Katie Allen is a Shepherd and Maker; custodian of the land and advocate for her flock of British, native breed sheep. Based in the Cotswolds, she works to connect more people with the reality that our clothes come from farming, just like our food. Her hand-crafted, 100% traceable knitwear demonstrates how British wool can be grown regeneratively, simply and locally processed, resulting in clothing that is beautiful, honest and good for the earth.
There is no better way to assure the quality of your raw material than by growing it yourself. As the farmer, designer and garment producer for her knitwear, she takes responsibility for each stage of production – from getting her hands dirty in the field, to fully fashioning each garment on her knitting machine. She uses shepherding processes that honour soil and biodiversity to encourage a wholesome farmed environment, alongside careful attention to slow, hand-crafted production. Her compassion for her sheep and the land they graze, combined with an innovative commitment to regional, low-carbon processing enables her to work sustainably all along her supply chain and create an important connection between people, place and product.
Her work with the flock immerses her in the outdoors. As a designer she sees beauty in simplicity and constantly takes inspiration from the seasonal British countryside and her surroundings; a hedgerow bursting with colour and wildlife, or the ageing roof rafters of an abandoned woodshed.
She creates her garments using the no-waste knitting process of fully fashioning – whereby each piece of the garment is knitted separately and then sewn together by hand. Using a hand-powered knitting machine, means no electricity is used in their construction and she employs a complex technique called intarsia for her larger block patterns that require careful hand-finishing.
Every piece is distinctive in design offering bold patterns and eye-catching colour. Authentic in origin, they are bound to the journey of her shepherding life – from delivering lambs and watching their fleeces grow throughout the season, to shearing time and handing over her wool clip to the mill. When she runs the threads of yarn through her hands on the knitting machine, knowing she’s spent the year caring for the animals that produced it, she feels a profound connection to her work.