Claire’s new knitting career

Claire Gelder
Claire Gelder
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A South Yorkshire woman who used knitting to de-stress has secured a contract to sell her wool products to John Lewis.

Claire Gelder quit her high pressure job as a manager for the NHS, to set up Wool Couture.

The Barnsley company creates DIY knitting acks with giant needles and giant yarn, and also sells Merino wool yarn, handmade crochet hooks, and chunky scarves, hats, blankets and dog beds made by an army of knitters.

The company has just moved into he Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre, at Wilthorpe, and is now receiving support from Enterprising Barnsley, which provides specialist support to businesses with growth potential.

John Lewis will retail the nine different DIY kits that Wool Couture creates, including one for a chunky throw, a pom-pom hat that takes just two to three hours to make, and scarves which are knitted by hand in half an hour. The kits will be sold at its Oxford Street store and online.

Claire said: “Normal knitting means it can take six months to knit a scarf and I can’t wait six months for something to be done, I wanted it to be done in a weekend, so I started with small needles and then they just got bigger and bigger; until we ended up with ones that we made ourselves and are up to one metre long.

“And with the 30-minute and 60 minute scarf kits you don’t use needles at all; you use your arms and hands to do the knitting. But that means you can easily produce a scarf over a weekend, which will appeal to a lot of busy people.”