Subtitled ‘How I Went Bonkers About Making Things’, Anke Holst’s talk at 300 Seconds told how she went from working in a job she hated to running her own knitwear company, all in just over a decade.
Originally from Germany, Anka arrived in the UK 12 years ago and soon had a regular job, a car, a garden… but no sense of satisfaction.
After a period doing charity work and “worthy stuff” in Nigeria, Anke returned to London to work in publishing, then later in social media. But just when everything seemed to be going her way, a member of Anke’s family was struck down by leukaemia and she had to drop everything to be by their side.
During this dark period Anke embraced knitting as a way of staying “mentally strong”. Soon, this burgeoning interest was encouraged by a Dutch friend, who gave Anke a spinning wheel and taught her how to use it. Before long Anke was using the wheel to make yarn, and working on a variety of clothing and art projects.
The next stage of Anke’s journey began when a neighbour introduced her to a knitting machine, and she started to make dresses which have since become the cornerstone of her collection. And judging by the reaction of the 300 Seconds audience, who applauded her clothes when they were modelled at the event, Anke’s knitwear is a hit.
So what’s next? Anke admits that the process of making clothes can be lonely, and that she prefers to interact with people as she spins. So, using a portable antique spinning wheel, Anke now hosts spinning events in pubs, offices and craft shops, where she can speak to customers who also want to try their hand at spinning.
By doing these demonstrations, Anke has discovered that she enjoys being able to show people how her products take shape, and has found she’s most popular in places where creative people work digitally, as people who are stuck behind a monitor all day enjoy seeing something physical taking shape.