The Hastings woman turning drawings into personal keepsakes
Everyone has their favourite places – where you met your partner, where your baby was born or where you grew up.
“Maps hold a significance and mean a lot to people,” explains Sally Underwood the founder of OmPomPom knitwear.
“People love looking at maps of their home towns or where they grew up, so I’m not surprised at how popular it has been.”
The business started in 2013 with a map blanket Sally made for her son Rufus with an x marking where he was born.
“People in Hastings started to ask me to make them one and it grew and grew,” she says.
“I have made map blankets for Japan, China, Korea, and Germany. Some have featured maps of where the mother, father or child was born.
“Another had Guildford where the baby was born and Sweden where the parents met.”
The blankets are made double length, the maps have that one side and clouds the other, whereas the bee blanket has colour contrasting bees.
Before setting up OmPomPom Sally worked in knitwear design in Italy and London for fashion houses such as Diesel, but arthritis meant that she could no longer do the job she loved.
After completing a masters in design research in disabilities, she was offered a job in Wales as a researcher.
“But it all became too academic and I missed being creative and playing with colour so I moved back to Brighton, worked in a library, and then moved to Hastings,” she recalls.
Due to her arthritis Sally’s knitting machine is motor powered using a pedal and she uses the designer knit computer programme.
“I draw the picture, create a JPG and then it feeds into the machine which chooses the needle and then knits,” she explains.
A recent project of Sally’s involves her son Rufus’s school.
“I did a career talk and they are doing Into the Woods so I said to them if they did drawings I would create them something so I am currently working on 27 mini cushions for his school.”
Alongside the map blankets Sally also sells hot water bottle covers, socks, scarves and blankets featuring your children’s drawings.
“I wanted to make something for my son Arlo as Rufus had the map blanket,” recalls Sally.
“I was at my brother’s and saw drawings his children had done when they were four or five and they were just beautiful so I asked if I could use them and put them on the blanket.”
For the toys, cushions and blankets featuring line drawings Sally asks people to either send in jpg files, photos or the pictures in the post and she will scan them into her computer.
Sally loves doing commissions as it helps her to think outside the box.
“I love it as there will be colour combinations I don’t want to try as I don’t want to waste wool but then a commission will ask for orange and pink and I think ‘yes, I have always wanted to do that colour way’,” she says.
“It just makes it really interesting when kids get involved and choose colours.”
For commissions Sally gives a turnaround time of two weeks which includes the drawing, inputting the design, knitting, washing and finish touches.
When it comes to the name - OmPomPom the inspiration has nothing do with pom poms.
“I have lived in Great Yarmouth, Cardiff, Brighton and Hastings so I have always lived beside the seaside...and wanted a playful name,” she smiles.
For knitwear with the personal touch Sally is the woman for you.
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