Skip to content


July 29, 2011

“Knitted by grannies, supported by supermodels”

The above saying is the perfect one sentence summarization of British brand “The North Circular”, which lands in this month’s edition of “I Do Good”. The “supermodel” part came from the fact that the company was started by supermodels Lily Cole and Katherine Poulton along with Central St. Martin grad Alice Ashby and entrepreneur Isobel Davies. And the “grannies” part came about because adorably all of The North Circular’s products are knitted by grandmother knitters.

The collection is produced solely in the United Kingdom, which first of all supports local businesses but also reduces the travel mileage of products and coincidentally lowers the amount of waste produced by globalized production. Also, the yarn is cultivated from rescued sheep at the Izzy Lane (Isobel Davies) sheep sanctuary where sheep rescued from slaughter houses graze on organic land. The sheep are then sustained through the profit of their wool, which is also dyed naturally minimizing waste material produced by harmful chemical processes. Click here to read more about their habitat.

The brand was first conceived by Lily Cole and Katherin Poulton, who both have grandmothers who are exceptional knitters.  Besides joking about boys, they would often toy around, over champagne and tea, with the idea of starting a line made purely by loving grannies just like their own. Finally, they decided to put words into action and got connected with Alice Ashby from Central St. Martin who helps them with the design, and they also partnered with Isobel Davies to source the ethical raw materials to produce the knits.

Needless to say, the result is spectacular as exemplified by the following picture of Cole herself modeling one of the dresses.

The name “The North Circular” is a cheeky representation of the company’s business model. Here’s how their website describes it:

The low mileage also helped to seal our choice of name,as the wool passes through a 120 mile ‘north circular’ route from sheep to scourer, spinner to dyer, on to knitter.”

It is also based on the circular scarf which was one of the earlier designs produced by the brand.

Not only is the idea of employing grannies adorable, it also helps employ this particular portion of the work force which might otherwise find it difficult to compete with others (plus you can finally own a grandmother sweater that is actually chic, fashion forward, and most importantly, cool!)  Check out these scarvess and dresses currently available for sale on the brand’s own website.

Catch Shrug - £200

Celtic Rope Hood - £300

Diamond Gloves - £45 and Voyeger Necklace - £150

Marly Dress - £245

The following dress styles are currently sold out but might be restocked in the near future:

Celtic Plait Dress - £450

Hook Cardigan - £350

Through their effort, the brand wishes to “return value to the homemade product” (they must be an avid reader as that is also an idea The Sche Report champions!). Besides, this homespun quality restores the connection between producers and consumers and helps distinguish a brand amidst an increasingly crowded market with a multitude of products and ideas.

Katherine Poulton with two of the Granny knitters

My favorite part of the website is an area where it features each knitter individually. This allows consumers to really get an extra sense of warmth coming from their beanies, scarves, and sweater dresses. Here are a few knitters to highlight from the website:

 Aileen from Scotland:

And Lorraine from Richmond:

And the bad-ass looking Sheila from Birmingham:

The idea of hand-knitted sweaters and scarves is already great, but what makes them even more special is that they come from grannies who are not too different than yours and mine. And for those who might still think a granny sweater is uncool, consider the rarity that your granny sweater is modeled by Lily Cole and got featured in a Nick Knight conceptual video? For that you can have the supermodels to thank.

Knitted by grannies and supported by supermodels, The North Circular is putting grannies all over the world front and center – one fashionable step at a time.

For more information, visit

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: