Thursday 19 June 2014

For the love of Sylko

I love Sylko cottons. I love their exquisite colours. I love the names such as Dark Pimpernel and Light Petunia. They make sewing feel somehow glamourous.

Buying a reel is like choosing sweets. Bright or faded, golden or pale, earthy or vivid.

I love the wooden reels, the gold detailing on the red, white and blue top label. The simplicity of the blue fonts on white background on the bottom.

They evoke a nostalgia of looking in granny's sewing box. Of hours spent sorting them into favourite colour groups.

They have become an essential part of display in the shop. Like adding a pair of earrings or the right coloured shoes to an outfit.

The mercerised cotton thread was produced by John Dewhurst and Sons from the 1820's from their mill in Scalegill Mill, in Kirkby Malham.

I will always buy a reel when I see them (or 52 as I did this week) as the wooden reels are not produced anymore.  If I was marooned on a desert island and was allowed one item of  haberdashery? A box of sylko threads please. This is one haberdashery design classic definitely worth keeping.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

A Bazaar world of colour

I never realised how important colour is until I walked into one of Bazaar's shows. Joanna Hall, the creative force behind the business, has spent the last twenty plus years travelling to India to source and make beautiful things. She journeys into the Rajasthani desert, to villages where she deals directly with the locals and from her base in Pushkar traverses great distances to Delhi,  to Jaipur, to Orissa and further afield to Nepal.

Her showcase events which she holds throughout the summer are held in stunning locations. These pictures were taken at the 15th century chapel barn at the Pilsdon in Malling community. 

Her other shows include the 'Summer Spectacular' in the great barn at The Plough in Hildenborough and rounding off with a show in marquees at The Walled Nursery in Hawkhurst (see details below).

Find mirrored embroidery and birds on strings….

patchworked embroideries and saris of brocade…...

From pots of shell buttons and copper pots, to wooden beads and beaded bracelets….

to scarves of many hues and colours, kantha stitched…...

Uncover hand-crafted silver jewellery with precious and semi-precious stones….

and hand stitched block printed cotton throws and bags of many colours and textures...

handmade papers, flocked and foiled and old embroidery laced with golden threads.

These are show stopping events of such splendour that you really have to see it for yourself. The pictures here only capture small details of the whole.

Lengths of vintage sari silk billow from the rafters. Antique trim glimmers with sequins. Exquisite pieces of embroidery are patched together to form elephants and butterflies.

For those of you who are textile lovers, love the exotic or just need a dose of colour or retail therapy then this is the place for you and your friends.  Jo can tell you an awful lot about the history of the textiles that she sells and the processes that are still in production today such as wood block printing.

How wonderful that she has brought the colour of India back to England and that we can immerse ourselves in its creative traditions and come away appreciating the work and skill that goes into the making of these colourful creations.

Bazaar show dates

Summer Chapel Show in West Malling - on until Sun 8th June 10.00am-5.00pm
Address: The Pilsdon at Malling Community, 27 Water Lane, West Malling, Kent ME19 6HH

Bazaar Summer Spectacular - Fri 20th June - Sun 29th June (closed Mon 23rd) 10.30am-7.00pm
Address: The Great Barn, The Plough, Powder Mill Lane, Hildenborough, Kent, TN11 9AJ

Bazaar at The Walled Nursery - Fri 22nd Aug - Mon 25th Aug 10.00am -5.30pm

Address : Water Lane, Hawkhurst, Kent, TN18 5DH

For more details on Bazaar visit

Friday 2 May 2014

Return of the Rustic Viking

I have just come back from Norway. I was hoping to write a blog post about all the folk textiles and art but it was Easter and most of the museums were shut. They like a holiday in Norway. What I found instead was the real inspiration behind it all. The landscape.

I went with an open mind and expected to see more than my fair share of Scandi chic, all pale and interesting. But to my great surprise I stumbled upon more of a rustic charm and earthiness in its design that really grabbed me. 

When you venture into nature there, which is often a short walk from wherever you are, you enter what can only be described as 'big country'. The panoramic vistas of show stopping splendour literally take your breath away. One moment you are high on a mountain plateau and next you descend into the deep gorges that form the fjords. The colours are an artists palette laid bare. The textures are nature at its best.

When you have all that as your inspiration you have to come up with something that matches it. Enter the design and construction of the medieval Stavkirche (stave church). I have never come across anything quite like them on my travels. The outside of these fairytale churches look as if the timbers have been scorched and then layered with bitumen, which helps to preserve them against the extreme Norse winters and hot summers. Magical monuments that appear in an already dramatic landscape. If you want to get a sense of Viking then these are the landlocked equivalent of a ship floating on the landscape. They are pagoda like, decorated with shingles, intricate carvings and vine entwined dragons. 

I will definitely go back. Maybe next time I will make it to the Folk museum in Oslo, but then and again maybe I'll just get lost in nature, again.