The Craft Scotland Summer Show is in full swing! Our unique pop-up shop offers a curated selection of distinctive homewares, handcrafted textiles, design-led jewellery and considered furniture from 33 of Scotland's talented makers. So come along and explore some of the best craft in Scotland together in one central location, away from the hustle and bustle of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
We've been catching up with our featured makers throughout August to give you a more in-depth understanding of the craftsmanship and inspiration that goes on behind the scenes. Next up we have Mary Macgregor, the creative force behind the Fair Isle knitwear brand, BAKKA. Drawing on inspiration from some of the oldest garments archived in the National Museum of Scotland, BAKKA offers contemporary, luxury knitwear made using 100% extra fine merino yarn.
Hello Mary, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have been researching and cataloguing Fair Isle knitting for nearly 20 years and recently launched heritage luxury knitwear business, BAKKA, at the end of 2016 which promotes and aims to help preserve the oldest traditional patterns and colours. I also aim to publish the fruits of this research in due course.
How did you end up doing what you do?
I have a mathematical/economic background and worked in the finance industry before taking a long maternity break. I have however always been fascinated by the intricate blending of Fair Isle motifs with bands of colours and when my children left home I moved to Shetland in order to start a business in this field.
How do you start designing a piece?
I start by finding an old traditional garment which inspires me. Then I chart out my pattern (just the motifs) using a computer programme called ‘DesignaKnit’ (Soft Byte Ltd). After that, I add the colour layer.
What's your favourite part of your making process?
Designing that initial rectangle and seeing how far I can push the traditional pattern without losing the link. Then seeing the first prototype knitted up.
What’s the hardest part of your making process?
The most tedious part is definitely the handwashing and steam pressing. My business is only 8-months old and my facilities are minimal. I am hoping to receive a grant to be able to install large sinks, hot water and a steam press of my own.
Thinking about one of your finished pieces, is there a celebrity who you would love to own your work?
I would choose an orchestra conductor, let’s say Simon Rattle, and I would imagine him wearing the wristwarmers V070 during rehearsals to keep his wrists supple.
What piece of craft do you aspire to own?
A sculpture, there are just so many to choose from. It would be made of stone or wood.
Who inspires you?
The life and works of Ottavio Missoni are very inspirational to me, but of course, his production was all before the internet was developed!
If you'd like to discover more of the work by our textile makers featured in the Summer Show, head over to our Pinterest board and start creating your wish list!
Find BAKKA at the Craft Scotland Summer Show
Friday 4 to Sunday 27 August
Mon-Wed, Fri-Sat: 11am - 6pm, Thurs: 11am - 7pm, Sun: Noon - 5pm
Second Floor, White Stuff, 89 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3ES
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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.