Knitting her way to a happier living. Rebecca Symonds on her stroke, her work and why she chose a calmer life…
In 2008, at just 31, Rebecca Symonds had a stroke that left the left side of her body paralysed. Not knowing whether or not she would recover, the experience caused something of a personal revelation.
“That could have been it,” she says earnestly, “I didn’t know if I would recover and it made me think, what am I doing with my life?”
It happened suddenly when Rebecca was reversing her car. She turned her head, tore an artery and a blood clot formed that moved up to her brain. At the time Rebecca, who is a former arts student at the University for the Creative Arts, led a stressful life working as an accountant.
"Rebecca’s evenings with the needles led to the life changing decision to save some money, quit accountancy and start her own business."
As part of Rebecca’s rehabilitation process and to try and gently improve the mobility in her left hand she took up knitting. Reigniting her passion for the arts, Rebecca’s evenings with the needles led to the life changing decision to save some money, quit accountancy and start her own business.
“I went back to work with a plan to put some money aside but I also wanted to prove to myself that I was still a capable person.”
After roughly two years back at work she swapped numbers for needles and set up Rebecca’s Room
With a love for all things vintage Rebecca creates rustic thick-knit hats, scarves, headbands, hand-warmers and accessories.
"Her creative process begins with a walk in the woods, a sketchbook and a pencil."
Her creative process begins with a walk in the woods, a sketchbook and a pencil. After drawing up some inspiration she returns to her country cottage in Farnham and designs knitting patterns to work from. Then it's a case of knitting, unpicking and knitting again until she’s happy with the final product.
“I’m a perfectionist. It can be a flaw sometimes but you need to be to write up patterns.”
Rebecca also sells downloadable knitting patterns through online shop Etsy.
“It’s another way of getting my designs out there. Knitting is so time consuming I don’t have enough time to make all the things I design.”
"I love what I'm doing right now and that is worth more than any salary."
As well as selling her products online Rebecca takes her creations to local craft fairs.
“It’s lovely seeing people wearing something you’ve made. You get to see their enthusiasm and it’s a real buzz.”
In the future Rebecca plans to expand her products to clothing collections. For now though, her order book is healthily full of accessory requests.
So would you ever go back to accountancy?
“Never say never, but I love what I'm doing right now and that is worth more than any salary. I’m definitely calmer and healthier”
Look out for this knitting needle lady at Farnham Maltings Unravel Festival, which she is helping to run from the 21st to the 23rd February.
Visit Rebecca’s Room online shop
Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccasroom
Like Rebecca’s Room on Facebook