An interview with knitted textiles designer Catherine Tough

I first spotted Catherine Tough's kooky knits at Origin a few years back and have been a fan ever since. I am very pleased to finally get the chance to interview her and find out a bit more about what makes her tick. We talked broken knitting machines, people watching and never having a proper job... Catherine Tough Flamingo

What’s the most important thing to know about you?

I’m a problem solver and love working on the detail. I won’t give up on a product idea until I’ve worked out how to do it. I have a bit of an engineer, detective sort of mind.

Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of Catherine Tough.

Good Day: Get to the studio for about 9am…..catch up with Chloe Whale my studio manager, despatch wholesale and lots of online orders, sign off a new collection with big trade client and work on a new designs.

Bad Day: We wait in all day for a delivery of yarn that never comes, a vital knitting machine part breaks and we can’t get replacement for days, production backs up and customers aren’t happy.

What inspires your ideas?

Living in London; I love people watching from my stall at Broadway Market.

Catherine Tough penguin

Describe the process you go through to turn your ideas into products.

I start working on colours and knit patterns at the beginning of the season then start to develop new animal shapes using these, it always takes a few attempts to get them looking just right.

What advice would you give to an aspiring knitted textile designer?

Keep going - there will be days when you feel like throwing it all in, but stay focused on your goals and everything will fall into place.

Desert island design time; which three designed items could you not live without?

My washing machine... I use it for washing knitting for our production - it causes chaos if breaks down.

My knitting machine... where would I be without it?

My laptop... it has everything on to run the business.

Catherine Tough sausage dog doorstop

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my business and never having had a proper job. I started my business as soon as I graduated from the RCA and have never looked back.

What’s next for you?

We're expanding our range into haberdashery, travel accessories, sewing kits and some home storage.

And, finally, what’s your favourite colour?!

I don’t really have a favourite - it changes all the time.

Catherine Tough knitted hearts