Berkhamsted Artisans, Arts and Crafts Market

Join me on Sunday in the picturesque Hertfordshire town of Berkhamsted. I will be on the first floor of the Town Hall where there will be a wide choice of fantastic handmade Christmas gifts on sale.

The Farmers’ Market will be open and the town is also a great place for Sunday lunch so why not make a day of it?

Berkhamsted Artisans, Arts and Crafts Market

Farmers’ Market

Tweed All About It

Tweed – it’s oh so fashionable with lots of lovely high quality products on the market – such as this fabulous Man Bag by Catherine Aitken. Plus some not so good ‘makers’ who have jumped on the bandwagon. But will the trend last and quality out? I do hope so.

Definition of Tweed…

My own celebration of Tweed! A true Harris Tweed jacket – which tells the story of this fantastic traditional industry and its unique link to the landscape and lifestyle – given a new life with a contemporary twist.

Visit the other pages on my Blog for more exciting Tweedie items.

Tweedvixen's Blog

I was recently asked by the fabulous Audacious Huxley for my definition of tweed.  I thought that the answer would be easy and obvious, until I actually thought about it.  Just parroting the usual Oxford dictionary description; “a rough surfaced woolen cloth, typically of mixed fleck colours, originally produced in Scotland.”  or giving the standard origin story regarding tweed being a misreading of the word twill, whilst all true it seemed an empty answer.

I believe that tweed is a fabric steeped in British Heritage and so for me must be made in the United Kingdom or Ireland. I know that many great Mills around the world make a tweed fabric to different levels of quality, some rather good but to me they are not tweed.  When buying a tweed garment surely part of the appeal is the heritage and the story it tells.

Tweed must be at least 80% wool or it is not tweed!…

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Red 2 White

This Blog and her related Etsy Shops are definitely worth a visit.  Her work is so beautiful and inspiring – another designer-maker who I am jealous of!

I have been thinking about direct dyeing/printing from plants for a long time and this only makes me even more keen to try this out.  I am wondering how I can use natural dyeing and plant prints, combined with stitch, to interpret my fabulous Harris land and seascapes.

BUT this plan will have to wait as I am busy at the moment working on a couple of commissions and preparing for my pre Christmas show – details to follow shortly.

Lewis People 1

I found everyone I met to be really friendly and helpful.

Here weaver Norman Mackenzie extols the virtues of his 60 year old traditional single width Hattersley loom.

Although many weavers now use the newer double-width looms which the fashion industry demands, Norman prefers the traditional Hattersley loom which his family used as he grew up.

On returning to Lewis on his retirement he was disappointed to find the family loom was no longer there. Fortunately, he was able to rescue one his neighbour was disposing of.

It was interesting to talk to him about our shared passion and in particular to discuss the amazing landscape colours to be found in his cloth. Needless to say I brought some back with me – just wish I could afford more!

I would like to thank Norman for our lovely chat and taking the time to share his experiences with me.

Standing Stones

Another sign of Lewis’ ancient history are the many standing stones and stone circles. The most well-known of these is Callanish. When walking amongst these amazing stones you can’t help feeling that they must have been of great significance to those who built them.

They certainly do have a mysterious and beautiful atmosphere.

Ancient Harris and Lewis

We really enjoyed visiting the Iron Age House – it was surprisingly large inside and your eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness inside.

The Black House was cozy and you could imagine living in it – in fact when the previous owners built a new house they didn’t like it and moved back to the Blackhouse.

It was interesting to see that the construction reflected that of the much older Iron age House. For instance the double walls with earth and peat in between was a common feature and the housing of animals and people in adjascent areas had also been retained.

A Step into the Unknown

After six years’ of study, and a very busy time at my Degree Show and New Designers, it is very hard to imagine my life from this point on.

I am totally committed to making new work and finding customers for it and, as I received such fantastic feedback for my Degree pieces, I am confident that there is a market for my accessories and jackets.

But now comes the hard bit – planning work which which is commercially viable and making and developing those crucial contacts that lead to sales.

I have decided to take it slowly and follow up on all the fantastic advice and interest I have received so far. I certainly think I do have a business-minded approach, which many artists find a challenge, so this will definitely help.

I am also going to take some time research and produce new images from nature, as I always find this inspiring.

I really miss drawing, painting and using mixed media to create patterns and am looking forward to making a lovely sketchbook, not as a requirement of my studies, but just for the joy of it!

However, despite feeling positive and motivated (mostly) the move away from the structure and security blanket of study is so great and different from what I am used to that any future life feels like it might be happening to someone else!

Exciting and scary at the same time.

Dyeing to Grow

Natural Dye expert Jenny Dean is also a genius in the garden and produces her own dye plants. Her book Wild Colour advises both on growing dye plants and using these to produce colour.

Unfortunately my garden currently ressembles a jungle but we are begining to tame it and hopefully in the future I can try dyes direct from their plant sources. Somewhere in the overgrowth I already have Rhubarb and just outside my garden Elder and Damson.

My poor neglected Rhubarb plant, lost in the wilderness!

In the meantime I get my dyestuffs online from