With no fewer than four grandmas all proficient in tatting, embroidery, crochet, knitting and dressmaking, who also loved to share their favourite crafts with their granddaughter, it’s no surprise that Jacinta Bowie grew up with a passion for textiles.
“When I stopped over at their houses they all spent time passing on their skills,” she says. “And one greatgrandma, who I sadly never met, was a herring girl from Dunbar and knitted fishermen’s sweaters, so I suppose it must be in my blood.
“I always knew I wanted to be a textile and fashion designer and was obsessed with these crafts from an early age. My mum had Golden Hands magazine delivered every month and I loved to make all the things for kids on the back page.”
One grandma taught her how to crochet at the age of four, followed by knitting when she was five. With three sisters, Jacinta always had to make four of everything, unravelling old jumpers to get enough yarn for her projects!
“When I was younger I loved how quick crochet was. The very first item I made was a large granny square style shawl in one square. I gave it to my greatgrandmother who lived to 106 and used it every day for nearly 30 years.”
Now living in a 19th-century mill worker’s cottage in the Saddleworth hills, Jacinta works from home as a textile designer, based in her studio overlooking the garden surrounded by an extensive collection of yarn, craft equipment and books.
“I have improved my work/life balance recently and try to work regular hours doing my commercial craft work,” she says. “My projects do spread out around the house during the day but I try to have the living room back to normal by the time my husband Paul gets home! Even though I crochet for work, I still love to do it in my spare time too. If I go on a car journey I need a project. If I turn up at the grandchildren’s house without my workbag they get confused. However I try to make things purely for pleasure after 6pm unless I’m up against a deadline.”
When it comes to crochet for pleasure, Jacinta enjoys using her skills to make thoughtful gifts. “I particularly love making Christmas presents for my friends and every year I choose a different theme. They have had tree decorations crocheted as snowflakes, trees, stars and snowmen. One year they all had hats and another star coasters.”
Describing her design style as “vintage meets boho”, Jacinta likes to work with silks and mercerised cottons in beautiful vintage tones. “The Yeoman Canelle 4 ply has always been a big favourite and I have used it time and time again over 25 years,” she says. With interests in many creative activities, including photography, sewing, illustration and graphics,
Jacinta enjoys hosting Wednesday afternoon crafting sessions for other creative friends, and says that being self-employed and working from home provides her with the space and peace to be more creative.
“When I worked in an office the noise and distractions didn’t agree with me,” she says. “I love to be in control of the creative process and take as much time as I need or want on a project.”
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