Kent-based designer maker Suzie Lee hand crafts a beautiful selection of Fair Isle wraps, throws, cushions and accessories in stunning colour combinations. We asked her to share the story behind her designs and what inspires her.
Describe what you do, and tell us what’s special about it
I take inspiration from nature and our surroundings to design and create knitwear using vintage knitting machines and hand knitting. The yarn we use is Scottish-spun pure lambswool which feels luxurious and soft. I love to combine colour blocks that work brilliantly together and adds a really contemporary and unique twist on the Fair Isle traditional design.
What’s your favourite way to start the day and when do you start work?
I’ve always been a night owl, so my day always starts late in the studio. I must have a strong cup of tea to start the knitting.
What’s your morning routine?
The usual, check the emails and social media I like to see what the world has been up to while I’ve been sleeping. My days are always varied so mostly I would be setting up little production lines each week, I like to have lots of different jobs on the go at the same time.
Where/what is your work? Describe the setting for us
I work from home in my lovely farm cottage studio full of colourful yarns in Kent.
Here’s a video of Suzie at work
Why you do what you do?
I’ve always been quite independent, so when I finished University studying Fashion and Textiles specialising in knitwear I wanted to go it alone and experience the world designing knitwear developing and growing each year. It makes it very satisfying to see my customer reactions to our collections. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else with such variety.
Sum up your ethos and what inspires you
Surrounding yourself with colour is like therapy, wearing natural soft fibres makes you feel warm and cosy it invokes a happy feeling. Creating these items every day makes me feel good, not just for the wearer. Keeping things British is always a key aspect to the business, where possible this is a high priority.
Favourite British design icon?
Paul Smith. I love his designs as well as his fun quirky nature.
Describe your typical working day for us – best and worst bits?
I knit on the machine pretty much every day. Other product processes mean I also use a linker to piece items together by hand. It’s my workout.
What keeps you going through the day?
I love the production process, having reached my goals of the day are simple pleasures. With a little help of Radio 2 to listen to.
Best moment so far in your business?
Reflection at the end of each year, after meeting at lot of lovely new and old customers and fellow designers at shows.
What are you most proud of?
Running a successful British made company and my new Fair Isle Wraps, I love them.
In a nutshell, what’s special/unique about what you do?
The continuation of a traditional craft and having complete control of using colours which inspire me.
How important is sourcing British/local to you – and why?
I would love to see the British manufacturing of our heritage crafts back to what they were. If I am a small part of that it’s a start.
Tell us about the local/British goods you use and why you chose them.
Many components of the business our sourced within the UK, I use Scottish spun lambs wool and all my cushion pads are British manufactured.
What’s your newest/most exciting creation?
My Fair Isle collection of accessories and home wear are new. They have been well received and the wraps were a sell out.
Best place to unwind/escape to in the British Isles?
Originally from Sussex I always love to go back there to see family. Brighton is a great place to visit as I went to Uni there, many fond memories and I love to see what’s new.
What are you listening to/reading right now?
The Biography of Frida Kahlo.