Behind the Scenes Story
Hello! My name is Marianne Henio and I live in the West Midlands in the UK. I am a knitwear designer, pattern creator, pattern publisher, and knitwear design teacher, and 'Henio' is my brand.
How did I get my Henio knitwear designs onto the catwalks of new Orleans and the Southern Coast of America? And how did I arrive at my website, Knitting Utopia, today? Well, it's a story I'd like to tell if I may?
My Designs on the Catwalks
Why Knitting Utopia? Well, we all know that 'Utopia' is our perfect future vision of Paradise.🌴
So, in the knitting world, I envision our paradise as being a place where all knitting patterns are superbly gorgeous, each design is perfect, we choose and knit with ease, all our knitting projects go smoothly with our natural flow, and they turn out as we had intended them. They fit perfectly, we are proud of our achievements, and if, along the way, we require a little help, it is there for us first hand.
I would also like to share my knowledge of how to design, write and convert your own knitting patterns. So if you haven't already, then why not...
Henio, the Brand History
The name 'Henio' came from my Polish father's entry into the UK after WWII when he put his nick name 'Henio' (short for Henryk in Polish) on his papers. This was to become the family name. We are unique 😘 After my mother, I am the only Henio...apart from all the Henryk's in Poland, of course!
My passion for knitting came about from a very early age, being taught by my Grandmother to hand knit. This love has never left me.
Very early on I found that I could create a design without a pattern - 'knit-as-you-go-along' I call it. I have moved on from there and now use dedicated software to pattern design, although occasionally I will knit as I go along for fun!
A 'Knit as you go along' Design
In the 1980s, I left my career path in the Police Force to become a proud Mum.
During my pregnancy I knitted a lot of baby socks. 🧦
One day I was walking past a local yarn shop when this 'contraption' just jumped out in front of me!! It was something I had never seen before - a knitting machine! 😲
I visualised myself knitting the most up to date and trendy baby outfits at a very fast rate of knots (or indeed knits!), and so I had to have the thing! That was my first Brother punch card knitting machine and I still use the same machine today.
After my son was born, I moved on from creating enormous amounts of baby knits to the advanced stages of adulthood knits. My confidence grew on the machine and I began to produce some reasonable garments.
My family knew exactly what they were getting for Christmas and birthdays! Mainly 'Pringle-like' sweaters...
However, I got some orders too! 😉
Realising that there was potential here to earn some cash I swiftly moved into the Party Plan business.
Party Plan Business
I bought a rail, designed and knitted about 20 garments, created colour cards (yarn kindly donated from that yarn shop which started all this!), and then pestered friends relentlessly to hold designer bespoke knitwear parties.
As you may be beginning to realise by now, this wasn't the usual 'girl goes to college to study fashion design' route.
However, after a year of party plan I found myself the proud owner of a retail outlet and some loyal customers.
Work Room at my Knitwear Shop
Then the fun started...💃💃💃
I rushed into business as a naïve, but highly enthusiastic, 22 year old. I had also become a single mother by this time.
I had two mortgages - home and shop - plenty of ideas, but not many years experience in the business world, and very much on my own (apart from my Mum and son).
After a few years and a massive amount of struggle, and to cut a long story a bit shorter, I decided to go to University to educate myself 'properly' in my field.
I converted my shop into a house and moved in along with my young son, and went on to gain my BA (Hons) Degree and then my Masters.
Fast forward to 2013...⏩
A lot happened in between, by the way! I had learned the art of self publishing and published my first book, 'Making Money from Old Books'. This was followed by 'Images of Women in Art', 'How to Build a Website from Scratch' and 'Knitting for Therapy'. I sincerely believe that knitting is one of the best therapies on the market!
My 'Knitting for Therapy' Book
Throughout these years I had also continued to knit; both hand and machine.
My son became one of those 'unfortunates' who wore 'Mum's knitted creations' to school and stood out from all the other regimented school uniform wearers on the playground. 👦
It was at this point that I saw an opportunity of combining my passion for knitting and my ability to design and pattern write with my new skills in self publishing.
My mission was (and still is):
To design modern, up to date designs for machine and hand knitters and to teach knitters how to do the same.
Often I like to combine the two crafts.
There was already a lot going on in the hand knitting world, so I knew there was a market. I had a passion to help bring knitting as a trendy craft into the 21st century. And so the company Henio Creative Ltd was born.
Henio Creative Ltd
I designed my first hand and machine knitting 'Collections'.
Having built my website, I just needed an audience to see if my designs/patterns were going to hack it.
I was not a huge company with a bottomless advertising pit, or pot. It was just me 😊.
Immediately, I saw social media as my obvious route into getting my designs and patterns seen by knitters.
Joining various groups I began to enjoy participating with like-minded and talented knitters.
I was invited to join a Facebook knitting group by a member who had come across my designs (thank you Cristina ❤️). That was where the online journey really took off.
My Designs on the Catwalk Show
In 2016, among other designers, I was asked to create some designs for the catwalk show at the 'All Women's Achievers Awards Ceremony' in Birmingham.
I took 8 knitwear designs along with me and my models, and came home with the Fashion Designer's Award!
2016 Fashion Designer Award
As a contributor to the Machine Knitting Monthly print magazine, I happily wrote monthly articles for 18 months which culminated in two more books :) 'Love Your Body: What to Wear for your Body Shape' and 'The Zodiac and the Meaning of Colour'.
Having had the honour of being a guest speaker at both the AGM of the Guild of Machine Knitters, and the Nottingham Machine Knitting Annual Exhibition, I have been able to share my vision with numerous passionate knitters from all walks of life.
So, back to the beginning of my story...
A number of my designs were sought after and purchased to walk the catwalks...firstly in New Orleans, and then along the South Coast of America.
A proud designer, me! 😁
But not an end to my continuing story...
The Red Dress and Black Hooded Cape on the Catwalks
I have learned so much about this industry over the years that I could write another book! (Oh no! Here comes another 😉!)
Independent designers and pattern writers are struggling in a marketplace where so many free patterns are being offered. I truly appreciate the support I get from my fellow knitters, followers and customers.
As I continue to design, write and publish my knitting patterns, I am always at the ready to answer any queries that you may have about my work. Please feel free to use the Contact Us form or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So there you have it. My story about Henio. Below is a short video of some of my designs on the catwalks...