Craft Scotland, Edinburgh Summer Show

You don’t need me to point out how many events are on just now in the Edinburgh Fringe and Edinburgh International Festival – but I will anyway – over 30,000 Fringe performances alone – it’s the biggest arts festival in the world.  And in Venue 205, Craft Scotland occupies the 2nd floor of White Stuff ,89 George Street, Edinburgh until Sunday 28th August 2016.

IMG_0699

Work by Clod & Pebble, Hilary Grant Knitwear, Warped Textiles, Clare Dawdry.

Thirty one Scottish makers – potters, textile designers, jewellers and furniture makers – were selected to be part of this years Summer Show, unifiedspace being one of them. So I took the opportunity of launching some brand new designs for scarves and ties, discussed in more detail in this interview.

Breton Signal

‘Breton Signal’ 100% Irish Linen Tie & Pocket Square.

I’ve added 100% Irish Linen ties to the range. I’m still producing the original Fife linen union ties (available from Urban Reivers Festival Shop on George Street) but I’ve been asked for slightly more formal ties and the finer texture of the Irish linen achieves a fairly polished look – don’t worry, the ties are not going all corporate in nature, the prints are anything but!

There are 100% silk scarves in the same print – just in case you want to go out ‘matching’?! I’ve also added some gender neutral skinny scarves/cravats, silk squares and gauzy wool and cashmere blends for the Autumn.

scarf Night Hatching 3

‘Night Hatching’ 100% Silk Scarf

Love You, designed by Niki Fulton

‘Love You’ Wool & Cashmere blend scarf

If you would like to hear a little more behind the scenes chat at unifiedspace HQ, Creative Edinburgh kindly arranged for filmmaker David P Scott to shoot this short vimeo.

You might hear in the film I mention a new bespoke service. More about that soon but essentially, it’s about commissioning your own print/pattern – one which reflects your story, your colours, your life – a modern portrait if you like, and one that can be worn.

Also, lots happening next week too so another post will follow very soon regarding the run up to the Paisley 2021 City of Culture bid.

Meanwhile, enjoy the final week of the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe and please pop into the Craft Scotland Edinburgh Summer Show if you can – there’s a special late night opening this Thursday 25th August and I believe even some goodie bags are to be had!

 

 

The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market

If you are in Edinburgh this weekend it would be great to see you at The Fruitmarket Gallery Design Market which will be running from Friday 10th, (Preview 5-9pm) Saturday 11th, 10am-6pm & Sunday 12th, 10am-5pm. Around 40 independent makers and designers will be showing and selling their work.

silk scarf

‘Love You’ Silk Scarf

 

I’ve been experimenting with some new prints and will be assessing which designs to take forward to the Craft Scotland Summer Show during the  Edinburgh Fringe Festival so I will have several promotions on over the weekend to hopefully encourage feedback.

silk scarf

‘Eden’ Silk Scarf

Most designers bring out a cohesive ‘collection’ each season but because of the way I work, my prints are fairly discordant – you have been warned!

The way it works for me, perhaps you are the same (please let me know, I’m really interested) is that when I am least expecting it (usually when I am about to drop off to sleep), a fully formed image falls into my mind. The next day I go about recreating this image – an image that seemed to appear from nowhere. The ‘mysterious’ image however, can easily be traced back directly to an experience. So as we all have many experiences in life, the ‘pot’ to draw from is pretty extensive (hence the diverse prints). So that’s why, for me anyway, it’s imperative to get out as much as possible and explore because every time I do, my mind is busy in the background drawing from the experience and creating the next print.

So that’s the process or perhaps an explanation.

silk scarf

‘Breton Signal’ Silk Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford

 

The prints are unisex (can a pattern be gender specific anyway?!) so you will see prints on both silk scarves and on linen neck ties.

linen tie

‘Eden’ Linen Tie

I will also be bringing a new product – long wool and cashmere open weave scarves – only a few – so if you would like one, please be quick.

wool scarf

‘Fennel Tangle’ Wool & Cashmere Scarf. Photo by Abi Radford.

Another new product is the wool ‘Charger Pouch’. Ok, yes, I know, that’s a bit specific and they can be used for other purposes too – coins, lens caps, lipstick, jewellery bag – but I find them especially useful while travelling. Having a brightly coloured soft wool pouch to pack my phone charger in (I can’t be the only one who fuddles about in my bag searching for said charger, can I?) is of great comfort. They are designed for the minimalist at heart who craves a block of tactile colour and has a very guilty secret pleasure (sssh, I won’t spill the beans on you but they have a patterned lining – linen off cuts from the ties to be precise, we don’t like to waste at unifiedspace).

wool and linen pouches

Wool (and linen) Charger Pouches

So new prints, new products and many other designers all housed in the Fruitmarket Gallery which of course is also home to Milk Cafe . It would be great to see you this weekend! (10th – 12th June 2016)

If you have a sec, can you tell me what your favourite colour to wear is please?

 

 

 

Relaxing With a Felt Pen

A single pen has been the catalyst to a series of new designs. It all happened a few months ago while walking down Queens Street in Glasgow. pen drawing

I stopped at a shop window full of paper and carefully stacked pens and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils wafted towards me – irresistible.

Pencil Sharpens

I had stumbled across Cass Art , a shop similar in feel to an Apple store, but instead of selling tech, it’s full of art materials. I’m quite sure it could coax anyone into becoming artistically inclined.

At this point I must tell you I am a total sucker for felt pens. I adore coloured pencils too (so long as they are waxy  – Caran D’Ashe  being my favourite). I could literally spend hours choosing a unison pastel from a drawer (in that choosing a patisserie sort of way) but there is something about felt pens that strikes straight to my core. It’s a childhood thing. I’m sure it will be the same for many of you.

You probably know that felt pens were invented in the 1960’s by Yukio Horie. He worked for the Tokyo Stationary Company at the time but went on to set up his own company Pentel – as in a ‘pen can tell a story’. I feel so indebted to this man and his invention – can you imagine a childhood without felt pens? I would like to go to Tokyo one day and buy a Pentel right there in Pentel HQ.

I had a treasured pack of 5 – blue, green, red, yellow and black. My friend however had a long transparent floppy case with a white popper stud. It contained 24 heart stopping colours. She was good at sharing. Of course we had our favourite well used colours and when they ran dry, we would spit on their tips to squeeze a little more ‘juice’ from them. When that failed, we would pull them apart and squeeze the cuboid felty innards to coax some more fabulous colour out onto our drawings. Inevitably our afternoons ended with us sporting gaudy coloured lips and fingers. Knowing now what chemicals these early pens contained, it’s a miracle we are both still here. Oddly enough the only parental instruction I recall was not to get the pen on my friends white round dining table, felt pen lips apparently no big deal…

I could go on for pages about felt pens and childhood – the joy of putting them away and in which order to slot them on their plastic cradles, the design of the lids (which for no particular reason I suctioned onto the end of my tongue rather a lot) and the ones that came with artificial smells like apple and bubble gum, again, rather a worry with hindsight:/

Anyway, fast forward 2016.

I bought a Tombow  pen and armed with a lot of blank paper, I literally ‘let go’ of any plans and allowed the pen tell a story. That’s harder than you think by the way. I asked a friend to do the same and she said she felt shy and inhibited and the pen bumped and crashed in a stumbly line and stopped. I however found the exercise liberating (I was alone, that helps) and couldn’t stop making lines. It fascinated me watching what shapes were forming in front of my eyes. I was producing nice shapes without any conscious thought. My hand had its own mind and I was the audience. I got through a lot of paper that week.

Have you heard of the stress busting exercise of going to an empty Scottish Glen (or any other vast empty space) and shouting at the top of your voice? Just allowing yourself to make whatever noise you want but as loud as possible? That’s pretty hard too – it really takes courage, believe me. Well, my pen drawings gave me a similar sensation. It’s all about letting go. But lucky for me, I found the shapes rather pleasing and after working on them more cognitively, I have created a new set of designs which will soon appear as silk scarves – no spoilers, I will show you them when they are finished🙂

Do you have felt pen memories? 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes From Premiere Vision, Paris

Having immersed myself in the vast textile trade show, Premiere Vision last week, I can report back on some key trends – but without images – photography is strictly forbidden (taking notes is not even allowed near the stands – stands being white pens with frustratingly high walls with a humid murmur leaking out from within, akin to a set from a Margaret Attwood novel) as the textiles and designs being sold are for 2017 collections and are therefore not even launched.

Red

If colour trend forecasting leaves you cold and you put it on par with reading ones horoscope, you just need to attend a seminar at a trade fair and you will find a frenzied atmosphere, a room bursting at the seams with the worlds top decision makers in fashion and interiors – as we know colour can kill or cure a business so they need time to gear up their production to get their pieces out in time to feed our every whim.

Of course there are several trend ‘stories’ which gives a platform for a variety of colours to shine but they were mostly underpinned by a juicy, meaty red. Red, we are told is in gutsy opposition to our move towards a plant based diet (although I’m sure the food writers have this covered by giving us lots of other juicy reds from pomegranates to beetroots 😉) It’s quite an impertinent colour trend really as it celebrates  fake shiny food, artificial substances, think plastic sushi cartons, rubber cups, and bright synthetic palettes. The colours may seem a touch violent and frantic, but it works because only two or a max of three are used together.

The theme is really all about contrast, sweet and sour, rough with smooth, futuristic mashed with antique. It is designed to shock, invoke a reaction, look odd and unbalanced. In fact the stranger the better. Individualism is key. Wonky prevails.

As for patterns, designs are asymmetric, off balance, and shaky. Patterns are ‘placed’ rather than repeated and ‘colouring in’ is imperfect. Registration is ‘off’. Trusty old stripes are back (and so is gingham) but think huge, spectacular and sometimes flawed. No subtleties, no mush, just dynamism.

But then I look at my notepad and see I have written ‘epidermal pales’ and ‘angel skins’, ‘palpable paleness’ with ‘chalky finish’, ‘grating simplicity’ and ‘vapours of powdery, sage, ash and clover’ …mmm, perhaps not all red then…but then I did mention contrasts 😗

So like anything, frame your colour and design choices around the story of its creation, that’s what is important, it’s your individualism that gives your designs integrity and provenance – we all like a good story after all, and trend forecasters are brilliant at doing just that.

 

Social Marketing, Micro Businesses and My Confession

Ever heard of Warren Knight? If you have, you are probably succeeding with your social marketing goals and have an efficient and regular system in place to get messages out across numerous platforms in order to grow your brand or product.

I, on the other hand hadn’t come across this social media speaker, author and trainer until I attended one of his seminars at Top Drawer in London yesterday. But that’s not surprising as I am fully aware that my social marketing falls woefully under most radars. I am also acutely aware that I need to improve things on this front but unfortunately fall into the camp of – and this is where it feels like a horrible confession, apart from instagram , I really don’t enjoy taking part, in fact I will go one step further and say it very often makes me feel sad. There, I said it, a faux pas extraordinaire, just like that. Warren will not approve.

However, one thing I am not doing here is knocking it. I’m not that dim, I know it works supremely well, and that many millions of people learn fantastic things, meet like minded people and indeed one of my closest friends is a meteoric star on it. Plus it’s probably near impossible to succeed with a product without it. All I am saying is that I can’t get fully into it. But I do try.

So the very engaging and focused Warren managed to tap into my guilty secret and instead of letting it fester, today I am facing it head on by allowing myself to confess, I’m not that good at it but at least I’m not in denial, surely in that case I’m firmly on the road to recovery?

Then as if by magic, Craft Scotland who had kindly invited me on this ‘Go and See’ trip to London introduced me to Piyush Suri. Piyush is one of these enviable people who has that ‘tigger bounce’ (a term used in an article in yesterdays Evening Standard about people who simply have great mitochondrion and are naturally energetic powerhouses – it went on to suggest ways to improve your own ‘tigger bounce’) and apart from directing massive events like Top Drawer, also has his own homewares brand Akin and Suri , textile company and is Director of Hand Made in Britain . On meeting Piyush, you quickly learn that he must have teams. People to help grow his business. It’s difficult for micro businesses to imagine employing staff but until you understand your own strengths (and weaknesses) and realise that you may need to employ others (and indeed should) with a different skill set, it’s not really possible to grow properly.

Shortly afterwards, I met a jeweller and she told me that she didn’t enjoy social marketing either but was savvy enough to know how crucial it was for her company. So she employs someone for a few hours a week to do her social marketing for her. This has meant she can concentrate on what she is good at – making fabulous jewellery.

So this is a long way of saying, make sure you have great social marketing (thanks Warren for underlining this for me and I hope you are pleased that I’m using plenty of links😉 ) but if you do find it chips away at you or destroys your creativity then don’t bother doing it because if you aren’t fully engaged it’s actually a bit of a waste of time.  It’s like anything, if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well . So try and find a way of delegating, it will probably help your business grow. As much as we all try we can’t do everything all of the time – although I should add that according to Warren one weeks worth of effective, timed, social marketing can actually be achieved with one hours work…but he didn’t tell us how to do that, I guess it’s in his book…

However, in the meantime, you can still find me dabbling on TwitterFacebook  Pinterest and Instagram ;)

Do you enjoy taking part in social media? How much time do you spend on it? 

…I can’t have a post without some images so here are some pictures (no filters) of the amazing winter sky we have had recently taken from my kitchen window. And on that note, I’m off to do something I love, design some textile prints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Events!

I notice a nice clean ‘1’ on my calendar today so I think now is the time for a Christmas Events round up.

This Saturday 5th of December, I am delighted that unifiedspace will be part of Dundee Contemporary Arts Christmas Market, ‘Crafted’ DCA

“This special event brings together over 30 specially selected makers from across Scotland presenting some of the best contemporary, independent jewellery, ceramics, textiles, illustration, print and homeware” #DCACrafted

The full range of unifiedspace linen ties are also available from the brilliant Dovecot Studios Shop – an inspiring venue where you can take in an exhibition, view rug and tapestry tufters at work  – and make sure to time your visit near lunch or coffee time as the cafe is great!

Fennel Tangle Linen Tie

Fennel Tangle Linen Tie

Or if you are shopping in Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal The Facility , stock all the ties, scarfs and mugs and have a whole host of independent brands on display on their up cycled shop fittings.

Eclipse Scarf

Eclipse Print on Silk

All products are stocked at Whosit & Whatsit , Newcastle- Upon -Tyne a real treasure trove of a shop selling items from independent designers from across Britain. Or if you are looking for a farm shop to do your Christmas shopping in, why not visit Cross Lanes Organic Farm in County Durham – a farm shop with a scrumptious restaurant housed in an award winning building complete with a grassy roof – needless to say they stock unifiedspace’s grassy range :) as does the beautiful Daisy Cheynes in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge.

 

Grassy Tea towels Photo by Food To Glow

Grassy Tea towels Photo by Food To Glow

Grassy Mug

Grassy Mug

Or perhaps you are looking for a good excuse to visit the French Alps in December? If so, Montbeliard’s famous Christmas Market has invited Scotland to be its ‘guest of honour’ and I will be there next week with the fabulous Rushworth and her brilliant (and rather addictive) range of wool garments, designed and made in Scotland.

DSCF3398

My trusty Rushworth bobble hat will be going to the Alps with me

However, if you prefer shopping online, please feel free to pop by my etsy shop or visit the glamorous Wear Eponymous (this comes with a warning though… there are a lot of beautiful products on that site) and your shopping will be delivered to your door.

There are of course, I am very happy to say, many great independent shops springing up across the UK and they are fundamental in supporting independent designers and makers like myself. Thank you indies, your hard work is noticed and appreciated and you are making our towns and cities far more interesting to shop in again.

Do you have a favourite independent shop for Christmas shopping?

Norway, the Environment and Making Things Last

Norway has the same size of population as Scotland (yes, we know, we keep being told this fact), but with five times as much space and a land where you could expect to live 5 years longer and pay 6% more tax. So I traveled 4◦ North to find out more. And in doing so, I returned to Edinburgh with a reinforced understanding of the importance of considered design and making things last.

Boat Building, Alesund, Norway

Boat Building, Alesund, Norway, 2015

9th Century Viking Ship

9th Century Viking Ship

Visit the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo and you will be struck by the elegance of the 9th Century ships but possibly even more stunned by the fact that they are so well preserved. Built almost entirely from oak and with exquisite detailing, they have certainly stood the test of time. Visit the Art Nouveau town of Alesund on the West coast (Noway’s most important fishing harbour) and the skill continues –  you can spot timber ships being meticulously crafted with a view to lasting another few centuries.

Looking into the Opera and Ballet House From the Roof

Looking into the Opera and Ballet House From the Roof

I’m no architect but it doesn’t take an expert to see that the Norwegians have a healthy appetite for enterprising buildings – take the firm Snohetta , responsible for the stunning wild reindeer pavilion on the outskirts of the Dovrefjell National Park and the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet home in Oslo. The Opera house looks like an iceberg floating on the waterfront and actively entices and encourages you to walk over the structure, even on the roof where you get tantalising glimpses of activity in the building under your feet. It’s not an inanimate public building plonked down, the structure is like a new urban walkway, an adult climbing frame. It’s engaging, connects with the public and is fun.

Walking on the Roof of The Opera and Ballet House, Oslo

Walking on the Roof of The Opera and Ballet House, Oslo

Looking to the Business Sector from the Roof of the Opera House, Oslo

Looking to the Business Sector from the Roof of the Opera House, Oslo

Walk around the suburbs in Oslo and you will see nestled in amongst early twentieth century homes, thoughtful new school buildings. Can you imagine the positive long term impact it will have on the kids being immersed in such considered buildings. They are imaginative buildings – I’m sure if you asked the kids from the school pictured below to draw a house, they will come up with many ideas – not just the classic square with a triangle roof.

A Timber School, Oslo

A Timber School, Oslo

Older Properties in the Suburbs, Oslo

Older Properties in the Suburbs, Oslo

I have to confess that it was while sitting in the cinema in Edinburgh that I decided to visit Norway. I was watching the 2015 film, Ex Machina, and knew as soon as I saw the landscape and architecture in the film that I had to get to wherever it was set at some point in my life. As soon as I was home I googled the film set and found it was filmed in the Juvet Landscape Hotel about a two hour drive East from Alesund.

Phoning the Juvet just intrigued me even more. The super polite but no nonsense owner, Knut, said, “you shall be in a bird box, supper is at 8 o clock in the barn and there is a sauna, but don’t expect cucumber, this is not a spa” …

I don’t want tell you too much about the Juvet, all I can say is go if you can. Everything about it is remarkable and you will meet remarkable people who you will have enriching and fascinating conversations with. The hotel in no way spoils the stunning environment, you can barely see it and once immersed in your bird box, you are utterly dwarfed by nature, it’s the ultimate tonic to a fast machine driven life. Knut told me the area was called ‘the land of the low shoulders’ and he’s right. You leave the place with your shoulders where they should be i.e not wrapped round your ears!

A Room at the Juvet Landscape Hotel

A Room at the Juvet Landscape Hotel

supper in the barn

Supper in the barn – foraged, preserved and respected food

Juvet Landscape Hotel

Juvet Landscape Hotel

And I don’t suppose I need to tell you that the walking here is incredible – they even have huts dotted around the mountains equivalent to the Scottish bothy.

Hillwalking in Norway

Hillwalking in Norway

This post is too long already so I will follow it with another Norwegian post next time but what I was meaning to say was that everywhere I travelled, I noticed people were outside a lot – this I think is the crux. The cafes had blankets so you could sit outdoors, the homes had outdoor spaces, terraces, balconies, the food we were served was grown or caught in front of us, the buildings, both old and new were imaginative and reflected the all important environment. Everything I saw seemed to be high quality and making use of local materials. I know it’s a wealthy county but things were built to last and crucially I sensed that there was still a real connection to the environment and outside world, a real respect for it. This is a country where jumpers suitable for polar conditions are made and still passed down the generations because they don’t fall apart, they last. Some places as we all know have lost this connection in favour of buy cheap and the throw away.

However, I really think this ethos is returning, I certainly see it here in Scotland. People are starting to look again for considered purchases and I’m meeting more and more makers and designers confident in selling their higher priced quality and ethical products. I think we are all slowly realising we don’t need quite as much stuff and are thinking more carefully about what we do buy. Certainly more and more people are taking to the hills in their free time and I’m sure it’s that connection to the great outdoors that is key to the way we think and behave.

 So what do you think? Are you more careful about what you buy and from whom? Do you feel connected to the environment?

I know and understand I’m very fortunate to be able to make these choices and to visit beautiful places but if reconnecting to the great outdoors is key to a higher quality of life for all, that’s got to be a good thing and it’s a resource we all have on our doorsteps.

London Design Festival 2015

London Design Festival is such a big event and everyone who visits is bound to come away with their own highlights – here are some impressions I gathered and some pieces that caught my eye as I whizzed round 100% DesignDesign JunctionDesigners BlockTentShoreditch Design Triangle and of course the LDF at the V&A and Somerset House.

Faye Toogood's Cloakroom installation at the V&A

Faye Toogood’s Cloakroom installation at the V&A

One advantage of covering so many shows at top speed is that you get a sense of emerging trends and this year there seemed to be many crafted elements to the shows, for example metal elements were hammered and beaten (copper and brass still being prominent), there were plenty of hand woven textiles (some designers even had their looms with them) and timber was often hand turned. Digitally printed textiles also had a crafted vibe as many were hand painted designs which had been scanned and printed. The ceramics too felt really organic and I particularly enjoyed the pots at the Geffrye Museum where the potters were on hand to speak about their work. I came away thinking of individual designers and their processes rather than bigger manufactures. The festival really captured our desires of wanting authentic ethical artistic pieces rather than anonymous mass manufactured work.

Textiles by Jonna Saarinen

Textiles by Jonna Saarinen

Loom Demo at Tent London

Loom Demo at Tent

Tactile soft surfaces at 100% Design

Tactile soft surfaces at 100% Design

For me, the highlight was an exhibition at Designers Block called The Secret Life of the Pencil‘ a collaborative project by industrial designer Alex Hammond, and photographer Mike Tinney. They photographed pencils belonging to successful designers, writers, and architects such as Philippe Starck, Lord Norman Foster, Anish Kapoor, John Pawson, Dame Zandra Rhodes and closely photographed their humble pencils which actually told a lot amount about their owners. It was staggering how easy it was to guess which pencil belonged to whom. It certainly made me look at my own pencil in a new light.. normally a coloured one.

Tom Dixon's pencil

Tom Dixon’s pencil

Anish Kapoor's pencil

Anish Kapoor’s pencil

John Pawson's pencil

John Pawson’s pencil

James Dyson's pencil

James Dyson’s pencil

But the exhibit that I continue to think about is Connected by Pattern at Somerset House. A room filled with 3D monochromatic patterns which you were invited to immerse yourself in after putting on a patterned poncho hanging by the entrance of the room. Every house should have a room like this! You become instantly lost in a creative world of pattern, it was liberating, extremely fun and seemed to take you back into the fantastical mind set of a child. Brilliant.

Connected by Pattern

Connected by Pattern

It was also refreshing seeing the introduction of Asian design this year. China had a big stand at 100% Design and their accessories in particular were eye catching in their simplicity. The Korean displays at Tent were also stunning, ‘simple, calm, subtle‘ was their mantra and based on traditional Korean craft, Kim Soo Young + Cho Ki Sang’s, brass tableware was dreamy and current.

Kim Soo Young + Cho Ki Sang, Brass Tableware

Kim Soo Young + Cho Ki Sang, Brass Tableware

There is so much more I could tell you about, not least the sublime Pip McCormac chocolate brownies laced with turkish delight and edible flowers that he made for Lee Broom’s The Flower Shop Installation in Shoreditch or being turfed out of the The Shard on the 32nd floor for wearing trainers (a blessing actually as the cacao cocktails in Borough Market were a much better choice😉

Lee Broom Store

Lee Broom Store

Lee Broom's The Flower Shop' Installation

Lee Broom’s The Flower Shop’ Installation

Pip McCormac's , The Herb and Flower Cook Book

Pip McCormac’s , The Herb and Flower Cook Book

However, this post is long enough but if you would like to see more snaps, I’ve posted some on instagram.

Thank you London Design Festival , that was the best one I’ve attended and I’m already looking forward to 2016!

Now Stocked by Wear Eponymous

Just a quick post today to announce the great news that the full collection of linen ties are now being stocked by Wear Eponymous .

Wear Eponymous

Wear Eponymous brings,

“the cream of current design talent UK wide and beyond. This isn’t the place for fast fashion or disposable purchases, this is the destination for investment pieces, stand-out accessories and unique treats”

Take a look through their site if you are looking for ethically produced independent brands and if you are quick they are currently running a great competition to win a beautiful leather VVA handbag designed by Sarah Haran.

Next post on recent travels to Norway and the London Design Festival coming shortly…

The Journey of a Linen Tie

The Slow Food Movement has been an inspiration to many and knowing that we have superb textile mills in Scotland I was very keen to produce a product with similar credentials. Scroll down and see the faces behind the various stages of production of my new range of linen ties.

Twenty nine miles from Edinburgh lies a bespoke weavers, Peter Greig, which has been weaving from the same site since 1825. 

Stacking the Flax.

Stacking the Flax. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Flax which is used in the production of linen used to be grown in Scotland and Ireland but as Angus Nicoll, Managing Director of Peter Greig explains, our climate is not as well suited as the Benelux countries.

“All the retting that used to happen in Scotland and Ireland was Water retted rather than the standard Dew Retting that is now the norm in the Benelux Countries. The problem with the Scottish and Irish climate is that through July and August we cannot rely on clear skies and warm weather. The climate in Holland, Belgium and France is far more reliable and so the flax straw can be turned daily in the fields and the Dew rets (rots) the straw off the outside of the plant as it is damp in the morning then dried during the day. With our inclement weather the rain comes solidly through all of July and August and the whole plant never dries in the field and as a result the whole plant goes black and rots”

So, the flax is now grown and spun into yarn in the drier European countries before being prepared and woven at Peter Greigs.

Linseed Pods. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Linseed Pods.
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

 

Warping the Yarn Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Warping the Yarn
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving in Progress. Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving in Progress.
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Weaving the Flax

Weaving the Flax

Inspecting the Cloth Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

Inspecting the Cloth
Photo kindly supplied by Peter Greig

And meanwhile, I design the patterns for printing onto the linen from my studio in Edinburgh

Dreaming up my next textile design

Dreaming up my next textile design

Then the plain linen is delivered to sisters Solii and Zoe at BeFabBeCreative, a printing bureau in Edinburgh where they print my designs onto the Fife linen.

Solii Brodie at BeFabBeCreative

Solii Brodie at BeFabBeCreative

From here, I take the printed cloth to Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective, Edinburgh who stitches the cloth into ties. Kalopsia search for industrial equipment that is no longer being used and save the pieces from being scrapped. They refurbish them and the machines are used in their micro manufacturing facility at Ocean Terminal. Zero Waste Scotland are supporting this venture as it is a great example of the merits of a circular economy.

Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective

Nina Falk, Creative Director at Kalopsia Collective

Once the ties are stitched, I package them with the story behind the inspiration for each design and Edinburgh photographer, Abi Radford, photographs them.

Photographer Abi Radford and model Jo Radford.

Photographer Abi Radford and model Jo Radford.

The passionate Gordon Millar of Scot Street Style launched my collection of  ties during Tartan Week in Brooklyn, New York earlier this year and their Edinburgh launch was at Design Weekend at the The Fruitmarket Gallery in May.

I have been working on the concept of linen ties since January so having worked for the last seven months with the wonderful creative people I have introduced you to in this post, it gives me a huge amount of satisfaction seeing the finished product and importantly selling this locally produced tie to people who are searching for ethically produced textiles from Scotland. The ties have a distinct character and attitude (I like to refer to them as my bad boy ties!) and I’ve been told offer some good chic-geek vibes around the office (!) so mix up your wardrobe and add some Scottish linen or if you are fed up with ‘double denim’ go the full hog and start a movement for ‘triple linen’😉

Thank you everyone who have helped make and launch the ties and thank you to all those buying them too.

And there is a new design coming out at the end of this week, it’s a special summer tie called ‘Prufrock’, one to be worn with white flannel trousers to walk along the beach…any guesses where the inspiration for this ones lies?