Episode One

A glimpse from the By Chand studio.

Welcome to the first edition of my new blog, A Knit in Time.

After another successful year of By Chand textile designs, I’ve set myself a new goal to share more 'behind the scenes' and 'about the maker' stories so that when you invest in By Chand products, you also can learn about the inspiration behind the designs.

For anyone that has visited the website and my social media channels, or has come to see me at markets, you will know that I live for bold and vibrant colours, and there’s no denying this love of colours came from my Indian culture.

My parents were born in Punjab, India, and migrated to London, in the 70s, and then onto Birmingham in the 80s where I was born and raised. We lived in Handsworth which, still to this day, has a large Indian diaspora, and we spent many weekends visiting Soho Road, then a hub for all Punjabis in Birmingham.

Imagine walking down a bustling street full of sari shops showcasing the most colourful and exquisitely embroidered fabric, sweet shops tempting you in with the syrupy smell of jalebis, music shops making you want to spend your pocket money on cassettes with the latest British Bhangra thumping beats, and fruit and veg shops bursting with produce you only knew the Indian names of. Colour and nostalgia was everywhere! Looking back, it was an incredible little hub that our first generation migrant parents were part of, but so toned down compared to their home in Jalandhar.

Our annual holidays to the Punjab included daily visits to the local bazaar which made Soho Road look so tame. One of my favourite things to do in Punjab was flagging down a rickshaw and taking a scenic route to the bazaar, and rocking up at fabric shops to be shown the latest colours and fashion trends by the most enthusiastic traders. I'd come back home with so much colour wrapped up in my suitcase! Here is the family on a rare holiday to Kashmir in the late 80s, see what I mean about all the vibrant colour?!

Family holiday in Sri Nagar, Kashmir, circa 1989
Family holiday in Sri Nagar, Kashmir, circa 1989.

My parents, and my aunt and uncle, ran their own textile manufacturing company. My version of after school clubs was helping all the aunties finishing off the designs they had just handmade – snipping the loose ends of seams, folding the finished designs, packaging them for the distribution team and handing out chai every hour. I still remember the back room of the factory feeling like a big soft play area where I would jump from one large roll of fabric onto another. I was fascinated by fabric even back then and often created little collection books of swatches of fabric.

Working with textiles has been a part of my heritage for decades. I spent my early years living with my lovely aunt and uncle, and remember being mesmerised watching my aunt create the most beautiful Asian salwar kameezes for us and our relatives. She’d be able to take some rough measurements and then lay down a piece of gorgeous print fabric and just freely cut the fabric to the perfect dimensions, without ever creating a pattern. That woman has some skills! Inspired by her, I went onto study GCSE textiles for which my final project was a flared salwar kameez (flares were life back then!) onto which I hand embroidered silver beads...it took forever but I was so proud of the final result!

My creative journey then went onto dabbling with cross stitch art although looking back, I found this quite restrictive as there were strict patterns to follow. However, the delight of cross stitch is working slowly stitch by stitch to create a big tapestry, it’s magical seeing it come together over a period of time.

My niece with my last cross stitch art piece, circa 2017
My niece with my last cross stitch art piece, circa 2017.

During a few years in Manchester, I moved in with someone who became my best friend. She’s a talented creative and introduced me to the basics of knitting. It was great living with her as she was able to guide me step by step through my first knitting project. I still remember the joy I felt visiting a wool shop with her and choosing the yarn for my first project, an oversized blanket for my newly born niece. Even then, I was drawn to the softness of merino wool and loved the oversize feel of super chunky wool. I was beaming with the final result, as was my niece…

My niece beaming in my first knitting project, circa 2001
My niece beaming in my first knitting project, circa 2001.

Shamefully, my sister and I had no idea about the properties of wool back then, and we were gutted having found it shrunk and felted after a spin in the washing machine. I still have the blanket to this day, it’s definitely one for the memory box. That was it, I was hooked after that first knitting project (thank you Daniella for changing my life!). I loved how quickly chunky wool knitted up and the different look to mass-produced knitwear made on a knitting machine. I would receive a multitude of compliments on the scarves and hats I created so I started gifting them to friends for birthdays, even summer birthdays!

After a while, my friends started noticing that their wardrobes were too full of knitwear created by me and suggested I begin selling my handmade designs. This was timed with a move to the Peak District where I knew I would have a lot of time on my hands, and so Stitched By Chand (the original company name) was born! I hosted my first market in 2018 in Sheffield, and was so proud of making my first sales to complete strangers. I look back at this photo and see how far I’ve come!

My first market in Sheffield, 2018
My first market in Sheffield, 2018.

My last 7 years of living in the Peak District has allowed me to really push my brand. I loved going on long hikes, with my knitting in hand, finding a perfect spot to take in the breathtaking views of our new home! 

Rambling and knitting in the Peak District. 

I love learning new skills and craft, and so in 2019 I booked myself onto a macramé workshop, and again found myself hooked! Working on macramé designs has a very different approach; I don’t necessarily have a pattern in mind and love the playful nature of this art where I can create knots as I go and see what I end up creating. I love working on my textile designs in the outdoors and many neighbours have spotted me in the garden or in the local park with my clothes rail in tow, creating plant hangers or wall art.    


Macramé-ing in the garden.

When choosing my colour palettes, I always get drawn back to the colours of my heritage. I spent a year travelling in India and was astounded by the colour inspiration everywhere. One of my highlights used to be watching people wash their clothes in the river, it was a real community effort and a hub that brought families together.  I often look back at these photos for inspiration, and of course it’s another excuse to watch Bollywood movies - it’s my colour palette research!


Community hang out in Hampi, South India, circa 2008. 

I hope you have loved following along whilst I revisited my creative journey. I love that my heritage is an integral part of this journey and I look forward to continuing to share these snippets of inspiration that result in your By Chand designs! 

I’ll be sharing my love for macramé and hosting two workshops at Torr Vale Mill in February and March. You can book on here. If you’re unable to make the workshops, don’t forget you can also learn how to knit and  macramé from the comfort of your own home by purchasing one of my Make-your-own-Kits, which includes written instructions as well as link to an exclusive YouTube video with voice over instructions.  

Until next month and with colourful love,   



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