Alison Pottie, 37, owner of Wonky Woolies
One of my earliest memories involves knitting.
I’m sitting at home in the Borders, perched in front of the television, trying to watch Neighbours.
But it’s not the classic theme tune that dominates my memory – instead it’s a repetitive “tick, tick, tick, tick” that almost drowns out the Aussie accents.
Out the corner of my eye I can see my mum working away on her hand-linking machine, an amazing little device that joined together seams on the jumpers, cardigans, socks and scarves she had knitted that day in her shop on the high street.
She was always bringing home projects to finish at night, so from an early age I was surrounded by fluffy wool and clacking knitting needles.
In all honesty, I didn’t have much of an interest in my mum’s creations back then.
It was only much later, while I was at university, that I started to share my mum’s passion for crafts.
I don’t think that little girl trying to watch Neighbours would believe she would grow up to own a knitting business, just like her mum.
I studied Event Management and Spanish at University, holding down three jobs at the same time as my course work as, like most students, I was always skint.
One December I really wanted a new dress for a New Year’s Eve party, so my mum suggested we knitted one together.
She showed me how to knit a basic tunic dress, with a wee bit of shaping around the waist, and we made the front and the back before linking together the shoulders and the side of the body.
It only took about half a day to finish and I was really taken with how quickly I could turn a ball of yarn into something wearable.
From that point, I became obsessed with making new items, so my mum began showing me how to follow some of her old patterns, as well as new ones.
I was living in Glasgow and my mum was still in the Borders, so it was a really nice way for us to connect on the weekends and have a bit of quality time together.
I graduated in 2008 and, as you can imagine, the economy didn’t make it easy for me to find a job I really loved.
I originally planned on moving abroad to teach English as a foreign language, but those plans were soon scuppered when I met a boy and decided to stay in Glasgow.
I spent the next few years hopping between different jobs, but spending my evenings knitting new hats and scarves had become my real passion.
I wasn’t able to express myself or to use my creativity in my day job, so at night I would pour my artistic side into every loop and purl.
My mum and I had also started hosting little house sales and attending craft fairs and markets to sell our little run of products.
Eventually I realised that it was time to take the plunge and I started looking for opportunities to turn my hobby into a full-time career.
I realised it would be difficult to make a living just selling a few items here and there so, after a bit of research and talking to other people in the industry, I managed to secure a contract to make wholesale custom-designed hats.
That was seven years ago and I really can’t believe how time has flown.
Last year, my husband Graham and I decided we should move back to the Borders to help the business grow.
I may have spent 14 years in the city, but I will always be a country girl at heart and it made sense to go back to where it all started.
Plus, the Borders has such a rich history of textile manufacturing, it’s great to be a part of keeping the industry alive.
We’re proud to currently employ two local people, and we have plans to continue growing our team in the future.
My mum has been with me every step of the way, too, supporting and providing advice from the background.
Three years ago, when she retired, I gave her one day off before I employed her officially!
Graham also came on as a director when we relocated, and he spends most of his days tending to our precious new machinery, so it’s amazing to have his added support, too.
With the move, we invested £50,000 into machinery to expand our product range and set up in bigger premises, and we hope to continue to expand.
But, at the end of the day, we’ll always be a close-knit family business.