I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Ruby Lee, the founder of Made & Worn. Along with Knitwear Designer, Alice Sleight, they have created a new concept in knitting. In this article I ask her about the original idea behind Made & Worn, find out where things are now and get a glimpse into their future plans.
WHERE THE IDEA GREW FROM
I am sure many of you can relate to Ruby's initial frustrations with knitting. As an long-term amateur knitter, she was messing up patterns, getting wound up and needed help that could be personalised for her. After meeting with other knitters, of different abilities, she realised that there were a bunch of knitting issues which had no easy solution.
This is when she began to imagine something that could solve these knitting nightmares. What's more, the budding entrepreneur decided that she would build it herself. The Made & Worn seed started to grow.
The concept of her idea was to make something with instructions for different patterns. HOWEVER the instructions had to be customised for the user. No blanket patterns. The knitter would be able to create shapes and be completely aware of what they were designing.
MADE & WORN
Made & Worn is an online platform which produces knitting patterns that work with any wool, any garment, any size, and any texture. It empowers you to design your own knitting patterns, giving you personalised step-by-step instructions. These easy to follow, visual instructions, enable you to create beautiful garments that are totally unique.
"No jargon, so swearing is reduced" Ruby reassured me.
You get to look through their online list of patterns, picking the knitwear that makes your eyes light up. Their simple process then helps you to pick a bunch of changes to design your new favourite garment. You decide on the colours, the texture, the style and the size.
The most amazing part is that the instructions will automatically adjust depending on your unique knitting style. Some knitters do tighter stitches, while others make their stitches looser. In standard patterns, this can change the entire shape of the finished garment. This is why some people struggle to make their completed garment look anything like the picture which came with the pattern...but not with Made & Worn and that's why we love it. They generate patterns based on each knitter’s individual gauge and technique.
We also love the colour picking process. Before buying the pattern you can select the colour of wool you want to use. So if you happen to have pink, blue and yellow in the house, you can select these colours and visually see straight away if they go together. You can select where you want to use each colour on your garment and see how it will look. Prices start from just £3, so you have so little to lose and so many beautiful garments to gain.
ABOUT RUBY AND THE EARLY DAYS
Ruby uses her handy background as an Engineer and mixes it with her interest in knitting. It is coding meets craft, and the results have been super successful. Ruby is a self-professed maker who grows her own veg and gets frustrated if she buys something that she could have made.
"Why stress about buying the next thing? Don't buy it. Enjoy making things." Ruby said while sharing her attitude on handmade, adding; "There is character in handmade".
Left to right; Ruby Lee and Alice Sleight
Ruby met Alice in a classic 'friend of a friend situation', and at the time Alice was still studying Knitting. In the meantime Ruby's idea was gaining momentum and she'd applied for The Catalyst programme created by the University of Southampton Science Park.
Spoiler alert; not only did Made & Worn get accepted onto The Catalyst programme, but they were even named the Catalyst Business of the Year in 2017. Well done ladies, that's brilliant!
During Ruby's Catalyst programme adventures, she spotted a picture of Alice which announced that she had passed her studies. Without a second thought, Ruby messaged Alice and explained the idea. Alice agreed to get on board and became the missing puzzle piece for Made & Worn. I asked Ruby how she'd describe their dynamic and she explained that "Alice is the designer who deals with shapes and textures. I make it happen."
It's an ideal setup where Alice creates the designs with her amazing creative side and Ruby works out the mathematics to code it. This enables the design to be shared with users across the world.
"WE COULD KNIT THEM IN OUR SLEEP"
They have put so much attention into their designs, Ruby admitted that they could probably knit them in their sleep. The team at Made & Worn put in months and months of hard work building designs and coding to make everything work seamlessly.
A lot has gone into creating a reliable company. "Don't poke your eye out with a knitting needle or wear a jumper which is too tight on a hot day" Ruby joked as we talked about the non-creative side to building the company, which includes Risk Assessments. The advice for not wearing a tight jumper on a hot day came from Ruby's personal experience; "I really wanted to wear a jumper I had handmade, even though it was too warm outside. It was actually crocheted, but shh, the knitting police will get us."
"TIGHT KNIT COMMUNITY"
Ruby also explained that it is important to them to be involved with the "tight knit community". That amazing pun wasn't lost on us!
They have invested a lot of time in meeting with knitters, doing demos at knitting shows and building focus groups to test out the patterns ("test knitters"). With the beauty of the internet they have met an abundance of people online and offline. They gain feedback from knitters all over the world including the Netherlands and USA. They have also held Knit and Natter evenings where you could knit with a beer!
It was lovely to see how Made & Worn are a craft company who aren't just out for profit. Although they have fantastic business skills, they also have good ethics and truly care about the end user. To give an example of their ethics, I spotted, and loved, that they use both male and female models for the same garment. Ruby explained to me that they try to keep everything gender-less. There is no waist shaping etc. so people can make that choice.
CHECK THEM OUT AND SUBSCRIBE
Make sure to subscribe to the mailing list for Made & Worn. You'll get to see all the new designs, information on events, find out more about this knitting revolution and even see exclusive invites for Test Knitters. They can be found on all the social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Photo Credit: Made & Worn