Posts Tagged ‘accessories’

Natural substance, natural style: the maker and her textile goods inspired by wild nature

Monday, August 28th, 2017

Angela Hume of Pale Grey Skies was brought up in wild and beautiful Northumberland, in the North East of England, and now lives in equally wild and beautiful Aotearoa. The scenery and changing weather are an inspiration for her products, which are hand made from natural linen and cotton in colours which reflect the surroundings and skies that inspire her.

What do you make?
I make homewares and accessories in natural linen – aprons, market bags, cushions, hand towels, and cosmetic bags, in simple, functional designs.

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What brought you here?
I am originally from Newcastle in the North East of England, I lived there with my husband and twin boys until February last year when we decided to up sticks and move lock, stock and barrel to New Zealand.

In the UK I worked for over 20 years as a pharmacist but had become quite unfulfilled in this career and yearned to do something more creative. In my 40s with two teenage sons I started to feel like it was now or never. With life seeming to pass by so quickly and the children growing up so fast it felt like the right time to look for a change of pace and lifestyle.

A friend once posted on Facebook that “You are only one decision away from changing your life,” and that struck a chord with me. Within a few months, we were on a plane to New Zealand with all our worldly possessions (slowly) following us on a container ship. The start of an amazing family adventure.

So, that was the life change but now what? Here we were in this beautiful country, my husband had a job lined up and the kids were quickly settled in school, I needed to make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity.

I have always loved interior design, textiles and crafting, so set my mind to creating things that I would love to have in my own home, with the hope of making a business out of it. Choosing natural eco-friendly linen to work with and a simple, unfussy design style, Pale Grey Skies was born.

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How did you get into your craft?
My Mum sewed a lot when we were children, she would make my sister and I clothes when we were young and I always thought it was quite magical how she could turn a piece of fabric into a pretty top or a dress. I had wanted to learn to sew for years, but it wasn’t until I took a sewing course at evening classes that I became hooked.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
I am mostly self taught when it comes to sewing. I took a beginners’ sewing course originally which covered the basics such as choosing fabrics, cutting out, and how to use a sewing machine. After that I became a bit obsessed and through a process of trial and error improved my skills on the machine. Making anything and everything to begin with, from clothes to bean bags to curtains, gave me a wide range of different skills.

My philosophy is to create simple, unfussy designs which are both useful and beautiful.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Favourite material has to be linen, linen, and more linen! I love the way it feels, the way it gets softer with every wash, the way it looks and also its eco credentials. Linen can be grown with little or no pesticides and uses a lot less water to grow than cotton – and is sustainable and long lasting. It is cool and breathable and looks fantastic but is also a lovely material to sew with. It has a really pure, rustic quality that I am really attracted to.

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Tell us about the techniques involved in designing and producing one of your pieces:
I first think about what I would like to have in my own home, then go about designing the basic pattern for whatever it is. My favourite part is picking the colours of linen I am going to be using, usually neutrals, greys, blues are the colours I am drawn to. The linen will then be washed and dried a few times before it is cut, this is both to soften it and prevent any shrinkage after the item is finished. Then it is on to cutting out the pattern and sewing it.

What inspires you?
I am inspired a lot of the time by other craftspeople, I love seeing the things other people produce and the time, effort, imagination and talent that goes into these unique products. For my designs I think nature offers the most inspiration. I love walking and collecting shells, pebbles and driftwood and often use these to inspire the colours in my designs.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Keep it simple! My philosophy is to create simple, unfussy designs which are both useful and beautiful. Linen is such a beautiful fabric, it doesn’t need embellishments, just functional clean lines. I always use the best fabrics I can find, good quality linen and threads results in a piece which is timeless. I make things I love and would want in my own home.

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Describe your creative process:
I sketch out the design then work out a pattern. Next I look for the most suitable linen for the project. Some items, such as market bags, look better with a raw, rustic linen, but others, such as cushions, lend themselves to a finer, softened linen. Then it is on to cutting out the linen and sewing it up. Often the design is not perfect first time and needs a bit of tweaking before I am happy with it. I try to make everything a little bit unique; different linings for bags, different pockets on aprons etc, just so no two pieces are identical.

Describe your workspace:
Although I would love to have a separate work room, at the moment limited space means I have taken over a small section of the living room as my workspace. A beautiful old wooden desk that I hand painted in a french grey chalk paint is my sewing bench, and houses my sewing machine and notions. We live in an old weatherboard villa with high ceilings, sash windows and beautiful light, so although it is not ideal as a workspace, it is a lovely creative space nonetheless. I have old rustic crates and pretty ceramic bowls as storage to try and stop my things from taking over the whole living area. A piece of corrugated iron on the wall doubles as a mood board for my designs.

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Five words that describe your mind:
Dreamer, curious, optimist, wanderer and idealist.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“It arrived, I’m in love, I’m never taking it off.” What more could you ask for really!

What are you currently listening to?
I often listen to music when I am sewing and at the moment that is anything from The Killers, Gregory Porter, Aretha Franklin, Mumford and Sons, and Florence and the Machine. A bit eclectic I suppose!

Recommend an album:
The Lumineers‘ self titled album is a favourite of mine and we often have it on in the car when we go on road trips.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Anything by Roald Dahl, particularly Danny the Champion of the World. I was desperate to live in a gypsy caravan like Danny (still am really). I bought them all again when my children were small and it was lovely to get the chance to introduce them to the stories too. I was a real bookworm as a child and could easily spend hours with a good book hidden away in my room.

What are you reading now?
Cloth by Cassandra Ellis. It is a beautifully photographed reference book with lots of background information on different fabrics including history and uses and also includes some beautiful sewing projects.

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A favourite quote:
My favourite quote relating to design is by William Morris. “If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Tell us about your pets.
We do not have any pets here in New Zealand. We have a beautiful cocker spaniel called George, but unfortunately he was not up for the big journey over here, so he is living with my best friend back in the UK now. We Skype him regularly and all really miss him, but he is thoroughly spoiled where he is and quite happy.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Pick something you have a real passion for. It is not always easy starting out but if you are making something you truly love and believe in, it is worth the setbacks.

I love the way [linen] feels, the way it gets softer with every wash, the way it looks and also its eco credentials.

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What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
The last handmade item I was given was a beautiful little dish by a fantastic potter named Adie Smith. It is a gorgeous piece. I was situated just next to Adie at the first fair I ever took part in. I was admiring her work and told her that I would have to come back later on and buy one of her beautiful bowls if my day went well. Well, it did not go well! The market was outdoors and there was a terrific storm which almost brought the gazebo down, all the stock was soaked and the customers ran for cover. However at the end when we were packing up in the pouring rain she came over with a little gift of the bowl I had been admiring. Such a thoughtful thing to do and I treasure it.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
I am busy preparing for some more craft fairs. I will be at Alberton market, Auckland on the 12th November and 10th December, and am really looking forward to getting out and meeting some of my customers.

I have also just got my first stockist, a beautiful little gift store in Browns Bay, so hopefully I will continue to find people and stores who love linen and my products as much as I do.

Prize draw!
Angela has very kindly offered an gorgeous prize for one lucky Felt reader of a stylish large natural linen tote/market bag, valued at $45.00 (see below).

To be in to win this lovely prize, simply leave a comment telling us what you loved about Angela’s story and her creations. The draw will be made on Friday 8 September and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Purchase from Pale Grey Skies here »


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Infinite warmth and style

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Just the thing for chilly mornings – a gorgeous infinity scarf from Marian Smale in upcycled, unused fabric remnants. Soft, cosy and so very chic.

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Purchase from Marian Smale here »


Inspired by nature, crafted with skill: turning for spinners from Whimsy Wood and Wool

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Tedge of Whimsy Wood & Wool has a passion for creating with natural materials. When she’s not working with pieces of wood, wielding a paintbrush or spinning up glorious fibres, you’ll find her in the garden where she and her husband, Arnold, enjoy growing fruit, vegetables and herbs for their kitchen (and their friends).

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What do you make?
I design and turn wooden shawl pins, spindles, nostepinnes, tapestry bobbins, threading hooks and other tools for spinners and fibre crafters. I also dye silk fibre for spinners and felters, blend fibres into spin-able rolags, and sew knitting project bags. In my spare time, I spin yarn, knit shawls, felt bags, sew clothes, embroider pictures, paint and draw, amongst other things.

How did you get into your craft?
I have enjoyed art and crafts since I was a child, studied art at high school and took up spinning in my late teens. I first started woodturning as part of my Visual Art and Design Diploma at EIT Hawkes Bay, back in 2001. My major was in 3D, particularly working with wood and metal, and making quirky furniture. I got involved in the local woodturners club and for two years I learned to turn bowls, boxes and rolling pins. My main aim was to turn items I could decorate. I hit pause on the woodturning for a few years while in France, and concentrated on sewing, painting and embroidery. It was after our return to New Zealand, that we both immersed ourselves in a woodturning club, in Christchurch this time.


Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Yes, I completed the three year Certificate of Woodturning in 2014 with the Christchurch Woodturners Association. Our amazing teachers Noel, Rex and Bruce taught us a wide range of skills, techniques, and decorative effects. They encouraged us to think creatively, work safely and pay attention to detail and finish.

My graduation piece was a set of spindles with a carved and decorated stand. My aim being to include as many learned techniques as I could: spindle and face-plate work, resin, coloured wax finishes, Dremel carving, pyrography, painting and more.

As well as a diploma in art, I have a BSc in Zoology, which has helped me in the way I look at the natural world and how it works, from the humungous to the microscopic, inspiring me in my creative processes.

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Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite turning tool is my small skew chisel, and for carving and detailing I love my Dremel Micro rotary. I prefer making smaller items, though it is still very satisfying to turn a large bowl.

I enjoy the turning itself, as well as the decorative effects such as pyrography and colouring. I can lose myself for hours in these processes. My favourite timbers are Kauri, Ash, Oak and sometimes Rimu.

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing a turned wood piece.
Firstly I plan out the item and draw it to scale. I think about the purpose of the item, and the aesthetics. If it is a functional item, for example a spindle for spinning yarn, it must be balanced in order to work well.

With an entirely new product, I will make some prototypes, experimenting with shapes and measurements, making more drawings as needed. I consider which timbers are best to use for grain pattern, strength, aesthetics, and suitability for decorating. As most of the wood I use is either recycled from buildings or old weaving frames, or wood from tree pruning, my decisions are often dictated in part by the size of the timber available. It is not my aim to produce “factory” products, but to maintain a handcrafted flavour.

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What inspires you?
Lots of things inspire me, from architectural shapes to textures and details in clothing and textiles, but especially patterns and colours in nature.

I am also inspired by the materials I work with, whether it is the feel of wood and the grain pattern, the warmth of wool, the smoothness and sheen of silk fibre. Sometimes it is not a visual stimulus, but a smell, a sound, a texture or a conversation that takes my thoughts off towards something more tangible. I am often inspired and driven too by the need for a new product, a new tool, a new way of making or doing something.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
Yes, I like to work with natural materials as much as possible, whether it is wood, wool, silk, cotton, linen, hemp. I use polishes, dyes, and paints which may not be natural, but I steer clear of anything toxic which may be dangerous in its application or in the end use.

I aim to create pieces which reflect my passion for nature, and hopefully pass that on to the user of the product. I love that people who spin with my spindles, wear my shawl pins or keep things in my bowls tell me how much they appreciate the character of the timber from which they are created.

Describe your creative process:
Inspiration and ideas tend to come in a flood when I am in a creative frame of mind. New thoughts for shapes, decoration, or a new development, a new method of making something, a whole new “invention”. I scribble down sketches and annotations so I don’t forget and can develop the ideas later.

Describe your workspace:
I have several workspaces. The woodturning workshop is by necessity shared with Arnold, and contains a workbench, lathe, and various tools. My sewing nook is at the front of the bedroom; my art desk, storage and bookshelves in the spare room; and spinning, weaving and felting area at the front of the lounge! A bigger house would be useful…

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Five words that describe your mind:
Creative, determined, focussed, humorous, multi-tasking.

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“I love, love, love spinning with my beautiful new spindle!”

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
I don’t recall having a favourite. I do remember at eight years old walking to the library every day to get out the maximum three books, reading them and getting another three the following day. I still love to read.

What are you reading now?
Ken Follett’s World Without End. It has more action than I would usually go for, definitely more violence (I had to skip over one part) but it is an interesting and exciting book. As a bonus, the processes of weaving and dyeing the scarlet cloth are a vital part of the story, as one of the main characters, Caris, experiments with the best way to use madder to produce colour.

A favourite quote:
“Creativity takes courage.” – Henri Matisse.
We can often have creative ideas, but it can take courage to act on them without being afraid of failing, or of criticism. It also takes hard work, dedication and determination. And a lot of chocolate and the occasional cider.

Tell us about your pets:
We have five large goldfish who get grumpy if we don’t feed them, and a worm farm where all the worms are called Ethel and Fred.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
Do something that you have a passion for. Start small, grow steadily, don’t be shy, just get yourself out there. Create good products from good materials, and sell them for a price which reflects that. Believe in yourself, and don’t undervalue your talents or your products.


What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
On holiday in Vietnam last month, we were in the mountain region of Sapa. I bought a length of handwoven hemp fabric from one local H’mong weaver, and a length of handwoven hemp with indigo dyed batik from another. I wanted to buy from the craftspeople themselves, so they get the whole amount of money, and so I have that direct connection with the maker, the region and the country when I use the cloth.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
I am working to replenish my stock of spindles, both suspended and support spindles, plus Kauri shawl pins and tapestry bobbins. I want to build up a stock of wooden yarn bowls, and I have a number of new products up my sleeve. Many other ideas are zooming around in my head or scribbled in my sketchbook, waiting for time to try them out.

I will be trading at the Creative Fibre Area in Homebush on November 19th, and I have applied to be at Summer Woolfeast, to be held at Halswell Centre on November 25th.

I have just become involved in Pay it Forward, a lovely art and craft co-op in Nancy Ave, Mairehau, and will soon add some turned bowls to my shawl pins there. I also have shawl pins at Wool Yarn Fibre, the Creative Fibre shop at the Tannery in Woolston, and at my brother-in-law’s gallery Alfred Memelink Artspace on the Petone Esplanade. I have plans to add other products to these places as soon as I can, and of course to have a wider range of products in my online Felt store.

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Prize draw!
Tedge has very kindly offered a great prize for one lucky Felt reader of a Whimsy spindle turned from recycled Kauri, with a hand-formed brass hook (see above). The spindle weighs 22g and the whorl has a diameter of 52mm. Perfect for spinning a fairly fine yarn, this little spindle spins smooth and fast. So that you have some fibre to spin, it will be accompanied by a pack of corriedale rolags with a dash of silk and sparkle. Total value $49 includes postage within New Zealand.

To be in to win this awesome combo, simply leave a comment telling us (a) what you like about Tedge’s products and (b) what yarn crafts you enjoy, or would like to try next! The draw will be made on Friday 28 July and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Purchase from Whimsy Wood & Wool now »


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Sustainable fashion at your fingertips

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Feeling those frosty mornings? We sure are, so we’re super stoked to be stocking these sustainable Glovely merino gloves from Linlin.

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Glovely gloves are made from small pieces of scrap merino left over from larger clothing items, saving on waste and providing a fabulous range of colour and print combinations.


Secure your favourite Glovely gloves now »


Practical fashion from November House

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

We love these fabric cord wraps for earphones, fresh from November House. They’re a cute solution to keeping your earphones untangled and neat when not in use, and can also be used to organise charger cords for small electronics. Awesome!

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See more from November House here »


Beanie looking for a warm hat?

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Brrrr! Winter’s definitely arrived. Luckily, talented yarnster Cornflake Purl is here to save the day with a great range of stylish and snuggly beanies to keep your noggin warm. Get yours today!


Brrrr! Got your winter warmers sorted?

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

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Purchase gloves and arm warmers here »


Heirloom bridal accessories from Blossom Road

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017

Planning a wedding? Blossom Road make stunning bridal hair pieces and accessories, using only the finest of materials, gathered from all across the globe.

Designed to last, Blossom Road’s creations are true heirloom quality pieces that will last for generations.

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See more from Blossom Road here »


Saisei: the beauty of vintage kimono, reborn

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Saisei means “reborn” in Japanese, and it’s a name which perfectly reflects Wellington maker Hana Yoshida’s work. Hana’s beautiful clothing and accessories were born from her grandmother’s collection of vintage kimono and they continue today with the vintage kimono and fabric she still sources from Japan. Hana says: “When I unpick kimono, I think of somebody in Japan who spent days to hand sew the kimono for her loved ones. I think of someone who wore it with much care and love.”

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What do you make?
I upcycle and repurpose vintage Japanese kimono fabrics into modern and stylish clothing and accessories.

How did you get into your craft?
I am originally from Japan. When I went back to Japan last year, my mum mentioned loads of kimono that were left in my grandmother’s wardrobes. They had been there for decades since my grandmother passed away. As a lot of women did in the old days, she used to hand sew kimono for her whole family. She was a very good seamstress, so that often kimono retailers asked her to make kimono for their clients when they received custom made orders. She also taught students how to hand sew kimono at her home. My father still remembers her students coming to their house to learn kimono making. I was blown away by the beauty of the craftsmanship and fabric itself and decided to bring some back to New Zealand.

I have been always into making stuff myself. When I was kid, I used to knit a lot of things and I learnt basic sewing skills at my university. My earliest memory of recycling is making a bag out of my old jeans. So when I got my grandmother’s kimono, I started making some scarves and cushion covers with them. This is how it all started last year. Now I used up all of my grandmother’s silk, so I purchase fabric in Japan and get it shipped to New Zealand.

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No, except for at my university when I learnt basic skills as part of my Education/Teaching course. I’m self taught, so learnt a lot by trial and error! I also take private lessons from professionals.

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Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
My favourite material is pre-loved and antique kimono silk. It’s getting rarer because most modern Japanese people have stopped wearing traditional kimono except for special ceremonies or events. So traditional kimono hand-crafting is in decline and there are fewer people who can pass on the techniques of crafting and dyeing kimono to the next generation.

Aizome boro cotton is also special to me. “Boro” means patched. In the old days, when the fabric was damaged, people didn’t throw it away. They patched the damaged area and kept on using it for a long time. So the cotton has a huge amount of character and really interesting textures. Nowadays, these textiles are loved and highly regarded by many all around the world.

My favourite process is creating the right patterns. It takes a long time and uses a lot of paper and sample fabrics. I repeat amending the patterns until I make the right ones. It is a long process, but really satisfying in the end.

Tell us about the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces
I purchase vintage kimono fabric from Japan. Some are actual pre-worn kimono and some are vintage kimono silks that are in bolts and never sewn or worn before.

The sewn kimono are unpicked (this can take around four hours) before being hand washed. Then they are dried in the shade and ironed gently. This is done before making anything. To make my capes, I make outer wool fabric and linings separately. The vintage kimono silk is used exclusively to make the linings of the capes. Because of the width of the silk (usually around 36cm), I cut up the silk into 8-9 pieces and sew them together to make one lining. Then darts and a collar are made. Finally I sew the lining, the outer wool and collar together.

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What inspires you?
Tattoo arts, 50s-70s vintage fashion.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
I would like more people to enjoy the beauty and craftsmanship of kimono fabric in their daily life.

Tell us about your pets:
We have a cat called Rika. We got her from the Cat’s Protection League as a kitten back in 2002, so she’s an old cat now. We have two little kids so Rika gets less attention than she used to, however when the kids are in bed she likes to sit on my lap and fall asleep.

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
A flowering branch necklace on Felt from a maker in Nelson. This pendant top was about 6cm and looked just like plum flowers. I liked the oriental feel to it. I wear it on my market days.

What’s in store for the rest of 2017?
There will be more capes and reversible silk cardigans. I would like to add dresses as well, but I will see. Also men’s organic cotton T-shirts with Aizome cotton pockets.


Hana will be holding a stall at Wellington Underground Market on Saturday 1 April, from 10am to 4pm. This is one of only a handful of markets that Hana will do this year, and it’s a good opportunity to see and try on her garments. Hana will also have sample fabrics on the day, so you can choose fabrics for you own special cape or cardigan.

Hana has also very generously offered a prize for one lucky Felt reader of this lovely autumnal scarf. This vibrant silk scarf with an orange leaf pattern, measuring 17cm x 180cm, was made with 100% vintage Japanese kimono silk. The silk was hand woven and hand printed in Kyoto, Japan.


To be in to win this gorgeous handcrafted prize, simply leave a comment telling us what appeals to you about Hana’s story and her reborn creations. The draw will be made on Friday 7 April and is open to New Zealand residents only.


Explore Hana Yoshida’s beautiful work on Felt »


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The ancient art of shibori

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Woman's peach shibori scarf by Ruru Textiles

Not only is this scarf completely gorgeous, it also has a fascinating story, which all good accessories should. Rosemary of Ruru Textiles in Rotorua dyes her textiles using the ancient Japanese art (as far back as the 8th century!) of shibori, a range of techniques that produce more or less intricate designs on fabric. Isn’t it a stunning effect?