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As an artist and designer my work table is at the heart of studio life, and its surface is an ever-changing ‘collage’ of the projects I’m working on. The table is usually covered in a gorgeous array of yarns, knitted swatches, watercolours, sketchbooks and flower-filled vases, so I don’t always see much of the beautiful wooden surface itself!

I spotted the table at the back of my local vintage shop a few years ago. I was fascinated to discover that it’s an old brioche-making table (complete with a dough-proving barrel under the top), that the shop’s owner had brought over from France.

The moment I sat down at the table and ran my hand over the wood, I felt myself tingling. Somehow I instantly knew that it was almost my duty to continue the table’s heritage as part of a tradition of making. I love to think that this simple table—which would once have had dough being kneaded and shaped on its surface—is now enjoying a completely new creative life here in Wales.

I’ve always been incredibly inspired by the Arts & Crafts tradition, something that’s reflected by my love of working with a wide range of materials, from yarn and paint to clay. I’m also a real believer in the William Morris philosophy of surrounding yourself with things that are beautiful or useful since it’s so true how much joy they can bring from day to day. This former milk bottle drying rack, like my work table, was another treasure I found in my local vintage shop and have completely repurposed. There are lots of farms in this part of the country, and in days gone by a dairy’s freshly washed milk bottles would have been popped on the hooks to drain.

As soon as I saw the rack though, I knew it would make a perfect mood board. Rather like the surface of my work table, the rack looks different from day to day—and sometimes you can’t see much of it at all!—as I switch yarns and sample knits around, often taking a few steps back to assess and appreciate the newly emerging palettes and textures. I’ve been so busy with exciting projects such as Field Guide No. 25: Botanica and my latest book, The Knitted Fabric: Colourwork Projects for You and Your Home (Laine Publishing) that I haven’t managed to paint the motif I drew on the wall behind it yet.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve filled sketchbooks with watercolours, pencil drawings and pressed flowers. In the same way that many people keep a written diary, my sketchbooks are a visual record of the world around me. I’ve lost count of how many sketchbooks I have, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They’re squirrelled away all over my studio and house. The pages of my sketchbooks are where my designs begin to take shape, so I often look back through them for reference and inspiration. The initial sketches and drawings become part of an ever-evolving creative story; a design is never ‘finished’ since there’s always potential to develop it even further. I love looking at the motifs in my sketchbooks, remembering the origins of a particular design, reflecting on how it has developed over time, and imagining what form it might take in years to come.

No matter what season it is, my studio is always filled with flowers and foliage, whether it’s a few freshly gathered roses from my garden, a beautiful bouquet I’ve treated myself to, or some fallen twigs discovered on a walk and popped into a simple glass jar. I find it so inspiring and uplifting to be surrounded by nature, and I’ll often start sketching one of the flower-filled vases on my work table, perhaps having noticed a particularly eye-catching colour or pattern that could form the basis of a design. Having trained in fine arts, I’ve learned the importance of really looking, and it’s amazing what tiny, intricate details you begin to notice when you study something as apparently simple as a stem, leaf or petal.

I live in Wales, where I’m surrounded by gorgeous cottage gardens and spectacular scenery, from mountains and rivers to pastures and wild flower meadows, so there’s endless inspiration all around from season to season. I love bundling up in one—or even two (it can be chilly here!)—of my knitted wraps and heading out for a bracing walk along the country lanes and across the fields, taking in the constantly changing colours and forms in the landscape as I go. 

I’m never far from a cup of tea when I’m in my studio.  I love the whole ritual of taking a few quiet minutes to make tea, and I often find ideas springing to mind when I’m filling the kettle or letting my thoughts wander as I take my first few sips. I have a cupboard full of china samples from exclusive collections I’ve worked on with partners such as the National Trust and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, so there’s always plenty of china to hand. This Cottage Garden design from my second collection with the National Trust is one of my favourites though. There’s something incredibly satisfying about the generous proportions of the cup (which holds plenty of tea), and the saucer is very handy for popping a biscuit onto! 

After studying painting and fine arts, I completed an apprenticeship with Quaker potters in the Welsh Marches. The Quaker family I worked with were based just across the fields from the beautiful ruins of Tintern Abbey on the banks of the River Wye. The whole experience made me fall in love with working with clay and, over the years, I’ve created bespoke tiles and commissions for projects ranging from private houses to a school chapel. I’ve developed a unique way of making tiles and mosaics that encompasses my training and my love of painting and sculpture.

This little butterfly tile is one of my most treasured pieces. It was created many years ago when a biologist who lived nearby commissioned me to make a series of hand-painted butterfly tiles illustrating our local butterflies. My son was very young at the time, and he and I spent many happy hours in nearby meadows while I studied the butterflies that were flitting from flower to flower. As with all of my work, the designs began life in my sketchbooks before metamorphosing into the tiles. The butterflies I sketched all those years ago have provided me with endless inspiration, something I’m always reminded of when I look at this very precious little tile.

all images above © Dee Hardwicke

About The Author

Dee Hardwicke is an artist, designer, knitter and knitting book author who lives and works in Wales, UK. Dee continues in the artisan traditions of the Arts & Crafts movement and is endlessly inspired by the beauty of the British landscape from season to season. Her designs—which begin life in her sketchbooks and have been used in exclusive collaborations with partners including the National Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Museums & Galleries—celebrate Dee’s passion for color and for the wonders of the natural world.


  • I came across some of Dee Hardwicke’s creations many years ago. I think its a privilege to receive an insight into her delightful world of the beauty of nature and the inspiration she continues to draw from it.

    • Hi Claire, the trick is – don’t grow up and don’t forget to play! 😉
      Thank you for such a lovely comment and I’m so happy you enjoyed the piece! Dee ❤️

      • Your work is so organic and soulful. Things almost come to life as you create. Stunning

    • How lovely Jennifer, thank you for your wonderful comments and I’m so happy you enjoyed reading about my special objects! Dee x

    • I can only just ditto: beautiful and inspirational. I also enjoyed watching the video with Dee and Ann and Kaye.

  • beautiful and inspirational

  • This is gorgeous! What a wonderful way to display yarns and ideas.

  • What a wonderful way to start the day …..looking at all this beauty !, thank you

  • Thank you for sharing bits and pieces of your world. It is a beautiful place.
    You encourage people to slow down, observe, and notice the nuances.
    So, I took extra time viewing the photos, and noticed the loveliest sweater you wore in the first picture.
    Is there a pattern to share?

    • Oooh, my eye went right to that sweater too! Fabulous!!! And where is that pattern?

      • Hi BJ, thank you for your lovely comment and you can find the pattern for the Meadow Cowl Neck Sweater, that I’m wearing in the picture, in my book The Knitted Fabric. Dee ❤️

    • Thank you Suzanne, I’m so happy you enjoyed my pictures! The sweater I’m wearing is the Meadow Cowl Neck Sweater from my book The Knitted Fabric. Thank you again for your beautiful comments. Dee xx

  • So joyful and uplifting – I want to swatch all day now – ! And I believe the sweater is from The Knitted Fabric – one of the Meadow patterns

  • You are fanning my fire to move to Wales!! I love this narrative of your creative process…thank you SO much!

    • Thank you Kathleen! I’m so happy you enjoyed the piece and hopefully you’ll make it to Wales one day soon. Dee

  • Gosh, you’re so very creative. I’m in awe.

  • Dee, what a delightful treat to be able to start my day imagining I am in your lovely room, sitting at the old wooden table, reaching for a bit of bright yarn hanging on the rack, chatting with you and slowly making something enchanting. I am truly mystified and in awe of how you use your day to make so many intricate projects. Do you ever sleep?! I’m so happy to “know” you now! You are a rare talent and thank you for letting us into your world!

    • Hello PT and thank you for such beautiful comments, I’m so happy you’ve enjoyed this little look into my creative business – life! I do sometimes wake in the night buzzing with ideas so I keep a notebook by the side of my bed where I can jot things down and eventually get back to sleep. Dee

  • All I can say is that I want to be Dee when I grow up!

    (Dear reader: I am a fully grown attorney with only a smidge of artistic skill who loves to make things)

    • Hi Claire, the trick is – don’t grow up and don’t forget to play! 😉
      Thank you for such a lovely comment and I’m so happy you enjoyed the piece! Dee ❤️

  • Wonderful to learn more about Dee, your letter and photos are gorgeous and inspirational for me too, as other commenters have said. Thank you!

  • When Ann and Kay first previewed your work, I thought “this makes my soul sing”. Botanicals + knitting = my sweet spot. I am planning to renovate my kitchen, and your lovely work will be on my mood board. Somehow, I will work in a place to display a tray with teeny-tiny vases for small flowers, and of course, a comfy chair for knitting.

    Maybe it’s too much to hope for, but will you be at Rhinebeck?

    Thank you for sharing your talent and vision in Botanica! Warmly, Kathy

    • That’s so lovely, thank you Kathy and I love the sound of your renovations!
      Sadly I won’t be at Rhinebeck this year but maybe next year.

  • Beautiful designsm and lovley post. Thank you

    The sketchbooks for inspiration are a valuable tool, and a pleasure to have a history of the art you see. Your tea cup and saucer have a lot of charm.
    I love your sweater. The milk bottle dryer is very nice. I don’t recall seeing one before.
    The color of the yarn in the photo is one I have on my personal palette.

  • Besides being totally in awe of Dee’s beautiful work, my next thought was – jigsaw puzzle! How fun!

    My mother-in-law has dementia, and when we go on walks, she stops and looks closely at every little flower. It’s a slow walk, but fascinating. And amazing to see how the personality of the walk changes throughout the year. I don’t sketch, but I can take a picture!
    And I could also expand my color skills by really looking at how nature’s colors work together. I spent all those years with spreadsheets! Not a waste, but time to change focus!

    • Hello Katherine, thank you for your lovely comments and I love the idea of jigsaws! Thank you for sharing your beautiful, nature-filled walks with your mother-in-law, such special moments for you both and I love that you both take the time to really look at things. And a change of focus – how exciting! Dee ❤️

  • This does feel like a privileged peek in the studio window! How lovely and inspiring. Thanks!

  • I love, love, love the sweater Dee is wearing in her first photo. Is this a published pattern somewhere — I would love to find it if you have the information. All of her work and designs are absolutely gorgeous. And inspiring!

  • This makes me want to unleash my yarns from plastic bins and get to LOOK and FEEL them. Life is too short to let moths run your creative eye.

  • If I walked into this room I would never want to leave! Everywhere my eye would turn would nurture my soul by filling my eye with colors and texture, and I love the clever use of the milk bottle drying racks.

  • You have inspired me to sign up for a watercolor class beginning next month. I am in awe of your creativity and esthetics. Perhaps someday I will visit Wales. Thank you for all the beautiful designs in the latest Field Guide. I have signed up for the cowl workshop and am pondering how the Autumn Garden Stole can become a seat cushion for a dining room bench.

  • Will The Shoppe carry Dee’s book perhaps???
    Such beautiful art.

  • Any thoughts about the back of the swatched blanket? Seems like it will be a lot of carried stitches in the back. PS I love your designs, Dee. You are highly gifted!!!

    • Hi Margie,
      Thank you for your lovely comments! The back of the blankets is like a beautiful woven tapestry. I absolutely love the back and I hope you will too. Dee

  • Love your studio space and having just returned from Anglesey, Wales in spite of rain and winds I can see the beauty of the gardens, stone walls and cottages. It’s hard to decide on which pattern I’ll work on from Botanica! Will be stopping at William Morris House in Walthamstow next week.

  • Thank you for sharing your studio with all of us. I think “a room of one’s own” is crucial to developing all art.

  • Dee, thank you for all this vivacious color and for sharing your lovely vision with us. I’m grateful to have the name of that sweater you’re wearing (Meadow Cowl Neck)— it is stunning and is now on my short sweater make list! Finally, I’m inspired to explore my dad’s Welsh heritage, so I’m looking forward to more Dee magic.

  • Hi Dee, your work is so inspiring! I think I first saw your work in a Rowan magazine and was fascinated with your knitted buttons. Now I see painted ceramic buttons on your work table. Do you still have classes for the knitted ones? I have your new book and I’m making the butterfly pillow but transferred the pattern to needlework. Thank you for the peek into your work space. Simply joyful!

  • Quisiera,saber como compro libro oh si se puede en línea

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