Although she grew up in an artistic family - her father taught her her to paint and draw as a child - it was only after getting disappointing results in her science A levels that Marie realised her passions lay elsewhere. “My parents wanted me to retake my exams but I just wanted to leave home! To cut a long story short, I was accepted on to a textile degree at Leicester Polytechnic [now DeMontfort University].” Marie had clearly landed on her feet, going on to gain a first class degree in 1986 with a final collection inspired by the art and work of Piet Mondrian.
She soon got a job with a small knitwear manufacturer in Nottingham, before starting her own design label 18 months latter, selling her machine-knitted designs throughout Japan and the US. It was at this time that Marie first discovered Rowan yarns. “I used a Rowan yarn called ‘Silkystones’ in my machine knits as this could be supplied on cones. Rowan made me aware of their range of hand knitting yarns and it was these yarns that inspired me to start designing for hand knitting. The yarn ranges at that time were simply beautiful.”
After meeting her husband in the 1990s, Marie returned to commercial design for 13 years, creating knitwear for collections from high street retailers such as Next, Burtons, and Debenham’, among many others.
It wasn’t until 2005, when Marie joined Rowan as Head Designer, that she became fully immersed in the handknitting world again. She spent the next decade overseeing all creative aspects of the Rowand bran, not only in the knitwear designs but also the photo shoots, styling and art direction. As well as being the main designer for the Rowan magazine and seasonal brochures, Marie was also heavily involved with the development and selection of new yarns and colours.
Over this time Marie became known for her colourful designs, inspired by Fair Isle and folk art. She also created many of Rowan’s best-loved crochet designs, pushing the craft to new limits. Unsurprisingly for a Fair Isle aficionado, Marie’s favourite yarn is Felted Tweed. “I love Felted Tweed, largely because of the colour palette available and that I can knit it as a 4-ply yarn,” she explains. “I’ve always been heavily influenced by pattern of any sort; ceramics, textiles, mosaics, embroidery, carpets, folk art and so on. As I like to design patterned fabrics, I need to use a yarn which has the colour choice and is fine enough so that the detail of the design is seen.”
In her time at Rowan, Marie created hundreds of designs, and says she’s not quite sure how many! After leaving Rowan in 2014 she launched her own label, continuing to explore her love of complex patterns through handknits. Her kits and patterns attract a huge following and she teaches all over the UK. She continues to design for Rowan too and cites designers with a love of colour and pattern as an inspiration. “In the past, designers such as Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Missioni, Paul Smith, Burberry and Kenzo have produced some amazing work. I also love the work of Catherine Andre, Sophie Digard and, of course, Kaffe Fassett.”
Marie admits that she “doesn’t really stop working”. “I’m always knitting something in the evening which is work-related. I don’t mind as I love my job! One day, I hope to make time to take up drawing and painting again and I was also want to learn to weave properly.”
When asked for the best piece of advice she’s received from another knitter, she laughs, revealing a gem from her design hero Kaffe Fassett. “Life’s too short to knit anything plain and in brown!” Thankfully, we can’t imagine her ever going there...
patterns by yarn
- Cocoon (14) Apply Cocoon filter
- Softyak DK (13) Apply Softyak DK filter
- Cotton Glacé (10) Apply Cotton Glacé filter
- Felted Tweed (10) Apply Felted Tweed filter
- Pure Wool Superwash Worsted (10) Apply Pure Wool Superwash Worsted filter
- Kidsilk Haze (9) Apply Kidsilk Haze filter
- Kid Classic (8) Apply Kid Classic filter
- Fine Lace (4) Apply Fine Lace filter
- Summerlite 4ply (4) Apply Summerlite 4ply filter
- Baby Merino Silk DK (1) Apply Baby Merino Silk DK filter
- Big Wool (1) Apply Big Wool filter
- Brushed Fleece (1) Apply Brushed Fleece filter
- Felted Tweed Aran (1) Apply Felted Tweed Aran filter
- Handknit Cotton (1) Apply Handknit Cotton filter
- Pure Wool Superwash DK (1) Apply Pure Wool Superwash DK filter
- Summerlite DK (1) Apply Summerlite DK filter
- Super Fine Merino DK (1) Apply Super Fine Merino DK filter
Knit this ladies longline cardigan, a design by Marie Wallin that has been re-styled and re-photographed
Knit this ladies round neck sweater, a design by Marie Wallin from the Rowan archive
Knit this ladies cardigan, a design by Marie Wallin that has been re-styled and re-photographed
Knit this ladies longline sweater, a design by Marie Wallin that has been re-styled and re-photographed
Knit this ladies swing coat, a design by Marie Wallin that has been re-styled and re-photographed
Knit this ladies accessory wrap, a design by Marie Wallin that has been re-styled and re-photographed
Knit this stunning, neat Fairisle sweater a design by Marie Wallin using Rowan Felted Tweed.
Knitted in Alpaca Soft DK this shrug by Marie Wallin features a lovely crochet edging.
Knit this round neck sweater, with Fairisle yokea design by Marie Wallin using Rowan Felted Tweed.
Knit this round neck cardigan, with Fairisle design a design by Marie Wallin using Rowan Felted Tweed.
Knit this short sleeved, round neck sweater with all over Fairisle patterna design by Marie Wallin using Rowan Felted Tweed.
Knit this sweater, with stunning cable and rib pattern a design by Marie Wallin using Rowan Felted Tweed.
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