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Miriam Griffiths Knitwear

by Angie Boyer

Published: May 2017

craft&design Highly Commended Newcomer at BCTF 2017

It was good to see knitwear back on trend again at this year's British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate, with several designer makers exhibiting really interesting work in the Newcomers Gallery. It was Miriam Griffiths who really grabbed our attention when judging for our Newcomer Award though, her use of colour and texture effectively enhanced the superb quality of her design and making and her stand and presentation were excellent. In addition to considering the work, we also look for a good sense business awareness and Miriam was clearly confident about all of that, especially her pricing for trade and retail, a really important factor for makers just starting to sell their work.

Miriam makes small scale runs of luxury knitwear, all the pieces are created from high quality locally sourced materials with a focus on using natural materials.  She explains, "I enjoy using local suppliers as I can just call them up and can rely on the postage being fast rather than having to wait for yarn to come from Italy or further, it also keeps my carbon footprint low. All the knitwear I make is hand framed using domestic and semi-industrial knitting machines, before being hand finished by me to a high standard." It was that "high standard" and attention to quality that contributed towards Miriam winning our Highly Commended Award!

She designs, knits and finishes her stylish knitwear collections in her studio at the Yorkshire Artspace Exchange Place Studios in Sheffield, an inspirational and supportive workspace for designer makers. "It's an brilliant place to work, all the buildings are full of other artists or makers who you can learn and share skills and tools with and there are always people on hand to ask advice from. YAS are a great source of information about events and opportunities, too."

 

Miriam tells me that her aim is to "create innovative craft clothing that is exciting yet wearable and easy to integrate into your daily wardrobe. The garments are simple to create a platform for the textiles and colour, but still create interesting shapes around the body. Colour is usually the starting point in my design process and is applied in a way that means the knitting machine dictates the final effect. The craft of making clothing and textiles has always been a driving force for my work and I take inspiration from traditional techniques and textiles from around the world. I am interested in using traditional techniques in a modern way to create modern clothing, but to still keep the characteristic of handmade clothing. I am an advocate for slow fashion and I feel people should buy less but buy better and that is part of my brand ethos."

Although Miriam's is a relatively young business, her work has already been featured in a variety of magazines and I was curious to know how she had achieved such a wide range of coverage for her knitwear.

"Through my university I have a profile on the University of the Arts London's ‘Showtime’ site, an online gallery that features up and coming artists and designers. A lot of stylists and photographers use it to find interesting students' and graduates' work and I've had some good contacts through it."

She also has her work featured on the Vogue Italia website, an exciting and prestigious achievement, so how did that come about? "The fashion photographer, Ramses Radi contacted me and asked if he could borrow some pieces of mine for a shoot he was organising. I sent them off and after a couple of months he sent me an email back to let me know that they had been featured on the Vogue Italia website! I was amazed."

 

Miriam currently has a place on the Craft Council's Hothouse programme, which supports new makers at the start of their careers. "It's a great six month long business training scheme with seminars and one-to-one mentoring sessions. There is also a two day residential which is a brilliant opportunity to really bond with the other makers on the course. The speakers at the seminars are really prestigious and all the advice and information feels like it will be integral to growing my business into being sustainable. I also feel that being on Hothouse has helped because having the Crafts Council's name behind me gives people faith in me and my work."

 

I'm sure there's a great future ahead for Miriam and she has a clear and interesting view of the path she'd like to take in the immediate future, "I would love to see my work developing to be completely unisex and to create a great unisex brand as I think in our current climate, and as gender is becoming more fluid, this is something that is really important to move towards. I would also like to start integrating elements of technology into my work and try to do some work using algorithms as I think the clash between modern technology and traditional craft can have interesting outcomes."

One important question that I had for this award winning knitwear designer maker was what advice would she have for artists and makers thinking about exhibiting in the Newcomers Gallery at bctf 2018?

"It's definitely a great place to be for your first trade show as it is really well organised and the organisers are always very happy to give you advice. All the other exhibitors were really friendly and it didn’t feels scary or competitive. I would advise people to know and practise their prices and a small spiel about their work so they are ready when people fire questions at them."

I did have a final comment for Miriam, about the great photography of her work that I'd been admiring on her stand. Her images are credited to Peter Griffiths, who I assumed to be a relative?

"Yes, Peter Griffiths is my Dad. He is also a fine artist and photographer. It is great working with someone I know so well, as it's easier to express my vision to him, rather than working with a photographer who has their own idea of what the final outcome should look like."

Sounds like great team work to me!

 

There's more information at www.miriamgriffiths.co.uk

and www.craftmaker.co.uk/miriamgriffiths 

 
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