Visitors to the annual Handmade for Christmas showcase of craft and design at the Millennium Gallery often seek out products by Sheffield makers.
An example this year is the display of hats and scarves by Miriam Griffiths Knitwear, a fashion forward design business inspired by traditional textiles and street fashion.
It is a small scale handmade knitwear label producing “lovingly made” pieces from high quality locally sourced materials using domestic and semi-industrial knitting machines.
With a focus on using natural materials, colour plays a huge part in the design. Orange and blue predominate in the latest collection but grey is a constant.
“I am obsessed with grey,” Miriam says for its facility to work with other colours.
Miriam comes from a creative background – her mother is sculptor Gillian Brent and father Peter Griffiths is a painter – and learned to handknit from a young age.
“I was always dressing up and not being able to find things in the shops. My early interest in textiles, was mostly from a fashion perspective rather than fine art.
She went off to the London College of Fashion where she studied Surface Textiles specialising in Knitwear.
“I originally wanted to do print design but I am not greatat drawing and was better at working in 3-D,” she explains.
After graduating in 2013 she set up her own brand and eventually moved back to her home city and took a studio in Yorkshire Artspace’s Exchange Place building.
She says she was driven by a love of making and being a part of the whole design process from research to end product.
The aim has been to produce interesting yet wearable products that anyone can integrate into their day to day wardrobe.
“I am trying to keep it local and have used Yorkshire sources, my lambswool comes from Denby Dale and cotton from Brighouse. I have also used Shetland wool – but it’s still British.”
She sells online and via craft fairs and trade shows. At the British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate she took the Highly Commended New Comer Award from Craft & Design Magazine.
Winter is the prime time to sell hats and scarves and she is keen to make her business less seasonal.
“People see knitwear as being warm because they think of wool but it’s becoming more popular and more summery,” she says and has therefore produced knitted cotton scarves and dresses.
There is a balance between producing what she knows will sell and trying different things. “I would like to be more experimental. With scarves you can be more creative but a hat has to be a certain shape.”
Featuring original British jewellery, accessories, homeware, textiles and ceramics, Handmade for Christmas presents work by more than 70 of the country’s most sought-after contemporary makers.
Income generated from what has become established as seasonal favourite offering an alternative to the High Street for Christmas shopping, continues to support Museums Sheffield’s charitable work throughout the city’s museums, galleries and communities, as well as supporting independent makers across the region and further afield.
Handmade for Christmas is will continue on view in the Craft and Design Gallery of the Millennium Gallery until January 14.