Greer Worsley turned her desire to keep her children cosy into a homegrown knitting success and a darn good yarn.
Ask her daughters, Lola and twins Pearl and Stella, says Exeter local Greer Worsley, and they will tell you they are a little mortified today about the starring roles they had in her creative start-up, Typically Red.
In 2012, Greer, a professional food photographer, decided she needed to supplement her income. Always a knitter, she found inspiration in the chunky rib wool hats she was making for her girls, then aged five and three, for the chilly Highlands winters.
“This was back in the day when everyone seemed to have a blog so I started one and began posting about the woolly hats I was knitting to keep my girls warm,” Greer says.
Greer found a vintage pattern online and adapted it for “fatter, chunkier wool” and posted photographs on her blog of her girls wearing their new hats.
“And what started as a trickle snowballed from there,” she says.
“My readers would share a picture and people would ask ‘where can I get some of those cute hats for my kids?’, and other people would repost and so on. So I just started knitting every second and got a lot knitted up and got myself an Etsy site and started selling from there.”
Typically Red, which now sells exclusively through Greer’s website, produces three bonnet designs: the Chubby Pixie, Bumpy and Betty Bonnet. Hats are knitted in 12 ply for toddlers up to big kids aged 10-plus and in 10 ply for babies from newborns to 18 months.
“My hats are handknitted in really sturdy, beautiful wool, which is a point of difference I guess, because traditionally, baby knits are made using very fine four ply wool,” says Greer.
“They are also very old-fashioned but as anyone who has tried to keep a hat on a toddler will tell you, they are a great design because they cover the head, the ears and the cheeks and can tie under the chin.”
In 2015 and with her global customer bases growing to include several wholesalers in England and Japan, Greer expanded her knitting circle. Her ‘knitting ladies’, local Highlanders Dallas de Brabander, Joanne Scarlett and Ann Clipsham now work with Greer and produce more than 20 hats each a month. These hats are posted around the world and are photographed on tiny tots and toddlers and shared online from Michigan to Manchester to Melbourne.
Greer says while she never intended to give up photographing food, Typically Red has provided valuable extra income, and home-based creativity. She is staying small, and local.
“To upscale to a commercial level would involve having my hats manufactured overseas by machine and that’s something I’ve never wanted to do,” she says.
“But I am very proud of this little business and the energy and positivity around it. People seem to love the hats we make, and I in turn love seeing photos of children wearing them because these days it’s harder and harder to photograph my kids in them. In fact, I think the last time I tried was about three years ago and I had these three surly faces staring back at me.’’
Our Highlands home is a hotpot of creatives carving out a living in the homemade textile and design space from their studios, kitchens and websites, and our weekend markets from Exeter to Robertson to Colo Vale are fabulous places to find local makers creating up a storm. As more of us search for greater work from home/life balance, here are a few others on our radars and their domestic practices…
Weave & Burrow: Ange Longbottom works from her studio in Mittagong to create sustainable homewares, prints and gifts using natural dyeing techniques and fabrics. Also available at The SHAC Handmade Market, Robertson
Sunday Woven: Bundanoon maker Hannah Cooper hand weaves uniquely domestic textile goods such as throws, cushions and children’s blankets. Weaving is a slow process, so Hannah produces just a limited run of products.
Stitchbirds: Louisa Engle sews children’s clothes in cottons and linens in a 100-year-old barn in the garden of her Exeter home. Louisa moved to the Highlands five years ago, inspired by the beauty of the region’s gardens and our four distinct seasons. Stitchbirds is also available at Mossy Store, Moss Vale.
The Quiet Lion: Danielle Hewitt is a designer and seamstress who makes from her Bundanoon studio, just up the road from her brother Warren, a master clothier, who creates made-to-measure linen pieces under his label Scott Benedictine in Moss Vale.