'My work is beyond time or any fashion-dogma. My products are little miracles; that’s probably why they touch people’s hearts. When you put your heart and soul into your work, people notice.’Visionary crochet designer Sophie Digard creates one-of-a-kind scarves. The floral motifs and hundreds of hues from her colour palette brilliantly display the artist's comprehensive grasp of the natural world. No two of her stylish hand-crocheted pieces are the same, yet they all share intricate details and stunning colour combinations. Cosmic or geometric patterns are thoughtfully arranged and some designs are exquisitely reminiscent of paintings by Klee or Aboriginal dot paintings. Her scarves, stoles, fibre-art jewellery, and other coveted accessories are all hand-crafted in Madagascan workshops, providing year-round steady work to 800 women. Crochet has come a long way since its European debut in the early 1800s. The humble needle art was often looked upon as a cheap substitute for needle and bobbin lace (until Queen Victoria took it up). A century later, Digard has successfully turned a homey needlework into ultra-contemporary wearable artworks with some of her scarves being made into cardigans and shawls for two characters of Jane Campion’s film Bright Star. ‘My work is very similar to Japanese handicrafts. I blend tradition with modernity using traditional fabrics and techniques, or near obsolete ones like crochet, to invent modern designs ... I create poetic geometry, with non-repetitive patterns that are quite challenging to crochet by hand. It’s like handwriting; each worker brings her own touch, so each piece will be different.’ Fine craftsmanship means time consuming and labour-intensive processes. The brand philosophy embraces the value of time, a key element in achieving its high-quality standards. The designer has long set up her own trends and working pace, hence keeping her thriving business off the beaten path. She believes that in this rational and materialistic world her products shouldn’t even exist. It takes 2 to 8 weeks to make a single scarf and preparing the yarns requires a team of 20 people. Digard mainly uses wool and linen but is thrilled to be trying other materials such as Malagasy raffia or sisal and different techniques like braiding and weaving. Having her production facilities based in Madagascar is a real and often stressful challenge. She first visited the Red Island in 2001 and has since set up one central workshop in the countryside and a multitude of rural workshops conveniently located near people's homes – there is no public transport on the island. Over the years Digard has developed a palette of 230 different colours for wool yarn and as many for linen. ‘Colour is the most enchanting part of my job; I think of the colours first, then of the materials. Creating colours is like creating perfume; it’s materializing the immaterial.‘ Reflecting on her success, she says, ‘I never planned to be a successful designer, I just focused on my inner-self, followed my instinct and my quest for beauty.’ For brand new Sophie Digard stock visit the Selvedge shop online. An extract from Anne Laure Camilleri's piece in Selvedge's exclusive Sophie Digard catalogue.