Hilary Grant

For Local Heroes, Hilary Grant have designed a lambswool travel blanket inspired by rhythm, mirroring and colour theory and the knitting traditions of Scotland and its neighbouring Nordic countries. The blankets are intended to help travellers stay warm during flights, boat crossings and other adventures.

The travel blanket commissioned by Local Heroes explores new techniques and has been designed and produced at a finer gauge to that of previous Hilary Grant designs. “This allowed us the freedom to have a higher number of stitches per square inch – similar to the idea of high resolution digital images. So we’ve been able to do a lot more in a smaller space.”

For Archipelago the designers worked with the idea of dual scale – “intricate pattern close up, but at a distance creating big graphical gestures.” says Grant. “We wanted to really play with this technique for Local Heroes, with the fading triangular shape created from a gradient of pattern densities. We looked at world flags and nautical flags to inform colour proportion.”

The yarn used is a fine lambswool, dyed and spun at a mill in Kinross. “We chose to work with this company particularly for their impressive selection of vibrant colours. The yarns have a very subtle melange, the slightest variations in colour, which is typical of yarns produced by the traditional wool brokers of the Northern and Western Isles.”

Hilary Grant is a knitwear design studio, based on Orkney, an archipelago of islands off the North coast of Scotland. Their collections of knitwear and interior accessories are designed and developed using a combination of digital processes and hand sketching and sampling on a domestic knitting machine.

Working with a small knitwear manufacturer in the Scottish Borders, every piece is knitted on a Shima Seiki digital machine before being finished by hand – a process that involves casting off, and washing the knitwear to enhance the handle before a final press.

With a focus on pattern making, over stitch or texture, Hilary Grant are interested in knitting traditions from Scotland and its neighbouring Nordic countries and cultures “Our aim is to develop the language of this kind of pattern making, instead of re-appropriating motifs”. Rhythm and mirroring and various techniques in colour theory are explored and developed, working from the stitch up to a design pattern that can only exist in the pixellated form of a knitted structure.

Hilary Grant knitwear can be found in independent shops and galleries around the world – across the UK and as far as Japan, Hong Kong and the US.