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  • Caroline Finlay

A Colourful Collaboration

Kay coat by Elizabeth Martin, Flame scarf by Collingwood-Norris and Silver  and Necklace and Earrings by Caroline Finlay
A Colourful Collaboration image by Rose and Julien Ltd.

I was delighted to collaborate on a photoshoot recently with Flora of Collingwood-Norris Knitwear and Elizabeth Martin and her beautiful tweed coats.

I have worked with photographer Julien of Rose and Julien Ltd. on previous shoots and knew we'd get some great, colourful shots of our work worn together.

Elizabeth found our lovely model Isobel and I'm so pleased to have my jewellery modelled with Flora's gorgeous knitwear and Elizabeth's coats.

Julien suggested South Queensferry as it's a colourful, historical and coastal town that would enhance our work and echo the Scottish inspiration we all love.

It was a cloudy day which Julien said was perfect.

What we all have in common is our love of colour in our work and inspiration and it was wonderful to see our pieces working so well when worn together.

I just love this Emma jacket of Elizabeth's with my Tidal necklace in sea-green and Rosa double drop earrings in turquoise and grey.

I asked Flora what inspires her designs,

"The landscapes of Scotland constantly inspire me. When I started Collingwood-Norris I took inspiration from the islands on the west coast of Scotland, in particular Mull and Iona, as that’s where I spent summer holidays as a child. I love the many blues of the water, the pinks of the buoys and the yellows of the wild flowers.

More recently, I’ve been inspired by the landscape of the Scottish Borders, with the colours of gorse, heather, and the wild flowers I look for throughout the year. Colour is the focus of my work, and I enjoy blending colours in the knitted fabric and seeing how the colours change depending on what they are paired with."

Edith coat, Cherry scarf and Leonora earrings
Cherry Blossom

I asked Flora where/ how are your designs made?

I make most of my designs in my very small studio in Galashiels on hand powered knitting machines. Each piece is carefully hand finished, and labelled with the name of the person who knitted it- that’s always me for the lighter weight pieces, and sometimes my assistant for the more patterned pieces.

Materials are very important to me, and I mostly work with a really soft lambswool that’s spun and dyed in Kinross in Scotland.

It’s Responsible Wool Standard certified, and dyed with Global organic Textile Standard approved dyes. For a small range of scarves I also work with silk that’s spun in Italy. It has the most beautiful drape and natural shine, and has similar thermos regulating properties to wool, so it’s ideal for people who can’t wear wool.

Marta coat, Katrine Skinny scarf and Iona double drop earrings
Silk, Tweed and Silver

What do you look for in a design as a customer Flora?

"I don’t buy myself clothing or jewellery very often, so I put a lot of thought into the pieces I do buy. I want to make sure that the pieces I choose are ones that I’ll want to wear year after year- so I need to really love them and I need to know that they’ll last, and I research the brands first.

This year I bought one of Elizabeth’s coats - the Cora Coat in green. I’ve been looking at her coats for a few years now, and I tried a few of them on several times each before making up my mind. It ticks all my boxes- it’s made with natural fibres, in Scotland, it’s a beautiful colour and I know it will last me for at least a decade if I look after it well.

Cora coat, Buoy earrings and Iona brooch
Creative Colour

Over the last few years I’ve mostly worn Caroline’s jewellery. I love the colours and shapes she uses, the feel of each piece, and her colours work well with the clothes I tend to wear. The great thing about buying from a designer maker like Caroline, is that I know that the earrings and necklace I own have been made for me, which feels really special, and definitely adds to my enjoyment of wearing them. Because they add colour to my life, I wear them a lot, so they’re a great investment."

New Eriskay Earrings

Thank you Flora, I too love and appreciate buying and using handmade pieces and find they often look better with age and last forever. From my mug to my purse and bag or a cushion and love taking part in craft and design fairs and discovering a new makers’ work.

Having recently been introduced to Elizabeth Martin's coats and especially after this shoot I would love one!

Especially as I have a couple of Flora Collingwood-Norris’s scarves which are gorgeous - I am drawn to her colours which often match my own inspiration; blues, greens and yellows of the wild island coastlines. My favourite is the blanket scarf which is so generous and soft. One of mine is now being used to keep my new baby granddaughter cosy!

I don’t buy things for myself that often but when I find something I love I know it’ll last well, I’ll love using or wearing it and it is worth paying a little more for. So would it be a Cora or an Edith?

Elizabeth also answered a few questions -

"What I look for in a design

Quality, quality, quality. This doesn’t mean a designer label. What I look for is good manufacture, patterns that match up. Beautiful linings - these can be omitted in an effort to cut costs but the lining is the nearest thing to your skin and the tactile sensation is not to be underestimated. I always look at the label to find out where the garment has been made, who has made it , what is the carbon footprint?

Where my designs are made.

I am fortunate enough to have one of the last quality manufacturers in Scotland making my brand for me.

Susan Howells is the wiz behind translating my designs into patterns that work. Susan is a specialist in bespoke tailoring and works for some of London’s top ateliers. I consider myself very fortunate to have her skills on board.

What inspires me.

People inspire me. I am fascinated how a garment or accessory can transform someone. Be it a confidence thing or to enhance their features.

I love colour and texture and have always loved craftsmanship, old and new and take inspiration from natural fabrics like silk, linen, cotton.

Heritage and provenance of Scottish textiles past and present are what make me most proud. There is such a wealth of talent that has been lost and I love to sing from the rooftops about the textile weavers in Scotland who are still going strong and putting Scotland on the international map."

Thanks Elizabeth, it's good to learn about your product and ethos.

On the day of the shoot everything went smoothly and although we hadn't planned what colours and pieces we'd bring, they all worked together really well and we were all so pleased with the collaboration.

It would be lovely to discover in time that our pieces are being worn together.

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