Knitting a yarn back to our ancient art

The Company awarded its first grant to Cockpit Arts in 2012. Since then this partnership has grown in strength and helps link the Haberdashers' Company to its roots in the world of textiles and fashion. 

The Clerk's modelling debut, in Haberdasher scholar Olivia Holland's knitted silk jacket

It’s not often that you see a Clerk of one of the Great Twelve Livery Companies modelling a one-of-a-kind, hand-made, all-the-colours-of-the-rainbow, silk jacket. And so it was that a visit to Cockpit Arts was one of surprise, creativity and vibrant joy.

The Company provides annual scholarships to two artisans working in the textile (specifically knitwear) industry. Put simply, the funds subsidise the cost of the studio space and pay for business support workshops, one-to-one coaching and promotional opportunities. 

But critical to their success are more involved factors: the holistic nature of the support the makers receive and the fact that it is sustained over time. Pre-Covid, makers based at Cockpit Arts were making a strong contribution to the capital’s creative economy. Their profits grew by an average of between 12% and 20% per annum, outperforming the sector as a whole.

Combined with earlier funding, the Company’s support has now helped fourteen talented makers on their journey to establishing sustainable knit businesses. It has also ensured an increased number of knitters joining the studios and making a success of their unique businesses. 

However, none of this paints a true picture of the energy, creativity and talent that are at the heart of Cockpit Arts. These awards give the Company a means by which we connect to our ancient roots and textile heritage. They help ensure that our 21st Century philanthropy is playing its part in laying the foundations for a strong and healthy textile industry in the UK.  


There is more good news: funding from the Company has also helped Cockpit Arts attract funding from other supporters. Their recent partnership with the CAPITB Trust enables them to offer specialist apparel, textile and fashion expertise to ten Cockpit Arts craftspeople who are making garments and looking to build on their current success or break into the fashion market. Six of the ten participants are current or past Haberdashers’ Award winners.

Anna Davies and Katy Watt are the Haberdashers’ awardees for 2021/22. Anna says, ‘I want to shine a new, modern light on the craft of knitting’. Using hard materials alongside knitted fabrics she deconstructs our traditional notions of what knitting can create (you won’t find scarves or chunky jumpers in Anna’s portfolio). The studio space sponsored by the Company will help facilitate her journey to success. 

Katy says, ‘the foundations of my practice are ethical sourcing, technical experimentation and creative problem solving in knitwear’. In time Katy hopes to build her own knitwear brand alongside providing creative input and consultation for brands who include luxury knitwear within their ranges. 

The Haberdashers’ award is utterly essential in supporting new and fragile talent. This, combined with Cockpit Arts’ model of holistic and sustained support, will surely lead to future success stories in the world of knit and textiles. And further opportunities for the Clerk to model new knitted apparel would surely be the icing on this creative cake. 

If you would like to visit Cockpit Arts for their Winter Makers’ Market the dates are: Holborn, 26 - 28 November and Deptford, Friday 3 - 5 December (


”A Haberdashers’ Award at Cockpit Arts provides a transformational opportunity for new talent in knit to start up and develop their business. Equipping designers with essential studio space and expert business support, the Award gives them the best possible opportunity to reach their potential.  We’re proud that over the years, the Award has helped kickstart the careers of some of the most exciting names in their field, including Katie Jones and Genevieve Sweeney. 

With a shared commitment to education and to bridging the gap between talent and opportunity, there is a natural affinity between Cockpit and the Haberdashers’ Company. What makes this Award truly special is its connection with the Company’s historic roots. We’re tremendously grateful for ongoing support from the Haberdashers, enabling us to support talent to flourish.”

Annie Warburton

Anna Davies knitware sample

Katy Watt knitware sample

Susan Barry

Director for Charities