Always work with your heroes

Sheila-Mary, Alan and Lesley

Sheila-Mary, Alan and Lesley

It’s not every day you get to work with your hero but our shoot for textile design consultancy Carruthers Associates and The Woolmark Company gave me the chance to do just that – for several days infact. It can only be said that Sheila-Mary Carruthers has been an all-round inspiration to me for my whole adult life.

Sheila-Mary in the design studio | By McAteer Photo

Sheila-Mary in the JofE design studio

I first came across her one day 31 years ago when I went to an open day at what was then the Scottish College of Textiles and is now Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design. I was wearing an 80s batwing jumper and a nervous smile and she was wearing leopard print tights and her trademark bob. She was a visiting knitwear lecturer at the time and I remember being terrified and fascinated by her in equal measure. Listening in to her talking to her students and being so generous with her knowledge made up my mind that textile design was what I wanted to study and it was her I wanted to be taught by. And that’s what happened – I graduated 4 years later with a BA Honours Degree in Industrial Textile Design having learned as much about life as I did about knitted textiles and professional practice.


So when Carruthers Associates invited us to work with them on their educational legacy project for their clients Woolmark, we jumped at the chance, packed our bags and headed to The Borders for a full-on week of photography and video shoots.

Planning shots in the design studio

Laying out garments | By McAteer Photo

Laying out garments

Filming at Johnstons of Elgin | By McAteer Photo

Filming at Johnstons of Elgin

Photographing details| By McAteer Photo

Photographing details

Photographing garments | By McAteer Photo

Photographing garments

Sheila-Mary and Alan

Project managed by Sheila-Mary, we shot stills and short video at Carruthers Associates studio, luxury cashmere manufacturers Johnstons of Elgin and designer Flora Norris-Collingwood studio. We covered all aspects of knitwear design and manufacture from yarn to garment resulting in a library of images that will accompany Sheila-Mary’s vast experience of the industry and presented as educational modules via The Woolmark Company.


So – over 30 years later my hero is still being generous with her knowledge, is still a little terrifying but even more fascinating.

Sheila-Mary | By McAteer Photo


You can read about the shoot and see more images in our story behind here.