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Art in the Frame > Artists > Jacki Sanders
Jacki Sanders

My initial interest in knitwear started about 25 years ago when I lived in the Inverness area of Scotland. A chance meeting with an elderly Crofting hill farmer in my early twenties, who still worked her own flock with dogs, totally fascinated me. She sheared her own sheep, spun, dyed and then knitted the wool into garments.

Using natural dyes from what was available locally, Gean, Gorse, Nettle, Bramble, Elderberry and Onions and a fixing mordant, she created soft, subtly hues that even now remind me of Scotland.
I was lucky enough to be given some of her handwritten notes when she died. Years later when working in London, I could not find the type of ‘Sloppy Joe’ Sweater that I craved (unless I was prepared to pay around £150.00) and on a visit home to my parents in Drumnadrochit, I asked my Mum to explain how to knit something similar. She reminded me that as a 12 year old I had won a prize at school for a Lime Green Sweater than I had knitted!

It took me a long time to finish the first garment in cotton, but whenever I wore it in London, it attracted interest.
I decided to handknit a small amount of garments to gauge public opinion, and exhibited them at a Craft Fair at The Royal Chase Hotel, Enfield, where I frightened myself to death by selling out!
It was at this point that I started to seriously ‘mess around’ dyeing cotton garments.
At first it was a total nightmare, if I made a mistake with the dye the whole garment potentially could be ruined. Many a time I tried to create a subtle green garment and it turned out brown or a slushy pale yellow!

My husband bought me a book for my birthday on Natural Dyeing by J Crook, and this has helped me tremendously, however some of the original notes I was given appear to be unknown – they are my trade secrets now!
I then realised very quickly, that I needed help in producing garments and have persuaded three family members to knit for me.

I offer reasonably priced garments that are unique, that can not be bought in the shops, in soft, subtle colours and styles that flatter every womans shape. It often crosses my mind if the purchaser is aware of how many hours actually go into producing a hand knitted garment.
I purchase cotton from both a supplier in Holland, and more recently India, as a result of regular visits – it is a place that never ceases to fascinate me. The vibrant colours that they create in both textiles and fabrics are fascinating.
I dye a lot of my garments personally at home in Oban, but many are now knitted with cotton pre-dyed for me by the above supplier in Europe using my natural dyes, on the understanding that he does not sell to the UK.

I am a member of the Essex Guild Of Craftsmen and I sell my hand knits personally at Craft Fairs based at Sandringham, Hatfield House, Mapledurham, Burghley, Woburn and Dorchester County Show yearly.
I do not have a shop (out of choice), but when I have plenty of garments in stock I advertise them on my website www.island-knitwear.co.uk. .

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