

Their latest collection 'Metamorphous’ contains a luscious range that makes us beach dwellers head for the crisp mountain air craving an opportunity to snuggle into a North Circular creation. Director Katherine Poulton tells us a more…

What inspired you to start The North circular?
The very talented knitting grandmothers of myself and Lily. We were lucky enough as children to always have a handmade sweater. We thought it would be brilliant to support hand knitters and create a business model that was about supporting the British wool industry, as well as creating knitwear we really wanted to wear.

The idea grew when we met Izzy, who was running the sheep sanctuary and her clothing label Izzy lane. She showed us the state of the UK wool industry and how it has suffered from foreign imports. We got really excited about how we could create an ecologically sound, low carbon footprint garment, which supported hand traditions and employment in the UK. When Alice (a St Martins knitwear graduate working at rag and bone) joined OR When Alice - a St Martins knitwear graduate working at rag and bone- joined we created the strong design aesthetics and wearability of the brand…and so the north circular was born.

Where are you based?
The sheep are in Yorkshire, the design team in London and the grannies are dispersed all over the UK.

Why is staying local important to the label?
There is no need for a huge carbon footprint on wool being shipped around the world when we have amazing wool in the UK. Connecting the local wool with the local knitter, supporting the UK spinners, dye houses and creating a truly British product is key for us.

Can you tell us a bit about who knits your garments? How did you get in contact with them?
We are on the knitwork!! They contact us!
They are aged between 96 and 21. We started with knitters we knew and then once we were on the BBC news we have floods of people wanting to knit for us.

What's next?
To open other 'circles' in other countries using closed country production, like the north circular. We want to support local garment makers using the local hand traditions, animals or plantations, to create fabric and bespoke garments but with the same strong north circular design aesthetic.

Check out some of the great interviews with there star knitters at

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