Established in 1978…
Rowan started life above a grocery store in a village near Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire, England. While initially specialising in weaving supplies and knitting kits, founders Stephen Sheard and Simon Cockin wanted to produce yarn which was both high quality and perfect for the hand-knitting design trends of the time. Their business focus was to showcase natural fibres in a paint-box colour palette, and so Lightweight DK was born with 98 shades. They placed the utmost value on providing yarn shades which could be translated into timeless design, and these values are still at the core of Rowan today.
The Rowan name was inspired by the beautiful shrubs lining the banks of the Holme River in Yorkshire, an area deeply entwined with British textile heritage and traditions. There has always been a nod to the Rowan leaves in our logos as they have evolved. In 1979 the company purchased the Green Lane Mill in Holmfirth, and that was our home for the next 15 years. While our studio has moved and our needs have grown over the years, we are still in Yorkshire some 40 years later. And, though our ownership has changed several times, the ethos of growing our brand, providing quality fibres, and staying true to our knitters and crocheters has remained the same. As local to our roots as we are, our influence has become global. Rowan partnered with Westminster Fibers to take the brand to the US in 1985, and from there we have expanded our reach to over 30 countries around the world.
In 1982, a chance meeting between Stephen Sheard and Kaffe Fassett steered Rowan in a new direction—to creating designer-led projects for our growing number of followers. Their first big success was a mail order kit shown on the cover of Woman & Home magazine in 1983. The orders were way beyond expectations, and this led to the launch of our own Rowan magazine in 1986. Today, we still use the inspiration of our key designers, and Kaffe Fassett is first amongst them, continuing to design incredible knits in his signature colourful style. Currently, he’s joined by our elite team of talented designers, including Lisa Richardson, Martin Storey, Erika Knight, Brandon Mably, ARNE & CARLOS, Quail Studio, and Georgia Farrell. Our ultimate mission remains the same as it’s always been—to offer a selection of high-quality yarns paired with designer-led inspiration that our followers will find a pleasure to knit with and to wear.
Our Brand Values & Sourcing Policy
We stand for inclusion. Rowan is committed to encouraging full contribution from our diverse community and we actively oppose all forms of discrimination. We have a very strong anti-discrimination policy in our company, and we encourage all types of diversity in both our working environment and in our practices. We will not tolerate any type of discrimination based on gender, race, age, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, family status, physical appearance, disability or any medical or genetic condition and we will not tolerate hateful discourse or bullying of any kind.
We believe in sustainability, limiting our impact, and the excellent care of animals. Rowan complies with all relevant laws and continually seeks to improve our contribution to an environmentally-sustainable society in all our practices, and we follow a mandate to reduce, reuse or recycle materials wherever practical and possible.
We partner with the finest producers and ethical companies all through our supply chain, and we require our suppliers and contractors to reduce their environmental impact and ban the use of environmentally harmful substances.
Rowan is committed to ensuring that no animals are caused unnecessary suffering to create our products and materials. We expect high standards of animal welfare and will only work with suppliers who have a good track record in this area. We insist all animals be protected from unnecessary pain, suffering, injury or disease, and they must be free from unnecessary discomfort, fear and distress as a result of farming practices. Mulesing is a surgical procedure performed on Merino sheep to prevent a condition known as ‘fly-strike’. Fly-strike occurs when flies lay their eggs under the skin of sheep and the larvae feed on the animal’s tissue. We only work with suppliers who can assure us their wool is mulesing-free.
It’s a special kind of person who looks for a job at a yarn company or for a career in textiles. They are usually passionate people with a love for knitting and crocheting, and they usually have had a Rowan moment (or many!) before they came to us. We are a very special team, made up of people from many different backgrounds and experiences, and who work for us or with us all over the world. We all love what we do, and we are proud of what our company produces. Almost all of us knit, though that’s not a requirement, but if someone starts out as a non-knitter they usually catch the bug and we have many eager teachers to get them started.
Our core team is based in the U.K., with a small marketing and distribution team in the U.S., and we have specialty distributors all over the world who are equally passionate about getting our product into the hands of knitters. Our designers are at the core of each season and key to inspiring you with their talent.
There are many Rowan team members who have come before us, and we wholeheartedly thank them, and we hope we do them the honour of carrying the torch high as we move forward into another decade. While our management team are listed below, we could not do our jobs without the amazing team of people who support us. Every. Single. Day.
Lives & breathes Rowan
Family comes first
Favourite yarn: All of them!
Grew up on a farm
Favourite yarn: Softyak DK
Her boys are her world
Camping & exploring
Favourite yarn: Softyak DK
Australian New Yorker
Seed (moss) stitch aficionado
Favourite stitch: slip stitch
Pets: chickens and bees
Loves being in nature
Favourite yarn: Too hard to choose!
Passionate sea swimmer
Favourite yarn: Felted Tweed
It’s all about family
Favourite yarn: Softyak DK
Favourite yarn: Pure Cashmere
Happiest beside the sea
Loves a good list!
Favourite yarn: Kid Classic
Fair weather runner
Favourite yarn: Big Wool