Collingwood-Norris Design

Scottish Borders

About Collingwood-Norris Design

Flora Collingwood-Norris specialises in luxury knitwear, with an emphasis on hand knits and crochet, which she combines with other techniques such as embroidery.

Based in the Scottish Borders textile and knitwear heartland, she graduated in 2009 from Heriot Watt University (formerly the Scottish College of Textiles) with first class honours in Design for Textiles, winning the Doctor Oliver medal for best overall student of the year. Her collection was sponsored by Todd and Duncan, and shown in ‘Hanatsubaki’ magazine in Japan, with pieces displayed at the Borders Textile Towerhouse in Hawick.

Flora started hand knitting at age six, and learned crochet and lacemaking soon after. At university, she achieved the technical machine knit, fibre and garment knowledge to complement her craft skills and artistic flair.

She has worked on several prestigious projects, with work appearing in London Fashion Weeks for Christopher Kane, Jasper Conran and William Chambers Millinery. She designs and writes unique patterns for specialist yarn company Whistlebare, providing high-end expertise to bring out the best in its locally-produced yarns.

Preferring to use natural fibres, Flora’s approach is to encourage ethical practice and reduce environmental impact at all stages, from design to production. She has worked for People Tree, the fair-trade fashion pioneers, and with Afghani and Tajik knitters refining their skills to improve earning potential. She has recently taught at Heriot Watt University as a Teaching Fellow and technical demonstrator, and continues to mentor students.

Flora is now working on her own collection.

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Making for the Challenge

All my projects start with design and fabric development. The drawing and creation of fabrics go hand-in-hand – each informs the other. Then tension trials find the balance between getting a good handle and ensuring that the garment won’t pill too quickly or stretch too much.

Next, I plan and size the garment to create the technical outline. For this jacket, I wanted to make the most of the crochet, and this meant letting it dictate the length and shaping as much as possible.

The first step in making the jacket was the crochet. I joined the crocheted motifs as I made them, so the shaping took place at the same time. The sleeves were the most complex – it was a case of trial and error, making and re-doing! I fitted and adjusted the jacket on a mannequin and myself at each stage.

I hand-knitted all the trims directly into the crochet to make the jacket as seamless as possible. Then the back of the zip was covered with strapping knitted on my V-bed machine, as the finer gauge was needed in order to avoid it being too bulky.

After the crochet and knitting was finished and all the ends sewn in, the jacket was washed and pressed. Pressing has been crucial at each stage, for working out sizing and crochet placement, and after the wash to finish.

Lastly I put the zip in, and gave it a final press.

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