Crafted with Care

Handmade in Bridge could be one of those ‘best kept secrets’ that only the select few know of. We meet the self-effacing innovator behind this modest sounding brand who’s niche products have captured the attention of many discerning clients.

Crafted with loving care, these unique wearable works of art are seductively simple, after all, what could be more straightforward than a shawl? And yet intertwined within each single garment are many influences and inspirations, that are blended together in delicate patterns, motifs and an array of beautiful colours that deliver something that is far more than the sum of its parts. Drape one around your shoulders and it is like being given a loving knitted embrace. One that lasts as it enfolds you in a soft and warming woollen hug.

A tale like this one is so often a story of a life, and in this instance that’s definitely the case. It’s the story of Sima, who is the maker of these wonderful creations, because without her life’s journey with all its rich influences and events that have shaped her, the vision she has for her art would not exist. Let’s backtrack to the mid-1990s, when Sima, then a teenager travelled from her home in Jordan to live with her grandmother in Earls Court in London. Her family are Circassian, an exiled nation native to the historical region of Circassia, in the North Caucasus, located east of the Black Sea, between Russia, Turkey and Iran. Circassia is no longer a sovereign country, a result of a genocide perpetrated by the Russian Empire in the 19th century, in a process of ethnic cleansing they were exiled to modern-day Turkey, and areas of the Middle East. Back in the 1990s it was estimated that approximately 3.7 million Circassian people were in diaspora in over 50 countries.

Sima’s family had settled in Jordan, and at the age of 15, she took the very brave step of moving to London to live with her grandmother to continue and finish her secondary education. Having always been of a creative nature, which manifested in an interest in fashion, her next step was to study Fashion Design at degree level, which is where she found her groove and cemented her love of colour, fashion and textiles. Sadly, her grandmother passed away around this time and the young Sima embarked on a period of making her living in various positions, which always had a common theme as they were in the fashion arena, be it retail, or pattern cutting for independent fashion houses.

She forged ahead, making her living and learning as she went, whenever it was possible, and she moved to the London borough of Camden, which she loved as it is a busy, colourful and vibrant area often associated with alternative culture and fashion. It was full of lively markets, music venues and a place that historically had attracted many artists and creatives with its heady bohemian atmosphere.

In 2013 she had, what she describes as, the great good fortune to spot an advert placed by Penny Burdette, a well known knitwear designer based in Camden, who was looking for a representative to sell her knitwear. Sima hit it off with Penny and she got the job. She absolutely loved the stylish knitwear, and when her new boss needed an extra knitter, Sima discovered that she has a passion for knitting. She says she owes this wonderful lady such a lot, she taught her everything from scratch, including how to use a knitting machine and thanks to her kindness she found an outlet for her creativity and something she really enjoys doing, that has given her the basis of her business to this day. She remains forever grateful to Penny Burdette.

She moved to the quiet village of Bridge in Kent back in 2019 and works from a studio in her home. The beautiful and unique shawls that Sima lovingly produces are made on a vintage Knitmaster 360 machine, it was manufactured in Japan back in 1975, which coincidentally is her birth year, and is a vital part of her creative process that brings her visions to life. She draws her inspiration from folk tales and myths, some of which are from her Circassian roots as well as other cultures. She also loves researching art, sculpture and antique textiles at the V&A Museum. Architecture also inspires her, she’s recently has become intrigued by nearby Canterbury Cathedral, with its glorious colourful stained glass windows, and the beauty of the natural world, animals, wildlife and plants, all call to her and are channelled into her art using the timeless Fair Isle technique she learned from her mentor. Each design is initially sketched by hand, then creatively translated into a knitting pattern, and eventually made by hand using the vintage, knitting machine. She works alone on this meditative and delicate process.

After exploring several different materials over a number of years, including lambs wool and other yarns, she now only uses sustainable, cruelty-free Merino yarn from British suppliers. It is available in myriad colours, giving her a rich pallette to bring her intricate designs to life and its unrivalled softness lends a luxurious quality to each hand crafted piece that is both beautiful and eco-friendly.

Her business is almost entirely carried out online via her website where it is possible for clients to view her collection, interact with her and make purchases. Sales have increased over the past couple of years and to her surprise she has many international sales, from the USA, Canada, Australia and Scandinavia. In fact there is an American star who is a big fan of her work. Quite often these snippets of info are a secret, however she can reveal that it is Sharon Stone. Ms Stone has one of her shawls and absolutely loves it, and follows Handmade in Bridge on Instagram.

Not all of Sima’s business is international and she sells to clients in the UK and locally in Kent. It is possible to make an appointment to make a personal visit to discuss a commission and choose to have a bespoke shawl made. As these are handmade products the process can take a couple of weeks, including delivery depending on the location, however there is also a collection service for those who are closer.

For more info visit: or call 07935 516212


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