The Adaptive Camouflage Collection

Hey, Jess here πŸ‘©β€πŸ¦°

This collection is based on my degree show collection all about reptiles and wood and the similarities and differences between them. Mine was a textile collection so Em helped a lot with these garment ideas! We came up with a jumper, a vest and a handbag using a mix of hand-knit and crochet – all made with 100% wool from New Lanark Spinning.

For this project, I focused on the ectothermic (cold-blooded) qualities of reptiles and how they respond to changes in their environment. Unlike us mammals, reptiles can’t automatically regulate their internal temperature, they rely on external sources like the sun to heat themselves up. With this idea in mind, I used pigments that changed colour when exposed to heat and light.

Unfortunately, these pigments weren’t made for wearable (or washable) garments, so we chose to make both the jumper and the vest reversible to keep with the ‘colour-changing’ theme. This collection shows the contrast between warm and cold, light and dark and the textures of wool and wood.

Final pieces for uni. πŸ’™

In Two Minds

The ‘In Two Minds’ jumper is a reversible, boxy crop with a roll neck and rib trim and cuffs inspired by the texture of wood. You basically get two jumpers in one! The stitch pattern was based on my colour study of the Yellow-Headed Day gecko and the abstract cut outs I made.

We chose to carry the wraps round to the other side and add ‘CAMOU-FLAGE’ text for a graphic, contemporary feel that fits with our first collection. (We have a blog on the ‘Brown Clan Collection’ if you fancy a read).

Sketchbook page. βœοΈ

Gila

The ‘Gila’ vest is a reversible crochet v-neck with ribbed arm and neck finishings. This bobbly pattern is based on the gorgeous scales of this Gila Monster lizard. I took colour inspo from the same colour study of the Yellow-Headed Day gecko, the pink is just a little brighter. Just like a lizard, you can choose either the warm or cool side depending on your mood. P.S. How cute is this lil’ guy!

Gila Monster.

Upscale

We’re so excited to release our first bag design! We really wanted to keep a tactile wood element with this design to tie in with my uni work. Every part of this bag is made by hand including the pine handles and label which are cut, varnished, painted and printed by us. Lookout for the pops of periwinkle! πŸ‘€

The ‘Upscale’ handbag was inspired by my uni sample (shown at the top of this blog) which was based on this guy, the African Bush Viper.

Bush Viper that inspired the bag. 🐍
(secondary image)

It’s been so fun developing my old textile designs into bold, wearable knit and crochet pieces for you guys to wear. Now both of our uni collections are out there, you’ve had a glimpse of mine and Em’s original design styles. From here on out, Ellis and Low will be a fusion of both and we’re very excited about it!

Thanks for reading if you got this far! Our designs hold a lot of meaning so we appreciate you taking the time to see what goes into them.

Check out the collection on Etsy – http://www.etsy.com/shop/ellisandlow

Em and Jess πŸ’™

Revamp

At the end of last year, we found ourselves in a bit of a slump with the business. We realised we hadn’t been coming across as we’d like to, so since the start of 2021 we’ve been working hard to change that.

If you’ve followed us from the start you’ll know that we released our first three products last year. We love what we made but the designs were purposely simplistic, thinking about what people might want instead of what we really wanted to create.

After looking back at our uni work, we had an epiphany – why the hell haven’t we used this?! We both really enjoyed our uni projects and each developed our own unique style. Thinking about it, we realised we were scared of what people would think. Are our designs too out there? Are they wearable? Will people actually like them?

There are so many designers/brands that are successful for just being themselves, so from here on out we’re going to create things we love in our authentic design styles starting with both of our final uni collections. After all, that’s what led us to start this venture in the first place.

Since Em’s degree is in fashion design, she already had two gorgeous sample jumpers designed and knitted up as well as a pair of earrings so we’ve adjusted them slightly and now, our first (proper) collection is ready!

Photography

Another problem we had was our photographs, they didn’t come out how we’d envisioned. As we’ve said before, neither of us particularly enjoy being in front of the camera and it really showed. Alas, thanks to covid we haven’t been able to work with any actual models so we’ve had to make do. We’re super happy with our latest shoot though cause we thought you know what, let’s just be ourselves and also, we love wearing these fun jumpers!

We love the old-school knitting magazines and pattern books we’ve grown up with from the 50s/60s/70s so we adopted that style with our photography and editing. Our poses are also inspired by that style, just much more fun and more us.

With this in mind, lookout for Emma’s ‘Brown Clan Collection’ blogpost where she shares the story behind her designs and where they came from.

Em and Jess πŸ’™

The Brown Clan Collection

Em here πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈ

I’m SUPER excited to finally share my degree show collection with you all! πŸŽ‰ This collection includes 2 jumpers and a pair of earrings, designed using inspiration from old photographs, patterns and the history of the Brown clan. My final year of uni was one of the hardest years of my life, this was the year my best friend (Grandma) passed away. Designing and making this collection gave me something to focus on whilst also giving me time to rummage through old photos and hunt down the knitwear! (See ‘The Browns’ Knit Archive’ further down).

Meet the Brown Clan

From left to right: Audrie Brown, William Brown, Alistair Brown and Ailsa nee Brown. The Brown clan previously lived in Larkhall, Scotland. However, after William married Audrie, against his mothers wishes, they moved down and lived in Oldham, England.

Bunch of samples. 🧑
Sketchbook page. ✏️

Family Beach Day

The first jumper I designed was the ‘Family Beach Day’ jumper. It’s design was based on one of my favourite photos of the Browns, took in the 70s, it shows them all standing by their beetle at the beach, holding a bat, ball and spade (also check out that knitwear). The shape was inspired by a 70s knitting pattern that my mum passed down to me. It’s a boxy, cropped batwing jumper with a rolled neck and cuffs. I also looked at the Browns’ knitting history for inspiration, this is where I came across Carsluith Castle, hence the arches on the front of the jumper!

Sketch of Carsluith Castle.
The Browns hanging by their beetle.

Fancy a Game of Rummy?

The second jumper I designed was the ‘Fancy a Game of Rummy?’ jumper. This is also a cropped, batwing jumper with a rolled neck and cuffs. It’s design was based on a photo taken in the swinging 60s, featuring Barbara, Anne and Audrie playing rummy, drinking port and smoking cigarettes. The patchwork placement in this jumper was inspired by the stonework that arched over the old fireplaces at Carsluith Castle. My favourite section of patchwork has to be the cables falling into the loops, they’re so unique and fun!

Gals night in playing rummy.

Audrie’s Slims’

To go with this jumper, I designed a pair of cute crocheted cigarette earrings. Fun fact – only Audrie is smoking in that old photograph, Barbara and Anne used to “smoke” candy cigarettes whenever Audrie whipped one out!

The Browns’ Knit Archive

I’m not just obsessed with wearing knitwear, I’m also obsessed with seeing my family wearing knitwear. So I decided to make a little archive showing you some of my favs. (I will add to this whenever I find a new gem!).

Great Grandma Brown knitting on some sleeves back in 1950.
Great Auntie B rocking the knitted bobbles at sea.
Grandad wearing his hand-knitted vest made by Grandma.
Like father like son, wearing knitwear at the beach.
I now wear this cardigan that my mum made when she was 18!

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog, it means a lot. Please head over to our Etsy https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ellisandlow if you’d like to shop this collection!

Bye for now. πŸ‘‹

Em and Jess πŸ’™

Caring for your Knitwear

Here at Ellis and Low our garments and accessories are all made using 100% wool. πŸ‘ To read more about the yarn we use, head over to our blog ‘Our Yarn’.

Blocking

We recommend blocking your garment on it’s first wash. Blocking means that the seams will get set in place and your stitches will even out. During this process your woolen garment will naturally fluff up so don’t worry! If anything it’ll just make your garment softer and cosier.

You will need:

  • Your garment
  • A bowl of lukewarm water
  • A gentle/wool detergent
  • A towel
  • A flat surface

The process:

  1. Fill a bowl/sink with lukewarm water and add a dash of gentle/wool detergent.
  2. Submerge your garment into the water making sure not to rub it (this would lead to felting). Leave it in the water for a few minutes.
  3. Remove your garment from the water gently squeezing out any excess and place to one side.
  4. Drain the soapy water and refill the bowl/sink with just lukewarm water (no detergent).
  5. Submerge your garment into the water again and gently move it around in order to remove any suds whilst making sure not to rub it.
  6. Remove your garment from the water again, squeezing out any excess and place to one side.
  7. Lay your garment flat on top of a towel and begin tightly rolling and squeezing in order to dry it as much as possible.
  8. Unroll the towel and remove your garment. Find yourself a flat surface, this can be anything from a fresh towel to a blocking mat, and place your garment as flat as possible.
  9. The last step is a little tricky to explain so head over to our instagram for a visual. But finally you want to push the seams out from inside the jumper so that they lie flat – be careful not to stretch it. Your garment will now remember this shape no matter how many times you wash it so we recommend taking your time to make sure it looks exactly how you’d like.

Washing 🧼

We recommend only washing your garment when absolutely necessary as over-washing can damage the wool fibres. You can refresh your knitwear by simply leaving it to air. If you do need to give your garment a full wash then follow steps 1-8 of ‘blocking’ above and allow it to naturally air dry. NEVER tumble dry, put your knitwear on the radiator or apply heat of any kind! If you need to get rid of any stains then spot clean them using a damp cloth with a small amount of gentle/wool detergent making sure to pat and not rub. Finish off by doing the same thing but with a fresh damp cloth without detergent on it.

Neatening βœ‚οΈ

To neaten up your knitwear if it starts getting bobbly, we recommend de-pilling it. You can do this with: an electric garment shaver, a knitwear comb/razor or scissors. Whichever you choose make sure to be SUPER careful as you don’t want to damage any of the stitches, you just want to remove the felted bobbles on the surface.

Storing

The best way to store your hand-knitted garment is by folding and boxing it up. We don’t recommend hanging them up as this can stretch and misshape your knit! Another little trick we recommend doing is putting some form of lavender in with your knit, such as lavender oil or dried lavender (eg. a pomander). 🌿 This will stop moths in their tracks! Moths love to eat their way through beautiful pieces of knitwear leaving them holey.

Hand-knits can last a lifetime if you know the proper way to take care of them. We hope this blog was helpful. There are plenty of other blogs and videos out there if you need any further information.

Em and Jess πŸ’™

Our Packaging

Our Packaging

We’re so happy we can say that all of our packaging is 100% recyclable, sustainable and plastic-free! ♻️ We love that nothing is bleached or dyed and that it’s all the same natural brown colour – it lets our colourful business cards and stickers pop! Doing our bit for the planet is really important to us so we want our business to be as low impact as possible. 🌍

Everything we need to package your orders.

Boxing it up πŸ“¦

We have a few different sized boxes that we stamp by hand, write a little note in, build-up and fill with our natural shredded paper.

Flat boxes into built boxes.

Some of you may have seen our business cards, but if not, here they are! We extended our ‘sheep planet’ for the background and added our name to the centre.

Front and back.

Wrapping it up βœ‚οΈ

Once it’s all boxed up, we seal it with a sticker and wrap it up using Kraft paper for extra security as it’s tear and burst resistant, even when wet! We then use gummed paper tape to seal it because we HATE plastic, plus it’s way cuter than sellotape. We’re a small start up business so we hope to add to our packaging in the future to make it extra special and unique to us.

‘Sheep planet’ stickers.πŸ‘

Thanks for taking the time to read all about ‘Our Packaging’. We really appreciate everyone who reads our blogs, we love sharing our brand’s story and everything that goes into running it. You can see more regular updates over on our Instagram @ellisandlow and browse our products on Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ellisandlow.

Em and Jess πŸ’™

Our Yarn

A big part of our ethos is to use sustainable materials, so we try and source yarns that have as little impact on the planet as possible. We decided on 100% sheep wool as our first type of yarn. In future we’d love to get our hands on all types of yarns to make our knitwear super fun and exciting!

Our first yarn delivery! 🌈

New Lanark Spinning Co

We both have a strong connection to Scotland having Scottish grandparents and New Lanark has a special place in our hearts. We visited the town, including the spinnery and wool shop, many years ago on our first trip away together so we know first-hand where our yarn has come from. 🏴󠁧󠁒󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (We found some old photos but sadly they’re too bad to share!)

We decided to source our yarn from New Lanark Spinning Co in Scotland. They support the small town of New Lanark by re-investing their income into protecting this World Heritage site. Their British wool is spun on historical 19th century machinery which is powered by locally-generated hydroelectricity. Any broken ends of fleece lost during the spinning process are collected and recycled into new yarn. This and the renewable energy used to power the mill makes for a more sustainable practice. To learn more about the history and process of New Lanark Spinning Co, check out their website: https://www.newlanarkspinning.com/

Properties of Wool

We made sure to do our research, reading all about the properties of wool on the Campaign for Wool’s informative website. We found that wool has many amazing and sustainable properties that help a garment last a lifetime! Some of the properties include:

  • Natural
  • Renewable
  • Biodegradable
  • Natural Insulator
  • Breathable
  • Trans-Seasonal
  • Odour Resistant
  • Easy Care

The Sheep πŸ‘

New Lanark use the fleece from a variety of different sheep breeds: Kent Lambswool, Manx Loughton, Hebridean, Shetland and Jacob are just some of them. The sheep are from Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

(Thanks to New Lanark for this cutie).

The quality of these fleeces is quite rustic (especially in comparison to Merino) so our garments are naturally more suited to be outerwear pieces. This doesn’t mean you can’t wear them alone, they will soften up nicely after a wash! One HUGE advantage to using a more rustic wool is that your garment is less likely to pill and won’t wear down as quickly.

The Yarn 🧢

We ordered two weights of hand-knitting wool from a number of their collections. If you’d like to see the colours in more detail then head over to our Instagram @ellisandlow and click on the saved story – ‘Yarn Swatches’.

Chunky and Aran.
Natural Undyed.
The Italian Collection.
The New Lanark Collection.

Having a high quality, luxury yarn is super important to us and New Lanark’s wool is just that! If you want to keep up to date with our knitting journey then feel free to follow us here and over on our Instagram @ellisandlow.

Em and Jess πŸ’™

Welcome to our Workspace

The Outhouse

All of our designing, making, and general business-ing takes place in ‘the outhouse’ which sits at the back of Em’s garden in Manchester. It was built from scratch by Uncle Al as a space to focus on her uni work last year. After graduation, it became the headquarters of Ellis and Low!

Where the magic happens!

It’s an inspiring space to work in because the walls are decked out with memories and works of Audrie and Bill, if you don’t know who they are then check out our last blog post ‘An Introduction to Ellis and Low’.

A typical day starts with us heading out with our freshly made cups of tea, whacking the heaters on and pulling up our woolly socks.. it’s normally VERY cold! 🧦

What’s Inside?

Audrie’s cross stitch tapestries and one of Bill’s wood carvings.
Auntie Barbara’s glorious chairs, re-upholstered by Audrie.

Our Tools

Most of the knitting needles, crochet hooks and other knitting equipment we use belong(ed) to our Grandmas. These are the tools they use(d) themselves and what they used to teach us with when we were learning. It’s nice to think they are a part of the business in that respect.

We also have our Grandma’s to thank for most of our vintage patterns and stitch books that we take inspiration from, but we do have some of our own! πŸ“š

Just a handful of our needles in their Austrian holders.
Our little (ever-growing) library.

Thanks for taking a look inside our workspace. We design and make everything by hand in this cosy little space, full of knitting history. We couldn’t make contemporary knitwear without knowing the history behind the craft. 🧢

Em and Jess πŸ’™

An Introduction to Ellis and Low

What is Ellis and Low?

Ellis and Low is a new luxury, sustainable knitwear brand based in Manchester. We use a fusion of contemporary and traditional styles in our designs to create fun knitwear and accessories intended to last a lifetime.

We’re at the very beginning of our journey venturing into the business world and we’re excited to see Ellis and Low blossom! 🌱

Who are we?

Ellis and Low was created by us, Em and Jess, we’ve been best friends since the age of 2. It’s always been a dream of ours to create a business together: first our own cafΓ©, then our own farm and now our own knitwear business! Eventually we want our own physical store with a place to eat and drink, an allotment to grow our own plants (for eating and dyeing) and many years down the line our own sheep! πŸ‘

Em and Jess. πŸ‘±β€β™€οΈπŸ‘©β€πŸ¦°
Throwback to 2008.

Em here, I studied Fashion Design at Manchester School of Art, specialising in knit. This is where I developed a love for designing and making hand-knitted heirloom jumpers, designed using research from my clan’s knitting history, patterns and photography. Check them out below!

Family Beach Day Jumper.
Fancy a Game of Rummy? Jumper.

Jess here, I studied Textile Design for Fashion and Interiors at Bath Spa University, specialising in knit. I took inspiration from nature and architecture using salvaged or recycled materials. My designs were always unexpected and unusual, with a sense of fun and a love of colour.

Adaptive Camouflage Crochet.
Woody Machine Knit.

Why Ellis and Low?

Audrie Ellis and Elizabeth ‘Lily’ Low are our grandma’s maiden names. They both taught us how to knit and crochet at a young age and we’ve had the knitting bug ever since. They are the reason for this brand’s creation so our name is a dedication to them.

Audrie with her husband Bill.
Audrie looking like a Queen. πŸ‘‘
Portrait of Lily.
Lily’s graceful decent. πŸ€Έβ€β™€οΈ

Our Logo

Our logo is what we call our ‘sheep planet’ which is a nod to our sustainable ethos. We wanted to ensure that it was 100% original so we used a drawing tablet to draw out each letter and sheep by hand. Originally we wanted to include Audrie’s bun and Lily’s clan tartan into our logo but it was a little too busy.

The design itself is quite playful so we kept the colour palette simple, using just one colour. (Keep your eye out for our other colour variations.. πŸ‘€)

Our ‘sheep planet’.

What to Expect from Ellis and Low

  • Clothing
  • Bespoke Heirloom Pieces
  • Accessories
  • Homeware
  • Knit and Crochet Workshops
  • Knit and Natter Evenings
  • A Repair Service

We’re delighted to have finally introduced Ellis and Low to the world! Thanks for taking the time to get to know us. We will continue to update our blog so you can see what goes on behind the scenes and read all about our products. Follow us on Instagram @ellisandlow for more regular updates!

Em and Jess πŸ’™