Rowan started life above a grocery store in a village near Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire, England. While initially specialising in weaving supplies and knitting kits, founders Stephen Sheard and Simon Cockin wanted to produce yarn which was both high quality and perfect for the hand-knitting design trends of the time. Their business focus was to showcase natural fibres in a paint-box colour palette, and so Lightweight DK was born with 98 shades. They placed the utmost value on providing yarn shades which could be translated into timeless design, and these values are still at the core of Rowan today.
The Rowan name was inspired by the beautiful shrubs lining the banks of the Holme River in Yorkshire, an area deeply entwined with British textile heritage and traditions. There has always been a nod to the Rowan leaves in our logos as they have evolved. In 1979 the company purchased the Green Lane Mill in Holmfirth, and that was our home for the next 15 years. While our studio has moved and our needs have grown over the years, we are still in Yorkshire some 40 years later. And, though our ownership has changed several times, the ethos of growing our brand, providing quality fibres, and staying true to our knitters and crocheters has remained the same. As local to our roots as we are, our influence has become global. Rowan partnered with Westminster Fibers to take the brand to the US in 1985, and from there we have expanded our reach to over 30 countries around the world.
In 1982, a chance meeting between Stephen Sheard and Kaffe Fassett steered Rowan in a new direction—to creating designer-led projects for our growing number of followers. Their first big success was a mail order kit shown on the cover of Woman & Home magazine in 1983. The orders were way beyond expectations, and this led to the launch of our own Rowan magazine in 1986. Today, we still use the inspiration of our key designers, and Kaffe Fassett is first amongst them, continuing to design incredible knits in his signature colourful style. Currently, he’s joined by our elite team of talented designers, including Lisa Richardson, Martin Storey, Erika Knight, Brandon Mably, ARNE & CARLOS, Quail Studio, and Georgia Farrell. Our ultimate mission remains the same as it’s always been—to offer a selection of high-quality yarns paired with designer-led inspiration that our followers will find a pleasure to knit with and to wear.