Home is where the art is for Ann and army of knitters

Ann Todd shows off her knitting skills at 'Eribe' a knitwear design company in Galashiels.
Ann Todd shows off her knitting skills at 'Eribe' a knitwear design company in Galashiels.

Like many women of her vintage, Ann Todd from Kelso was taught how to knit by her mother, writes Andrew Keddie.

It was a pastime she always enjoyed through bringing up a family and pursuing a career as a physiotherapist.

But it became more than a hobby three years ago when Ann, now 54, having taken early retirement from NHS Borders, answered the call of Eribé Knitwear Design of Galashiels.

The firm was on the look-out for experienced hand-knitters who were prepared to work at home to produce ladies garments and Ann was happy to take up the challenge.

She is now one of a team of more than 50 hand-knitters who have helped Eribé earn an international reputation for its vintage range of sweaters and accessories which grace top department stores from New York to Tokyo.

And today the ladies, who normally work in isolation, will come together for a special celebration – a tea party at the Kingsknowes Hotel in Galashiels to mark the company’s 25th anniversary.

Ann has more reason than most to be grateful for becoming part of the Eribé knitting family.

She revealed: “I had, since childhood, been interested in fabrics and often wished I had studied textiles, but family and my career obviously had priority.

“But after helping create these beautiful garments, some of which can take 70 hours to knit, I made the decision to try and fulfil my dream and enrolled for a BTEC course, a vocational route to higher education, in textiles at Borders College.

“I can now combine work with study and may well have the opportunity, if I decide to take it, to go for a degree in textile design at Heriot-Watt University, so it’s true to say that knitting has changed my life.”

Also looking forward to today’s event is Rosemary Eribé who founded her company in 1986.

“What Ann and the other hand-knitters do is a real labour of love which is really appreciated by our designers and, of course, our customers know they are getting something which is totally unique,” said Rosemary.

The combination of skilled craftsmanship and contemporary design is manifested in a range of garments in natural wools and inspired by the glamour icons of the 1940s and ‘50s.

And it has helped Eribé win a number of industry accolades, including the UK Fashion Export Award for Ethical Fashion and, this year, the BEA International Trader of the Year Award.

The firm’s celebrations will continue on October 20 when its international agents from Japan, Italy and Spain will visit the Manse Street studio in Galashiels for a presentation on Eribé’s plans and ambitions for the future.