Anyone who knows me, will know that I love finding out how things are made, & as a retail buyer & product developer I have had plenty of opportunity to visit many factories over the years, understanding the in’s & out’s of the manufacturing processes.
We even took the opportunity whilst on holiday to visit a parmesan cheese factory in Parma, Italy last month – like I say, I love any opportunity to see things being made & ask questions….but that’s another geeky story
One of the many reasons I am proud to make all tullibee products in the UK is the opportunity it gives me to work so closely with all the fabulous people involved!
So, having introduced you to some of the people involved in the making of tullibee knitted blankets & cushions in our first journal post, during fashion revolution week, I thought you might like to find out a bit more about the design process & how tullibee knitted products are made….
Now, whilst I did do some knit design at uni (many moons ago), designing a knitted pattern was a pretty new thing for me when I embarked on this journey, so I have developed my own little way & I now transfer all my designs to grid patterns on paper, allowing me to see how the designs will knit up to the exact scale. If I am totally honest I have no idea if this is how other knitwear designers do it, but it is working pretty well for me & thankfully the makers too (& it fulfils that desire to fill in a rainbow coloured spreadsheet once in a while )
Scale knit patterns for tullibee blankets & cushions
Now I totally love choosing the colours as this is where things can really come to life – although having to pin down & actually make a decision from the vast array of colours on the yarn colour charts is always hard.
Once the design & colours are decided it is programmed into the Stoll knitting machines so first samples can be made – this is where Laurence & George work their magic.
When the knitted panels first come off the machine they have a good resemblance to a string vest…. not soft & fluffy at all! But you can definitely get a good idea of how the finished design will look.
It takes around 24 minutes to knit 1 blanket panel.
Once knitted all loose yarn ends are hand stitched to ensure they are neat & secure before the panels go onto the next finishing process….
After a stint in the washing machine to wash out the excess oil (added to the yarn to help the knitting process), the panels then go into the drying machines – basically a big tumble dryer!! Whilst this all seems very simple it is really key that the timings are correct otherwise we could end up with very very small blankets & cushions!
The pressing process ensures everything finishes with neat straight edges & to the correct size before our small batches of production stock head off for a final QA check & packing, including metal detection as an extra safety check.
OMG so this is the stage when we have finished panels (eeeek!! this is very very exciting when you have been working on a design for months sometimes!!).
A whole load of boxes then make their way to Manchester to tullibee towers. I guess you know by now, tullibee is a very small company & therefore when a number of boxes arrive all at once it is usually a little chaotic initially as I find somewhere to store everything ready & waiting to sew all the labels onto each blanket (& make up the cushion panels into zipped covers). After a bit more pressing & finishing & extra metal detection everything is ready to go out to fulfil orders. YAY!!
Now as well as blankets, the knitting mill makes hats & accessories, including gloves….& just because it makes me SMILE EVERY TIME I see it at the factory, here's a little video of their glove press in action. I could just watch this all day! Maybe one day tullibee gloves will be added to the range, but until then I will enjoy it just because
Hopefully that's given you a flavour of how we do things, but if you'd like to know anything else, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org