Five of the best winter warmers for Wool Week

Here are five of the best DSC8077winter warmers for Wool Week.

1. A bang on trend chevron throw from Tori Murphy (£250).  The throw is 100% Merino lambswool woven in Lancashire, washed in the Yorkshire Dales and made in Nottingham. The throw is deliciously soft, with a reversible design and hand finished with a traditional blanket stitch.

2. An organic duvet from Devon Duvets.  A duvet made from platinum grade British Wool that has not been bleached or chemically treated and 100% cotton and is handcrafted in Devon (from £130).   The untreated wool fibres work help to repel and wick away moisture encouraging evaporation, leaving an environment that is not moist enough for dust mites or bacteria to easily survive.  Regular airing helps the wool fibres maintain their capabilities.  You could even add a folding pillow, whose smart design enables you to air the pillow.

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3. A blanket from Welsh mill Melin Tregwynt, in the heart of Pembrokeshire and owned by the same family since 1912, the products fuse traditional Welsh designs with innovative colour.  For a more midcentury zing of colour look at Seven Gauges studio , whose lambswool products are designed and machine knitted in England.

4. A hot water bottle.  Handmade in Lampeter from sections of vintage Welsh blankets that have otherwise been damaged.  They are available in standard size (£30), and mini hand warmer size. (£19.99). from Jane Beck Welsh Blankets.  As the name would suggest the company has a wide range of Welsh blankets new and vintage, as well as other woollen accessories.

5. A desinature-shop-honey-green-450x352felt lampshade made of 100% wool felt dyed with environmentally friendly inks from Desinature (£28).

And if you fancy having a go, the Handweavers Studio runs an extensive workshop programme and regular weaving classes.

 

Knit Nation

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A kick start to Wool Week, with a free knitting class from Wool and the Gang in the John Lewis store in central London as part of Knit Nation.  I hadn’t picked up a set of knitting needles for twenty years, not since I had knit-perled along side my grandma.  However, Alexandra from WATG was undaunted by my absolute beginner status.   I was swiftly given an enormous set of wooden knitting needles and chosen a peppermint green ball of chunky wool.  Slip knot in place, cast on came out of the recesses of my mind, knit I could remember, and purl I was gently reminded of, and before I knew it I had my first row of ribbed stitches under my belt.  The giant needles gave me a sense of being Lilliputian, as did the sense of wonder at the evident skill on the sofas around me.  It was beyond my skill level to talk and knit simultaneously, but there were other novices to join me in my meditative state, and the industry was infectious, creating an immediate sense of community.

With the chunky wool and giant needles progress was rapid, and

knafter only an hour the hat was already starting to materialise.  Others in the groups attend or run regular knitting groups, and it is easy to see how quickly you can get to a level where you could maintain a good chat and knit in the company of friends.  It might be a while before I have knitted a pouf or cushion but I’m on my way.

The UK Handknitting Association has all sorts of information from free patterns to tips on learning to knit or knitting groups in your area.

Wool Week

 

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Wool Week (14th-20th October) starts tomorrow with a variety of events from Edinburgh to London to highlight the joys and virtues

of wool as a natural, renewable and biodegradable fibre.  Knit Nation is a series of free knitting classes and drop ins hosted by some of the UK’s most exciting knitting brands.  There are even men only classes from Wool And The Gang, so cast those stereotypes aside and try something new.

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And nominate your favourite interior wool product for the OneWool promotion.  It could be a rug, carpet, fabric, furnishing or even art, such as the gorgeous textured acoustic wall panels made out of felt by Anne Kyyro Quinn. My nomination is likely to be similarly surprising, fun and functional: the Solidwool chair, I saw last week at Best of Britannia.  To submit your nomination, e-mail a picture of your chosen wool product and your reason for choosing it (50-100 words) to onewool@campaignforwool.org.

Check out the Campaign for Wool’s site for a full list of events.

Knitting and Stitching Show

7819610_assocImage_3This weekend it is the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London, 10th -13th October.  If you need a little inspiration to make, do and mend, explore a new hobby, or advance an old one there is plenty on offer.  There are exhibits from some of the leading names in textiles, as well as taster workshops for the amateur and plenty of supplies available for to get you going.

Carefully curated would be heading for the Upcycling Academy,  headed by Barley Massey of Fabrications. and joined by TRAID, War on Want and Craftivist Collective.  There will be all manner of creative avenues for old cast-offs from rosette making to knitting with waste fabric, plus lots of customisation and ideas!

A hearty appetiser before Wool Week starts on Monday.

Creating the Future

 

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Taking place tomorrow at the Victoria & Albert Museum, a one day conference, Creating the Future, asks two questions: what does the future of design look like? And what skills and know how do children and young people need to shape it?

The days will start by asking the question, Design Education Would be Better If?

Tweet your answer to @sackler2013

There will be an address by Sir John Sorrell CBE, Chairman of London Design Festival and UKTI Business Ambassador, and former chairman of both the Design Council and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Ikea Hackers

 

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Welcome to an Ikea revival.  We took two Skoghall Ikea bedside tables or storage boxes, connected them together with a couple of 4x4x4cm struts, drilled down a plywood lid, and voila!  A new workbench, come desk, come toy or craft tidy for the kids.  We left it unpainted so years of crayon and paint abuse could be allowed to create a little personal character.

If you too have or find some unloved Ikea that could do with a bit of recycling va-va-voom, then have a look at IkeaHackers. The site is a mine of modifications on and repurposing of Ikea products, and an ode to human ingenuity.  Our amateur DIY moment pales in comparison to the multitude of the clever and creative hacks out there.

Early birds at the Sunbury Antiques Fair

 

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They say the early birds catches the best worm, and there was a flock of them at Sunbury Antiques Market when it opened at 6.30am this morning.  The antiques market takes place at Kempton Park twice a month, on the first and third Tuesdays of the month.   With free parking, and free admission, if you can brave an early start, you have your pick of over 700 stalls (350 indoor and 350 outdoor) selling a wide range of antiques including furniture, gold and silverware, jewellery, ceramics, vintage fashion, garden pieces, paintings, books and much more.  Later in the day there is plenty for the casual browser, but at dawn there was purpose in the air.  As well as trade dealers, we also sawprints general collectors, prop buyers, interior designers.  Our task for the day was to find some furniture to kit out carefully curated’s first project.  We struck a bit too early on a folding table, but made up for it with a hard bargain on a couple of bedside tables and matching dresser.  My favourite find of the morning was some botanical prints, a last flash of summer, before autumn arrives.

 

 

The Best of Best of Britannia

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After an aborted attempt on the opening night, I made it to BOB on Saturday afternoon.  As the sun shone down into the courtyard, there was quite a buzz, and it wasn’t just the boutique refreshments and high-octane entrance past a couple of Morgan cars.

Spread over three floors, there was a wide range of exhibitors from Fletcher powerboats to natural beauty care. I made a beeline for Solidwool to admire their beautiful chairs made from a sustainable composite of UK wool and bio-resins.

bob2 The material could be moulded into a wide variety of things, the chairs are just a starting point.  Designed and manufactured in Devon, the founder Justin Floyd, wanted to combine his product design with support for Devon’s wool heritage.

From the new to the old, vintage shoe lasts from the 1930s that have been recycled and remade into bookends, coat hooks, lamps, and even loo roll holders by White Dove and Wonder.

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It looks rather dashing in our downstairs loo!  Next door was the cosy collection of blankets from Romney Marsh.  The sixth generation of sheep farmers on the Romney Marsh in Kent hand-pick Romney and Merino fleeces which are hand-processed and woven in the UK by traditional weevers to create covetable cushions and throws.

More furry fleeces are at the the heart of Penrose Products, makers of luxury bedding made from alpaca fibres and organic cotton.  No chemicals or dyes are used in manufacturing the products, whose sleep performance rivals that of wool.

Leaves foraged from parks and paths, as well as kitchen scraps are used to create Entanglewood‘s botanical prints on lengths of cotton fabric that have themselves often been salvaged or off-cut.

bob3The results are subtle, warm colours evocative of an autumnal walk, complete with the silhouette of the leaves themselves.  The fabrics can be purposed as shawls, cushions or bedspreads.

Outside of my regular remit (it was the weekend), I was drawn to Sara C‘s collection of clothes with their vibrant nature-inspired prints.  Made from organic, natural fibres such as bamboo, cupro and peace silk, and eco-friendly dyes, and manufactured in the UK, the collection feels good on many levels.  I could not resist a scarf.  If it had been summer, I would have indulged in a pair of Mudlark sandals, too! With willow heels that are a bi-product of the cricket bat industry, and vegetable tanned leather, their credentials might be as good as they look.

 

 

Repairs after ravaging moths

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My eldest daughter found her favourite jumper had been ravaged by moths this morning.  I am far from a dab hand at darning, so I was relieved that I had bought these delightful and humorous iron-on patches last week.  The patches are from Twisted Twee, home to all manner of whimsical and wonderful things for men, women, weddings and the home.

The jumper itself is made from recycled wool.  Old jumpers are felted, recut and remade, then finished by hand with original crochet and trimmings from recycled fabrics.  So now it is on its third life!

Best of Britannia

 

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Opening tomorrow, Thursday 3rd October, is Best Of Britannia, showcasing British Brands & Makers that design and manufacture in the UK.  The event runs until Saturday 5th October, and is taking place in Clerkenwell, London.  Tickets are free.  Exhibitors range from fashion, food, and every accessory for the dapper (wo)man about town, and even the bike to propel you there.  Carefully curated will be on the look out.