Hands Design Collective

I have always loved ShweShwe fabric and have been keen to bring its bright, colourful patterns to Craft Editions. ShweShwe is known as the denim of Africa and is used in South Africa in everything from clothing to household textiles; it is both distinctive and durable.

 Craft Editions is dedicated to working with makers in South Africa; visiting their studios and getting to know their stories and craft. But on this occasion, we met Adelaide Lor at an event in London and were inspired to hear about the Hands Design Collective and the work they are doing in Knysna, in the Western Cape, South Africa. We knew immediately that we wanted to work together!

Hands Design Collective was established in 2012 by Sarah Jane Barnhoorn with the aim of supporting local makers and creating jobs for disadvantaged women in Knysna. It is a female owned co-operative, all of whom have a passion for design and who work together and support each other in making a wide range of items including handmade clothing and home furnishings. Although Hands Design’s creator Sarah Jane Barnhoorn has since died, her incredible work is being continued by her good friend Adelaide Lor and the committed team at Hands Design.

Unemployment in South Africa is very high and it can be particularly difficult for women to provide for their families. The ethos of Hands Design Collective is to promote craft and provide training in craft skills - such as pattern cutting, beadwork and sewing, for women in the area and helping them to find work. Once trained however, many of the women simply do not have the income to be able to buy equipment such as sewing machines of their own, so the Collective buys equipment that they can book and use.

 Craft Editions was keen to support the work of Hands Design and so we have commissioned them to make an exclusive range of beautiful table linen in traditional South African ShweShwe fabric. The collection includes ShweShwe napkins, placemats and aprons.


We are delighted to be working with Hands Design Collective and that our recent commission has created work for five talented seamstresses from the local community around Knysna, who will receive extra training as a part of this process.

Commenting on the collaboration with Craft Editions, Adelaide Lor said they love that Craft Editions “is as much about the beautiful people as it is about the beautiful things”.

Find out more about Hands Design Collective.

All images by Alfred Lor for Craft Editions.