Scottish Knitwear made in Edinburgh +44 (0) 131 225 3249

How Bill Baber became a knitter

We talk a lot about being a family business here at Bill Baber Knitwear as it makes a big difference to us to be able to work together. While Jack, the second generation of knitters, joined the team 10 years ago, Bill and Helen have been a husband and wife team since the very beginning. We thought you’d like to hear a little story from the early days of our knitwear design and manufacture in Edinburgh, Scotland where we were able to take a big problem and turn it into a new way of working.

Helen in the workshop working on a flatbed loom in 1978

Early on in the businesses history Helen was our chief knitter and designer. She was working on a flatbed loom in our Edinburgh workshop. Yarn was stored on the floor and she would reach down for the thread, clip it into the feeder and then hold the loop up high while pulling the carriage left and right. Not surprisingly, Helen ended up hurting her back! “I guess I got far too excited and was going far too fast!” she says. She was told not to knit for 6 weeks – but they had a business to run and orders to fulfil.

At this point Bill had spent most of his time dealing with the retail side of the business but now he needed to step up as chief knitter! So, with Helen sitting at his side, Bill sat down to learn how to knit. “That was great for me, that was a really nice introduction because I had a really good teacher to show me exactly what to do” he said.

Bill and Helen in 2019 in our Edinburgh 66 Grassmarket workshop

And that started a love affair with knitting for him also. It didn’t take him long to come up with some suggestions to streamline the process and by the time Helen’s back was better they had decided to buy a second machine and knit side by side!

Our business has been affected hugely by having their joint design input. Both Helen and Bill love to work with colour and come up with new knitwear designs so Helen’s bad back turned out to be a blessing in design!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of the history of Bill Baber Knitwear. If you’d like to hear more about the story, from the people involved, then watch Helen and Bill talk about it here:

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