Up Beat Knitting – Weardowney

Up Beat Knitting  – Weardowney

Knitting is officially cool - a vast array of knit cafés and holiday breaks are there for the taking. But how about a successful knitwear...

Guy Brighton
  • 22 march 2006

Knitting is officially cool – a vast array of knit cafés and holiday breaks are there for the taking. But how about a successful knitwear designer teaching you how to knit? Hidden in the regal backstreets of London town the Weardowney family are sure to throw you in the deep-end and give you a sense of old-fashioned community. Michelle Morton-Banks meets Gail Downey at the ‘Get Up’ Boutique…

Quaint but ‘Up’ Beat
London’s Baker Street is not without their quaint history, further along, in the middle district of Marylebone, Weardowney’s knitwear boutique ‘Get Up’ adds to the English eccentric charm. As I walk briskly to Ashbrige Road cold air bites at my face, I wish I were covered head to toe in wool. As I reach the boutique, I see a building that resembles an old Victorian tearoom – ageing plants in distressed pots dotted outside the buildings exterior and old dark paintwork peels away from the large slash windows.

At the old front door, ex-model Gail Downey greets me – unfortunately fellow ex-model and partner, Amy Wear is not at the’ Get Up’ store today. Gail’s eyes are piercing, she has a shock of thick dark hair but her face is soft, her smile inviting. Already I feel relaxed. Closing the door behind me I scan the room a see little that reminds me of clothes shop, apart from rails of delicate beautiful knitwear for women – everything seems placed in a haphazard manner – that’s part of the boutiques charm. Gail apologies for the mess and leads me to the duo’s Spring Summer collection. Entering the L-shaped room I turn to face large bowls of wools and three content girls fastidiously knitting. Not a pattern in sight. The Weardowney family I see is not just a fashion label run by ex-models, it’s a place that creates a strong sense of community.

Galliano Turns Models to Designers
Gail, part of the duo, began her love for knitting in a traditional manner – with her Grandmother – and it was her mother who developed her commercial level. Gail’s success in knitwear came much later. While working as a model for John Galliano, she was asked by the alpha designer to create pieces for his collection. After that point there was no stopping her – her recent collection Whistle-Blower is testament to her ability to create a new ideas for knitwear. An amalgamation of thick wool knee- high stocks, medieval balaclava hats and super feminine pieces – like a cream cable knit baby doll dress, perfectly ladylike but earthy – without being bohemian.

Knitting Creates Community
The Whistle- Blower collection is a small part of Gail’s love for knitting, it’s her showpiece, but that’s not her limit, she says, “I’m not precious of my skills” instead Gail is content to spread her knowledge for all to learn, the ‘Get Up’ boutique also offers knitting lessons. Gail explains the importance of this pastime “Knitting allows you to slow down and take control at your own space” and in a society obsessed with the fast-pace of the web-sphere, this is refreshing to hear. Some intellectual thinkers see the growth of community as central to cultural development. And although the web-sphere has created a different sense of community – with the likes of MySpace – which delivers virtual group connections, physical authenticity is an attractive proposition. That’s probably why knitting has become a popular pastime. “Its anti-chav’ says Gail, and “anti fast track technology”. She continues: “Knitting makes you experience self-appreciation without being self-absorbed” this notion, compared to the fashion industry Gail is part of, seem to be worlds apart. But then its a about time someone devised a plan to help everyone be part of something real? In ‘Bowling Alone’ Robert D. Putman discusses the decline of American society and how ‘social capital’ is its only saving grace. Weardowney’s modest little boutique is doing exactly that, creating social capital and nurturing the health of weary information abused society. The practice of knitting grounds the most urban-crazed of individuals – without being contrived.

Pushing Pupils Forward
With a twinkle in her eye, Gail tells me she is fond of throwing her students in at the deep end. One of her success stories – also one of her interns – began knitting three weeks ago and recently finished a cowl-neck top for the Spring/Summer ’06 collection. I look at the garment and find this hard to believe, its perfect. Gale explains her passion for teaching, and says “I love it when people make mistakes and learn from them… people’s personalities come out quite strongly”.

The classes invite a diverse cross-section of aspiring knitters, ranging from a 42-year-old Japanese man wanting to make scarves, to glamorous types that are jumping on the trend-wagon. Gail tells me it’s all about loosing fear – either way, I’m sold – If I can produce clothes that look as good as the ones on the rails I’m happy to pick up knitting needles and try. I leave the ‘Get Up’ boutique with the feeling I’ve attended a yoga class – Calm, content and happy – and I did not even hold a knitting needle.

The US also has many knitting cafés and communities:



Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile Yesterday

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture Yesterday

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms


Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Design Yesterday

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion Yesterday

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times


Scott Ballum

Environment, Retail, Online Media

Syndicated Yesterday

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability Yesterday

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords


Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders

PSFK Op-Ed august 25, 2016

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising Yesterday

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising Yesterday

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings


Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games

Design Yesterday

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia Yesterday

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising Yesterday

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.