AN Ayrshire pensioner who began making woollen neckwarmers as a hobby after retiring is now selling her creations throughout the UK and as far afield as the US, Canada, Austria and the Falkland Islands.

Rowena Paton, who worked for Marks & Spencer for more than 40 years, initially sold the garments at trade fairs. Promotion on Facebook led demand to grow, before ultimately Ms Paton launched her company, Sew Nice Neckwarmers, with advice from Business Gateway.

The garments differ from traditional scarves and can be used as fashion accessories, while providing warmth in winter. Ms Paton is currently testing out a limited range for summer, and also hopes to add clutch bags to her collection later this year.

The designer, whose wares are sold in shops in Orkney, Moray, Aberdeenshire, Fife, Ayrshire, Northampton and Surrey, said: “The response to my neckwarmers has been overwhelming and I still can’t quite believe how many orders we are getting in. My idea is simple but I spent a lot of time testing materials including faux fur and wool until I had the perfect suppliers which has played a huge part in the quality."

She added: “I feel ten years younger since setting up the business and at my age it feels wonderful to be learning new things and doing something different.”

Caroline Duff, adviser at Business Gateway, added: “Instantly I felt Rowena’s product range had a lot of potential as they were so beautifully designed and prepared."