We Catch Up With Nadine Rose, Founder of Premium Knitwear Brand Rose & Wül, to Find Out About Her Timeless Creations

Photos: Fabrice Gagos
Interview: Addie Kenogbon
Sunday 15 October 2023
reading time: min, words

Born out of a lockdown hobby, Nottingham premium knitwear brand Rose & Wül has since amassed an ever-growing following, with fans including the likes of TV star Claudia Winkleman. Each piece is hand-knitted by founder Nadine Rose out of luxurious cloud-like merino wool, using her bare hands instead of knitting needles for a super-chunky stitch pattern. We caught up with Nadine to find out more about her timeless creations and how the kindness of an unsuspecting stranger helped her discover her hidden talent.

Nadine Rose & Wul

All your pieces are fantastic, can you tell me how Rose & Wül all began?
I’ve wanted to learn to knit for as long as I can remember. Around seven years ago, I was working in Specsavers. Whilst serving a customer, I noticed on her notes it said that her hobbies were knitting. I mentioned that I wanted to learn to knit. When she came to collect her glasses, she brought a ball of wool for me, along with a pair of needles, and a little print-out ripped out from a magazine. They sat in my room in a box for years, until lockdown hit. I thought, OK, I've got all the time in the world now. I decided to pick them up, and it was only a couple of months before I had made my first piece. 

That’s so lovely! How long did it take before you realised this was something you were actually good at?
When I first started learning, I remember the first little thing I made, and it was awful. I couldn't keep all my stitches on the needles to begin with. It was so bad. But I kept at it, and within a couple of weeks I was like, “I’m actually pretty good at this.”

So when did you make the decision to actually take it from a hobby to a viable business?
To be honest, when I realised I was good at it. I really loved it. I found it to be very cathartic and I thought to myself that I could do this all the time. Hours would pass while I’d be knitting and I wouldn't even realise.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the whole process of creating your pieces?
All my pieces are made using Merino wool. I get the roving which is essentially wool that has had nothing done to it. If you imagine cotton wool or candy floss, that’s what it’s like when it first arrives - it's really delicate and it just comes apart. 

I then have to process it so it's strong enough to handle and knit. I think sometimes people think that you just get the wool in a ball, but that can't happen with roving. I have to wet the wool first and then take it to a launderette to dry it, as it doesn't fit in a normal machine. Once done, the fibres will stay together and then you can start knitting. The whole process is quite labour intensive, as the material is so heavy.

Is there a reason you use Merino wool over other wool options?
Merino wool has lots of great qualities; it’s non-scratchy, fire resistant, sustainable and hypoallergenic. Merino sheep are huge, with absolutely massive coats. Some people think shearing an animal is cruel, but they shouldn't have something so big and heavy on them. Merino wool also regulates body temperature, if you're too hot, it cools you down, if you're too cold, it warms you up. It's something that you can use all year round.

I always want my pieces to be hand knitted, no matter how big I get, or how many people I hire

All your pieces are knitted using your actual hands, talk us through how that works.
I do have needles that are the size of rolling pins, but I don’t use those. When I first began knitting, I did use needles, but there’s something so rhythmic about using my hands. I find that with my hands it's easier to control and more comfortable. Your hands become the needles, you get to really feel the wool and work with it to create something great.

What kinds of products do you sell?
I do all sorts. It’s all fully bespoke but can be anything from blankets to cushions, scarves, pet beds, baby baskets or little baby sleeping bags. I've always got a million ideas running around in my mind. I’ve also got seasonal pieces too, such as the big woollen pumpkins and Christmas puddings. In fact, it was the Christmas puddings that went viral on Not On The High Street and Instagram, they really blew the business up. 

As a business that predominantly sells online, how have you found it?
I do find it really difficult to be able to sell my products through an online platform. I'll admit that I'm terrible with social media, which for small businesses plays a big part in sales. It’s difficult because my pieces are all quite tactile. It’s something you need to see in person and feel, photos don't necessarily do it justice. Especially when it comes to fashion - it's a luxury. Nobody needs an oversized scarf for example, or a blanket necessarily, it’s something you buy because you think, “Oh yeah, like that,” or because you just want it. I’m absolutely aware that my knits are investment pieces but I make them in a way that will allow you to love them forever. Luckily knitting is something I love doing, so that gives me the motivation to keep going.

What do you think it is that sets your products apart?
I think being Black is one thing that definitely sets me apart. A lot of the time when people think of knitting, or somebody who knits, they have a preconceived image of what they think a knitter will look like. Perhaps an old lady sitting in a rocking chair, or even a hobby that’s just for people who are middle class, but I love that I’m getting the chance to dispel those myths. I’m showing people that knitting can be something different, it can be something a little cooler.

You're always aware of your Blackness. It's just not something that you can ever hide. From the outset, I have made sure that I’ve always been myself, I haven't policed anything that I've ever said. I’ve just channelled that, especially through my Instagram and people have resonated with that. 

What has been your highlight?
Claudia Winkleman buying my pieces was definitely a highlight. In fact, she’ll be wearing one of my scarves during the upcoming season of Traitors which airs in January, so that’s really surreal.

That’s big news, how did that come about?
I've done a couple of bits with Holly Tucker, who was the founder of Not on the High Street, and her team found me and invited me to get involved in a couple of projects. I know that Claudia and Holly both follow each other on Instagram, so that could have played a part. However, Claudia ended up ordering from the Rose and Wül website directly. After that, Claudia started messaging me and ended up asking if I’d make a moss green scarf for her.

It just goes to show that you never know who's watching, I've always been a massive believer in that. You’ve always got to put your best foot forward, I think.

So what’s next for you?
I'd love to have my own studio space because this wool is so huge. At the minute I make everything from my home, but I don't live in a massive house. I'd love to have my own little workshop, then eventually have a little team of knitters. That's my long-term goal. I always want my pieces to be hand knitted, no matter how big I get, or how many people I hire. It’s something that’s really important to me. I’m currently working on a cardigan too, I definitely want to start doing more clothing in general. 

So how do people get their hands on your amazing pieces?
Everything is made to order, I have colour charts on the website for people to choose the colours they want. Depending on the complexity, each piece can take anywhere between two to three weeks to turnaround. I love a challenge, nothing is too big, and I always love making new and unusual pieces.


We have a favour to ask

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion

Please note, we migrated all recently used accounts to the new site, but you will need to request a password reset

Sign in using

Or using your

Forgot password?

Register an account

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.

Forgotten your password?

Reset your password?

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.