There’s something to be said about the satisfaction of working with your hands. The meditative feeling of them in the dirt gardening, grabbing climbing holds, moulding a pottery piece, or in Emily Mabel Scholes Williaume’s case, tactile all-natural textured materials. A feeling of direct connection, often one little bit closer to nature, a step away from the fast paced world of technology.
Emily, the one-woman show behind knitwear brand Olann Handmade, was an instant hit with one of our team members when she met her at a winter market. The cozy knit sweaters were love at first sight. And when dreaming up creative collaborations on our coast, it’s hyperlocal and sustainable businesses we seek.
Slowing Down in Sooke
When Emily brought her knitwear business to life it was rooted in exactly that. A slow living, slow fashion mentality combined with a grounding sense of place. Finding home in Sooke on Vancouver Island but growing up in Ireland, the coastal landscape and changing seasons have played an integral part in her inspiration. Whether it’s a shade that blooms as nature thrives that she falls in love with, or the requirements of living the West Coast lifestyle itself.
The slower pace of her entirely original designs leans on long standing traditions of knitwear. Something Emily believes strongly in the value of learning. And something she thoroughly enjoys encouraging others to try. An importance in knowing where your clothes come from and how they’re made. Carefully pouring her creativity into the craftsmanship of hand knitting; each piece comes to life from hours of hard work. At the most she uses her domestic sewing machine for an opportunity to play with texture and weight.
Committed to sustainable and ethical creation, Olann is created using variants of wool. There’s no polyester yarn here. Making a move towards fibres that are functional while also being kind to our skin and the planet. Wool being an all-natural rather than petro-chemical fibre that won’t leak toxins into your skin. And at the end of its life it comes full circle, biodegrading into the earth. Whether discovered on a local level or from her Irish roots, Emily uses mohair, Canadian wools and merino. Fibres she’s so connected to they even became the name of her business. Olann meaning wool in Irish.
As a creative aligned with our community values, the art of hand-knitting at Olann also facilitates a move towards minimizing waste. There’s no pieces of pre-ordered fabric that could go unused here. And any small scrap that is leftover is skillfully turned into a dryer ball for sale. With all proceeds from these going to local Canadian non-profit Surfrider PacificRim.
Designing for the West Coast lifestyle is no small feat, especially with our temperamental PNW weather. It makes the use of wool an easy choice. A regularly undervalued material that has been around for millenia. One that marries durability with naturally odour-resistant and temperature-regulating qualities. It’s hands down one of our go-to fabrics all-year round. A solid choice to pull on as night falls with cooler air on warm summer days, or to add to your layering strategy in the colder months.
Seriously soft knitwear that doesn’t give you that prickly skin feeling, thanks to its use of luxurious merino wool over plastic-based textiles. As a hard-wearing fibre that sees sheep through days in the field and cold winters, it truly stands up to the test of time and seasonal shifts. And Emily’s commitment to the environment extends to the use of the natural dyes she uses. Adding an array of earthy and rich shades to her wooly wares that are reminiscent of the ocean and forests that surround her home.
Colours of the Coast
Our ecologyst x Olann Haven Cardigan in Lavender Grey makes us think of the fields at Bilston Creek Farm. And the Sage shade in the ecologyst x Olann Bligh Beanie brings ocean tones into our daily lives. It's a collection inspired by nature, designed for time spent outside. Chunky, handknitted variants of sweaters, beanies and cardigans that are completely original designs for the collaboration. You’ll find us pairing the slightly cropped and breathable Blythe Sweater with a pair of our shorts this summer. Bundled up on the beach or enjoying a tailgate picnic during a roadtrip.
Come join us for more creative collaborations and eco-adventures over on our Instagram and Facebook. Keen to catch more nature-inspired ecologyst films? Subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss an episode, or a new series. From Food Tastes Better Outside to behind-the-scenes at ecologyst HQ, environmental documentaries and Live Sessions with the likes of Ocie Elliott and Ashleigh Ball. And sign up for our emails below for exclusive ecologyst insights and offers, whether you’re interested in becoming a co-owner or our conservation efforts.