About Ria Burns Knitwear
I’m Ria Burns, a knitwear designer that specialises in naturally dyed British wool knitwear. I design, dye and make sustainable womenswear and accessories from my studio in Bristol. I’ve been running my knitwear business part time since 2015 from my tiny home studio, using vintage knitting machines.
I’m just about to complete a Masters in Textile Design, where I have researched and developed the use of natural plant dyes on British wool. My new collection aims to champion the natural hues and qualities of British wool, incorporating vibrant pops of plant dye colour. I aim to produce pieces that are the opposite of fast fashion, designed for longevity and made to be cherished, looked after and passed down.
Why am I crowdfunding?
I’m raising funds to upscale my business and move into a proper studio so that I can work more efficiently, and to transform my ex-lawn into a working garden for growing my own dye plants.
The money will go towards turning this dead space into a productive garden, full of useful plants that I can use for dyeing wool. Currently I forage for plants in my local area or buy dried plant material from an organic supplier. By turning my garden into a productive dye garden I will have complete control and knowledge of the plants I am using. I will be growing traditional plants such as madder, which can take three years to mature - this is the essence of slow fashion!
By growing and harvesting my own plants I will be reducing the carbon footprint of my clothing and I'll also be able to dye on site from the fresh source. Even making small changes such as getting water butts so I use rain rather than tap water will help increase the sustainability of my practice.
By moving into a proper studio I will be able to be more productive and open my studio up to arrange fittings for bespoke orders and have a space to showcase my knitwear to you. I will also use some of the money to invest in better equipment so that I can work more efficiently.
I believe as a designer I have a responsibility to work as sustainably as possible with as little impact on the planet. That’s why I choose to work with British Wool. It’s a sustainable, renewable fibre that is incredibly hard wearing and is also biodegradable. It’s also why I have chosen to work with natural plant dyes instead of petrochemical dyes. Using natural dyes and undyed wool gives each item a unique quality.
I’m constantly surprised by the vibrant colours that can be achieved with natural dyes, whether that be the bright yellow from weld, the deep blue from indigo or the rich dark brown from foraged walnuts. Even food waste such as avocado skins can be used - they make an unexpected dusky pink colour!
I produce everything in house in limited edition small batches using zero waste production methods when making my knitwear. Any leftover yarn gets made into things such as earrings or is used to tie my swing tags. Because I haven’t used any chemicals to dye the yarn, any scraps that are too small to be useful are safe to go into my compost bin which in turn feeds my plants!
As a thank you for believing in my project, pledge rewards will be pieces from my latest collection with a special Crowdfunder discount of at least 25%. Earlier pledges get better discounts on some items. All rewards (apart from bespoke pieces) will ship before Christmas!
UK postage is included in the price, but there will be an extra charge for international orders. When you reach the checkout page after pledging, you can add an additional donation to cover the extra cost, which is:
Europe (including ROI): +£4
Rest of world: +£6
Digital Lookbook and Thank You! - £5
A digital copy of the lookbook from my latest collection, plus a personal digital thank you.
Postcard Set - £10
A set of 5 postcards featuring images from my collection plus a hand written thank you note, printed on recycled card with eco inks.
Lookbook - £20
A printed hardback lookbook from my latest collection, plus a hand written thank you note.
Tassel earrings - £12
A pair of tassel earrings handmade with leftover naturally dyed yarns - each pair is unique! The colours will be random, but if you have a particular preferred colour, let me know when pledging and I will make a pair that fits your style.
The Allium hat - £25
The Allium hat is hand knitted in a super chunky, super cosy, Bluefaced Leicester wool which is dyed with the humble onion skin. Easy to wear and really warm! There are 4 available at this special Crowdfunder price which is 45% off the usual price.
The Caloplaca Cowl - £20 (earlybird price) or £30
Inspired by the shapes of lichen against concrete, this cowl is knitted with naturally grey British wool and hand dyed wool dyed with weld, then overdyed with indigo to give a vivid yellow and green stripe pattern.
The Jura Cowl - £20 (earlybird price) or £30
A cowl that showcases the natural shades of British wool. Soft, cosy and perfect for cycling and chilly walks. Knitted in my signature stripe pattern which was inspired by the breathtaking scenery of Jura.
The Ombre Scarf - £25 (earlybird price) or £35
A naturally off-white knitted British wool scarf dip dyed by hand to create a lush ombre. Available in four colours - indigo, lemon, raspberry and orange.
The Grace Skirt - £75 (earlybird price) or £100
Knitted with naturally grey British wool which is dip dyed into indigo (blue) and weld (yellow), this simple pencil skirt is elevated with the optic striped dye pattern and acid yellow bands around the hem. Really comfy to wear and easy to dress up or down!
The Anita Jumper - £100 (earlybird price) or £150
This boxy, cropped jumper with 3/4 length sleeves features my signature stripe design. Knitted in British wool, the grey and dark brown elements are the natural colour of the sheep's fleece, whilst the ochre stripes are dyed with rhubarb root.
Bespoke Garment - £350 (earlybird price) or £500A completely unique item of your choosing such as a jumper, skirt or dress. I will arrange a design consultation which can take place in person in Bristol or within the local area, or via video chat and email if you live further away. I will select the yarn and dye materials based on your preferences, and keep you updated throughout the design and making process.
1:1 Beginners Machine Knitting Lesson - £70
Would you like to learn how to use a knitting machine and make your own knitwear? Over 4 hours I will teach you the basics and advise on the various knitting machines that are available to buy.
This one-to-one workshop which will take place at my Bristol studio at a date that is convenient for you. You will leave with a variety of swatches and handouts so you can begin machine knitting on your own!
By backing my Crowdfunder campaign you will be helping me to expand as a business and be able to sustain myself as a full-time designer/maker/gardener.
Video by David Newman of Bad Monkey Films