What a hottie!

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The cold winter nights are still with us and one way to warm up is with a hot water bottle.  Who wouldn’t love a cuddle with one of these?

The warm tones of the Seed hot water bottle from Seven Gauge Studio (pictured left) alone will spark an inner glow.  Each cover is knitted on a hand-powered machine from top quality lambswool, then individually washed and slightly felted for a softer cuddle.  They are priced at £45, including the bottle, and made to order in England.

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The hottie covers from Laura’s Loom (pictured right) are made from Bluefaced Leicester wool that is sourced from the Yorkshire Dales.  The lovely colours of these Howgill fabrics deliberately evoke the colours and textures of Britain’s northern landscapes.  All Laura’s Loom products are designed, sourced and made in the UK, proudly celebrating Britain’s woollen heritage.  The hotties are available in the three colours shown, priced £24, and fit a standard 2l bottle (not included).

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An upcycled alternative, is the selection of hot water bottle covers made from vintage Welsh blankets that have been damaged beyond repair available from Jane Beck.  The blanket remnants are salvaged to make limited numbers of mini and full size hot water bottle covers.  Prices from £19.99 for a mini hottie, with bottle included.

hottiebottie400px_250pxx370_99241f4dd82b68b3c9669f6c284a545bFor a homemade option, the Hottie Bottie hot water bottle cover felt making kit from Gilliangladrag includes the wool tops, ready cut plastic template and full step-by-step feltmaking instructions written by Gillian Harris, author of “Complete Feltmaking” and “Carnival of Felting”.  A basic felt making kit (bamboo mat and net) is also required.  I am quite tempted to sign up for a Learn to Felt course, £65 for the day at the Fluff-a-torium in Dorking.

cherrystonebagThe cherry stone bag from Momosan is an original, and understated alternative to  conventional hot water bottles.  The 100% African cotton bags are filled with cherry stones that are a by-product of jam and kirsch making.  Apparently, Swiss distillery workers traditionally heated bags of the stones on warm stoves to sooth bumps and aching muscles.  If you don’t have a stove to hand, you and I  can heat the cherry stone pillows in the microwave to soothe muscular tension or warm feet in bed.  The bag can also be chilled for use as a cold compress on sprains or headaches.  The bags are available in 9 different patterns and cost £22.

Nights need no longer be chilly!

All pictures are from the suppliers websites.

Sweet dreams with wool

duvetI have had my eye on some woollen bedding for a while, but recently out found that feathers and household dust may aggravate my daughter’s eczema.  Along with the 20% discount on all wool bedding that the Wool Room are running until 1st December, I had all the justification I needed.

The deluxe all seasons single duvet (reduced to £124) arrived with free delivery the next day!  The duvet is a summer 200gsm (3-5 tog approx) duvet and spring/autumn 300gsm (6-9 tog approx) duvet that can be snapped together with poppers to make a winter duvet.  The duvets are made from 100% platinum grade British wool, covered in 100% cotton and held in place with a quilted stitch pattern.  The duvet is machine washable on a wool cycle with wool detergent, spin and line dry, and benefits from a good airing.

Why wool?  Wool is a great insulator, helping to regulate temperature in hot and cool weather.    Wool ‘breathes’ and wicks away moisture (perspiration) when you are sleeping.   When moisture is trapped in a duvet, humidity increases which can make for a restless and disturbed sleep.  House dust mites also love warm, damp, dark conditions, and duvets made of synthetic fibres such as polyester or nylon or down are less able to regulate moisture.  As dust mites aggravate asthma and some other allergies, reducing dust mites may alleviate symptoms for asthma sufferers, and other allergies.  Wool is also anti-bacterial, and naturally flame retardant, as well as renewable, recyclable and biodegradable.

My daughter used to get hot at night and throw her old duvet off.  With wool we have noticed that happens less, and you don’t get all the stuffing getting stuck down one end!

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Already convinced of the benefits of wool, we invested in some wool pillows.  I was keen to try out the folding pillow from Devon Duvets as our feather pillows seem to loose their plumpness after about a year.  Wool needs to be regularly aired to maintain its qualities of wicking away moisture, and the design of the folding pillow makes it easier to hang the pillow and air it effectively.  Simple.

We ordered the 3 fold wool pillow (£69) made of 100% Platinum Grade British wool in a 100% cotton casing and handcrafted in the Devon Duvets workshops.   The wool  is not bleached or chemically-treated (chlorine gas is often used to make tumble drying of wool possible).  The pillows can be machine washed, but must be thoroughly spin and line-dried.  The pillows are soft, springy and supportive.  Perfect for my own private slumber party every night of the year!

 

 

Flash sale on natural fabrics at Ada & Ina

 

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If you have been thinking about whether to refresh some of your curtains, blinds or upholstery, seize the moment to take advantage of a flash sale at Ada & Ina with 10% of all made to measure products and fabrics, until midnight on Friday 1st November (discount code DECOR8).

Ada & Ina stock a wide range of natural fabrics and linens in subtle textures and colours.  I have been on a green theme, hence the selection in the picture for a current project, but there are naturals, neutrals, blues, pinks, well all the colours of the rainbow in plain, check, strip, contemporary and traditional prints.  You could go mid-century modern geometric or country cottage floral, but all are discounted this week.

oeko-tex-chemical-free-ecological-fabricsSeveral of the fabrics (including the linen pictured bottom centre) are Oeko-tex certified, which means they comply with the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100.  The Oeko-tex Standard is a system for analysing and certifying textile materials at all stages of production, from raw fabrics to ready-made clothing, bed linen and curtain fabrics.  The Standard exceeds current national legislation and tests for harmful substances including known harmful, but not legally regulated chemicals.

As well as fabrics, Ada & Ina offer made to measure blinds and curtains, bed linen and other household products such as linen towels.  And you can order up to five samples for free!

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.

 

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.

 

 

Tent London & Super Brands highlights

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In the Scale of Carbon sat at the centre of the Super Brands event during the London Design Festival.  The exhibition, by the Materials Council, represented the volume of various architectural materials that can be produced for one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions.  Each of the materials was physically represented in a cube form and, the larger the cube the greater the quantity of that material that could be produced for the same volume of CO2 emissions, or ’embodied carbon’.  A literal measure of sustainability.  Carbon isn’t the only measure, but it is an important one.  The average new UK home releases around 50 tonnes of CO2 embodied carbon in its construction, that is enough carbon to drive around the earth 11 times!

Next door, Interface, a leading commercial carpet tile manufacturer, showcased its Net Effect products.  Net-Works is a partnership programme between Interface and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Aquafil to tackle the problem of discarded fishing nets.  Net Works takes discarded fishing nets from remote fishing communities and recycles them into carpet tiles, the Net Effect products.  The programme aims to collect 200kg of nets from each village every month.  The result, beautiful carpet tiles that capture the colour and texture of the ocean.

There was plenty more biophilic design on display:  Hand drawn wallpapers inspired by rural Shropshire from Katherine Morris at Earth Inke.  The teasels in cream tea were developed using natural clays from Shropshire; Abigail Edwards had sky, seascapes and owls adorning her wallpapers printed with hand mixed non-toxic water based ink; and the english countryside are the chocolate creative’s inspiration for theirnew English Romantic Collection of cushions.

gyo_eg_product_thumbnailBold & Noble‘s collection of wallpapers and screen prints cherish a connection with nature with depictions of trees or birds around Britain, a ‘Grow your Own’ calendar or reminder to Bee Kind referencing bee-friendly plants (£43, 50x70cm).

I loved Daniel Heath‘s antique wall mirrors, and reclaimed Welsh slate tiles engraved with an Espalier (fruit trees growing horizontally) design complete with jays perching between gnarled apple branches ripe with fruit.

Recycling and upcycling was in evidence at Furniture Magpies, GalapagosSukie’s recycled papers and cards, and the vibrant textiles of Parris Wakefield on furniture from Out of the Dark, a charitable social enterprise that recycles, restores and revamps salvaged furniture.  Chunky knits were used  to great effect as upholstery by Rose Sharp Jones and Melanie Porter.

Design and craftsmanship were plentiful at the Galvin Brothers, nominees for Best British Designer at the Elle Decoration British Design Awards, 2013. Their Moonshine footstool was a hit.  All of Sebastian Cox‘s work is made frothumb.phpm British hardwoods from well managed forests.  The ‘Rod’ desk lamp is made from  compressed hazel fibres for the shade and steam bent hazel for the rob.  It has an LED bulb, and R.R.P. is £175.  The hazel is hand coppiced in Kent.  I also liked the Suent, lightweight chair with its woven seat.

Finally,  Studio180° launched their eco modular sofa and horsehair mattress.  The sofa is made of the highest quality natural materials with out glue or steel coils, and the “Cradle-To-Cradle” circular economy model is at the heart of the design.  All the materials used, except zips, are either biodegradable or recyclable and free from toxic flame retardants and harmful chemicals.  The chaise-longue element is provided by a full mattress made of horsetail hair.  Horsehair, with its natural springiness, has been used in bedding for centuries, and is still used by premium brands such as Vi-Spring.   I could have lingered for a long time on the Sen sofa, but duty called!

 

Sleep tight

The seasonal shifts of an Indian summer can cause the thermometer to yoyo and make it tricky to be just warm or cool enough in bed, so I find myself cherishing our wool duvet.  I have long been persuaded of the benefits of wool clothing, and a couple of years ago bought a wool duvet.

In summer, the wool’s capacity to breathe keeps us cool, and in winter, wool’s excellent insulation keeps us warm.  It also keeps you dry, perhaps more than all natural fibres, as wool can absorb water quickly, up to around a third of its weight, and release it back into the environment slowly (polyester and nylon only absorb 1% of their weight in water).  This helps to control humidity,  which makes the environment less hospitable to dust mites, a boon for allergy and asthma sufferers.  Wool will even moderate each person’s micro-climate under the same duvet!  And the wool doesn’t all get clogged down one end, as some other duvets do.  What is more, wool is natural, flame retardant and sustainable as Shaun the Sheep gets a shear at least once a year!

When I bought my wool duvet, I could not find a British product, but at the Little Creatures Festival at London Zoo last weekend, I met Jen from The Wool Room who were supporting the Shaun the Sheep Pom Pom Parade, along with the Campaign for Wool, to make pom pom sheep out of wool and to set a new world record.  The Wool Room produce a range of bedding from British wool as well as a range of blankets and nursery items like baby sheepskins.  Prices for a duvet start from £90.

And if you fancy making a friend join Shaun’s flock at home you can download the official PomPom making kit from the Wool Room website.

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