• The Inside Stitch - Lucy Donnell

    Based in Glasgow, Lucy Donnell is an independent designer with her own label who creates her own luxury Scottish knitwear including scarves, snoods, mitts, headbands, cushions and hotties. Knitted from finest lambswool in the Scottish Borders.


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    Why did you start working in the textiles industry?

    After I left Secondary school, I managed to secure a place studying for a degree in Textile Design at Glasgow School of Art. During my studies I worked across the textiles disciplines of print, weave, knit and embroidery, before choosing knit as my specialism.

    In 2014, after much planning, I launched my own knitwear design business with a collection of knitted accessories. I wanted to make use of Scotland’s strong history, skills base and international reputation for quality knitwear, and I’m currently working with a team of professional knitters in the Scottish Borders.

  • What do you think is so special about the industry?

    Historically, the Scottish Borders in particular was a key producer of knitted textiles. Despite a reduction in the scale of the industry due to cheap offshore manufacturing, Scotland retains a reputation for high quality and produces luxury knitwear for many high end design houses and retailers. I’m a strong believer in the benefits of local manufacturing, ethical production and sustainability, and it’s great to both support and capitalise on the valuable skills we have in Scotland.

    Name one (or more!) Scottish designer/manufacturer that you admire.

    One of my favourite Scottish textile manufacturers at the moment is Bute Fabrics, who produce really lovely quality woven fabrics from wool, with high ethical standards and sustainable practices.

    I think Karen Mabon’s prints are really charming and vibrant and I particularly like her Midnight Feast silk scarf.

    I also love the Aran Knit sweaters from &Daughter. I’m a real fan of classic style done well.

  • What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned along the way?

    One of the most important things I’ve learned since starting up is the importance of my relationships. As hard as you work and as much planning that you do, you can’t always guarantee a smooth ride. I think building good relationships with suppliers, partners and customers makes a small business strong. 

    Are you currently working towards any major projects or plans?

    I’m currently working on new colour-ways that I will be introducing to my collection in early 2016, and a new product or two will be coming shortly too. This year I exhibited at Top Drawer in London for the first time and I’m working to take my collection further afield to increase sales for export.

  • What do you think will have the greatest impact on the Scottish textile industry in the next 10 years?

    I think Scotland’s skills base is incredibly important. It is really positive to find that large companies are starting to re-shore some manufacturing to Scotland, but there is a real need to train the younger generation and make sure that we don’t lose our skills in coming years. I’d love to see investment to encourage young people into knitting apprenticeships, for example.

    What words of advice do you have for the next wave of upcoming talent?

    I would say to gain support from where you can, in networking with other businesses and designers, and working with organisations that can provide advice and training. 

  • Do you have any other insights or interest besides textiles?

    I’m passionate about anything local and sustainable. I think it’s important to make our choices with the future in mind, and I love attending design led makers markets, where I can shop beautiful crafts. I love travelling the West Coast of Scotland, and have tried to incorporate some of its beautiful scenery into my knitwear designs. I’ve made trips so far to many of the Hebridean Islands, and now just have a few left on my list.

    And finally, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

    I’d like to expand the business year on year, launching new collections and increasing my product range. I see exporting becoming a large part of my business and would expect to be travelling to trade events, particularly in Europe and Japan.