Fashion: Northern Soul

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Luxury knitwear label Needle has launched a Scandi inspired collection. Stephanie Smith previews.

Blame it on The Bridge, the Nordic Noir TV drama series that helped inspire a revived obsession with all matters Scandinavian, from its psyche to its style and design – and not least, its knitwear.

Northallerton-based designer Needle has looked across the choppy waters to the simplicity of Scandinavian design for its new autumn/winter collection, inspired by clean geo patterns that 
bring a fresh yet retro-classic appeal to knitwear.

“It has been a progression,” says Lizzie Cawthray, the North Yorkshire entrepreneur who founded Needle last year, at the age of 27, offering a modern capsule collection of sweaters and cardigans in Italian luxury yarn.

“We have taken the styles that have worked and moved them forward.

“We want it to be the details that people notice, but keep it simple too.”

Much like the Scandinavian lands, Yorkshire is a county that needs its knits, and Lizzie is passionate about creating fun, beautiful knitwear pieces that can be worn all year round, every day of the week.

She grew up in Ilkley and Harrogate and, after university, worked at UK modern heritage brand LK Bennett as part of a clothing product development team specialising in knitwear. There she met designer Emma Baressi, who had previously worked at Burberry. Lizzie credits Emma with kick-starting her love for knitwear and showing her how versatile and beautiful designs can be. When she decided to set up Needle, she asked Emma to join as chief designer, and so they came up with 12 styles, which were then made up in Italy, at a factory near Florence. “We both have an eye for quality, luxury products and this is very much reflected in the quality of yarns that we use, which is mostly cashmere and merino,” Lizzie says.

The pair take time over style and fit, choosing to make sleeves a certain stitch to complement a loose fitting body or making the body length a little longer to finish in a more flattering place. Colour palettes are discussed meticulously to be unusual and fun. Attention to detail is key and Needle uses the finest Italian mills for yarns, selecting a particular weight of cashmere or merino, or using a blend of these raw materials to make each jumper or cardigan perfect.

The company has just completed its first full year of trading. “It is has been an exciting and challenging year, but we are still here to tell the tale,” says Lizzie, who lives near Harrogate.

For the autumn/winter shoot images here, Knaresborough photographer Sean Knott found a location house in Greenwich, a former old shipyard house that provided the perfect setting for the Scandi-inspired designs.

Knitwear, Lizzie says, is an essential part of the British wardrobe. “We love designing knitwear that people fall in love with,” she says, adding: “There have been some interesting progressions in the last month, so we are hoping that Needle is going to take some exciting leaps forward.”

Intriguing, and we will look on with interest. Lizzie has great plans for her developing Yorkshire luxury label. Who knows? Maybe Needle will start supplying the Scandinavians with the retro-cool jumpers they seem to adore so much.

“Ultimately we want to be the go-to brand for knitwear,” she says.

* The AW14 collection is online at and is stocked in Yorkshire at Susan Gaunt Boutique in Harrogate and at Upstairs Downstairs in Ripon.