Stitch by Stitch - Contemporary handmade textiles from India & Nepal

Contemporary handmade soft furnishings from India & Nepal

On Location at a Colour Consultant's Stylish London Home

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
StitchByStitch_Chindi_patchwork_kantha_quilt_wool_radhi_rug

We recently completed a long-overdue photo shoot of some of our textile pieces, displaying them in a way in which we imagine they could be used.

Thanks so much to our wonderful friends, textile and colour consultant Sophie Roet (follow her on Instagram), for allowing us to use her lovely London home as the location, and photographer Josh van Gelder.  Josh also owns the Old School Studio - an amazing studio for hire in London's East End.

StitchByStitch_handwoven_desi_wool_artisan_bed_throw_indigo_embroidered

Pictured top are the Chindi Patchwork Kantha Quilt and cushions in soft, organic kala cotton, and the felted wool Kabru Radhi Rug.  

Above and below are the Desi Handwoven Wool embroidered blankets in indigo and natural, and Desi Handwoven Wool fringed cushions. Complementary cushions and blankets are available in all the wools shown.

StitchByStitch_handwoven_handspun_desi_wool_cushions_desi_wool_embroidered_throw
Patchwork Chequered Mashru Silk Cushion

Patchwork Chequered Mashru Silk Cushion

If you are an interior designer, please remember we offer a trade discount.  Please contact us for a price list and more details.

If you have a press enquiry and would like to use any of the images (and to see more), please contact karen@stitchbystitch.eu .

We have more photo shoots coming up in the summer months, and an exciting new quilt design in the Chindi collection.  Join us over on Instagram for a sneak preview.

To be kept up-to-date with our latest news and special offers, please join our mailing list!

A Sanctuary of Craft in the Heart of London

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
Baskets by Lorna Singleton, ceramics by Iva Polachova

Baskets by Lorna Singleton, ceramics by Iva Polachova

February has been a busy month for us at Stitch by Stitch, working on our business strategy for the year as well as dealing with increasing numbers of orders.  

But it's always important to make time to get out there and see what's going on in the wider world of design and craft, and popping in to The New Craftsmen in Mayfair, London, on a regular basis always gives me a jolt of inspiration and faith in the value of the handmade over mass-produced objects.

Slipware bottle by Dylan Bowen, cushions by The Good Shepherd and Kim Norrie

Slipware bottle by Dylan Bowen, cushions by The Good Shepherd and Kim Norrie

There's an ever-changing display of products from The New Craftsmen's stable of exceptional British artists, and always something new to discover.  The display and atmosphere of the showroom is also delightful - a welcome respite from the gaudy commercialism of nearby Oxford Street!

Here I share a few snaps I took of Lorna Singleton's utilitarian but poetic basketry which is based on traditional basket shapes from the south of Cumbria, gorgeous knitted textiles from The Good Shepherd and a piece of slipware from Oxford ceramicist Dylan Bowen.

Basketry by Lorna Singleton and Cuckmere Trug Company

Basketry by Lorna Singleton and Cuckmere Trug Company

Cushions by The Good Shepherd

Cushions by The Good Shepherd

Highlights From Collect - The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
Variations of a Stitched Cube by Richard McVetis

Variations of a Stitched Cube by Richard McVetis

We were privileged to have been invited to the private view of Collect this week in London.  Organised by the Crafts Council, this fair brings together some of the best galleries selling art objects of museum-quality from an international roster of contemporary makers in the fields of ceramics, glass, jewellery, wood, metal and textiles.

Shown here are some of the works that particularly caught our eye.

Eva Brandt ceramic jar and detail of kantha stitching on our Chindi quilt

Eva Brandt ceramic jar and detail of kantha stitching on our Chindi quilt

The delicate marks on this beautiful jar by Danish ceramicist Eva Brandt on the Flow Gallery stand, share a similar language with the kantha stitching on our Chindi quilts.

Sue Lawty

Sue Lawty

Also at Flow Gallery, we were blown away by Sue Lawty's mixed media pieces made with minuscule fragments of delicately hued stone, precisely arranged on canvas.

Akiko Hirai's Moonjar, displayed here with one of our radhi rugs at Flow Gallery last year.

Akiko Hirai's Moonjar, displayed here with one of our radhi rugs at Flow Gallery last year.

I find myself often drawn to the mass and dramatic presence of ceramic pieces.  Perhaps it is because they naturally complement and contrast the fluid textiles that we work with every day, yet they too are essentially utilitarian.

Annie Turner's stoneware "Net"

Annie Turner's stoneware "Net"

Wooden vessels at Sarah Myerscough Gallery

Wooden vessels at Sarah Myerscough Gallery

A full programme of booth talks and panel discussions runs alongside the exhibition.  Two talks which look particularly interesting will both be held on Saturday 4 February: "Craft, Architecture and Public Realm" explores the process of placing craft at the heart of architecture, with Grant Gibson, editor of Crafts Magazine and design practice AOC (11.30am).  "The Crafted Interior; The Hand-made Home" is a discussion between interior designer Fiona Barratt-Campbell, architect Spencer Fung and Flow Gallery director Yvonna Demczynska, on the power of craft within our homes (2.30pm).

Collect: The International Art Fair for Contemporary Objects runs from 2-6 February 2017 at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York's HQ, King's Rd, London SW3 4RY.

Uttarayan - Gujarat's Kite Flying Festival

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
Flying a kite on the roof of Ahmedabad's Jama Masjid mosque.  All photos by Meena Kadri.

Flying a kite on the roof of Ahmedabad's Jama Masjid mosque.  All photos by Meena Kadri.

I had a hasty What'sapp reply from our lady in Ahmedabad this Saturday, in response to a quick production query: "Today is kite-flying day and everyone is on the rooftop!".  (Despite this, she still managed to rustle up an answer to a price enquiry!)

I thought it apt therefore, to share something about this amazing festival, known as Uttarayan, which takes place on 14th and 15th January every year.

"Sorted" by Meena Kadri

"Sorted" by Meena Kadri

The Indian state of Gujarat celebrates some 200 festivals a year, but Uttarayan is arguably the biggest, and is now a 2-day public holiday.  

It marks the end of winter, and the return of summer and the impending harvest.  Everyone takes part, making kites at home and flying them from the rooftops.  The streets and markets in Ahmedabad are flooded with kite-sellers and equipment for kite-making in the days leading up to the festival.  One of the most famous markets for materials and kites is Patang Bazaar in Ahmedabad.

Flying a kite on the roof of the kite market.  

Flying a kite on the roof of the kite market.  

Symbolically, the festival represents the awakening of the Gods from their winter sleep.  It was first introduced by Persian Muslims, and was enthusiastically embraced by the kings and queens of India who made it a royal sport.  But gradually over the centuries, it became popular with ordinary citizens, and today everyone, regardless of faith or background, is welcome to join in the fun.  In 1989, the first International Kite Festival was held in Ahmedabad, which today attracts kite flyers from all over the world.

Sigh - I wish I could be there!

Enjoy these wonderful images of the festivities by Meena Kadri, and check out more of her gorgeous images on her Flikr page.  

You may also like this little film on kite-making from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad.

Colourful paper kites stacked in the Dilli Diwarja Patang market in Ahmedabad, which is open 24 hours a day in the lead up to the festival

Colourful paper kites stacked in the Dilli Diwarja Patang market in Ahmedabad, which is open 24 hours a day in the lead up to the festival

Kite flyers on the rooftop of a haveli in Ahmedabad.  The rooftops of the city become the centre of activity during the 2-day festival

Kite flyers on the rooftop of a haveli in Ahmedabad.  The rooftops of the city become the centre of activity during the 2-day festival

Manja-maker - these workers pop up all over Ahmedabad during kite season.  The kite string is coated in a mix of powdered glass and dye - manja - to enable the kite flyer to cut down opponents' kites!

Manja-maker - these workers pop up all over Ahmedabad during kite season.  The kite string is coated in a mix of powdered glass and dye - manja - to enable the kite flyer to cut down opponents' kites!

Kite flying goes on well into the night!

Kite flying goes on well into the night!

All images copyright of Meena Kadri, and are shared here under the Creative Commons License.

Muted Shades and Rustic Weaves in Homes & Gardens

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
Homes and Gardens, January 2017

Homes and Gardens, January 2017

We're delighted that our products have been featured in several high quality publications over the last couple of months, including Homes and Gardens, The Sunday Times and House and Garden.

Our Khamir Cubes quilt and Jannu radhi rug were photographed for January's Homes and Gardens "Highland Folk" feature (see the full feature online here).  We love the rustic location!

Homes and Gardens, January 2017

Homes and Gardens, January 2017

In November, our Indigo Kala Cotton Liti cushion was featured in House and Garden's Rank & Style feature.

House and Garden, November 2016

House and Garden, November 2016

And huge thanks to Katrina Burroughs at The Sunday Times for featuring our Chequered Mashru Quilt in her piece on ethical Christmas presents, "Give a Little Extra", in the Homes & Property section, on December 4th.

Sunday Times Homes & Property section, 4 December 2016

Sunday Times Homes & Property section, 4 December 2016

Decorex International 2016

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
Stitch by Stitch stand at Decorex 2016

Stitch by Stitch stand at Decorex 2016

What a busy couple of months we've had!  So much so, that I've only just got around to posting a few photos from Decorex International, the interiors trade show which takes place in London every September.  Stitch by Stitch exhibited this September for the first time, and it was a very successful show for us.  We made lots of new contacts in the interior design industry, and are already working on some lovely projects initiated by those first contacts.

The show gave us the opportunity to talk about our bespoke services to interior designers, which include making our standard pieces in special sizes, the opportunity to specify special embroidery colours, and offering our wool fabrics by the metre.

Desi embroidered blankets, hand-stitched Denim Kantha Quilt and Chindi Patchwork Kantha Quilt.  Wall colour is Plimsoll by Paint and Paper Library.

Desi embroidered blankets, hand-stitched Denim Kantha Quilt and Chindi Patchwork Kantha Quilt.  Wall colour is Plimsoll by Paint and Paper Library.

Thank you to the lovely people at Pinch for lending us this beautiful oak Imo bench, to display our Desi Naturals cushions.

Thank you to the lovely people at Pinch for lending us this beautiful oak Imo bench, to display our Desi Naturals cushions.

Our Chindi quilt dressing up the Vispring stand

Our Chindi quilt dressing up the Vispring stand

Makalu felted wool Radhi Rug  #Ihavethisthingwithfloors!

Makalu felted wool Radhi Rug  #Ihavethisthingwithfloors!

New hand woven, over-dyed indigo desi wool - we'll be introducing cushions and throws in this wool in January.  Also available to order by the metre.

New hand woven, over-dyed indigo desi wool - we'll be introducing cushions and throws in this wool in January.  Also available to order by the metre.

If you're an interior designer, and would like to learn more about how Stitch by Stitch can help with your soft furnishing needs, please contact us at info@stitchbystitch.eu, or join our mailing list to be kept up-to-date with our latest projects and product launches.

For more photographs of our products and inspiration, follow us on Instagram !

 

 

New Desi Naturals Hand Woven Wool Cushions

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
StitchByStitch_Desi_Naturals

We are delighted to present our new collection of hand spun, hand woven wool cushions!

These wool cushion covers are hand woven from local "desi" wool on traditional pit looms in Kutch, Gujarat, an area famed for its weaving.  

The weavers who create this wool cloth are part of a group of highly skilled artisans in Kutch, who have been encouraged by a local master weaver to stay in their village and pursue their traditional craft.   By being paid a fair price for their work, many have chosen to stay and weave, rather than leave the area and their families for work in the cities.

Desi wool has a distinctive "dry" texture, a little like linen, typical of wool from this area.  The wool yarn is left in its natural state, un-dyed, and because it is hand spun, the cloth has a wonderfully irregular texture, full of movement.

Available in three sizes: 40 x 40cm, 60 x 40cm and 60 x 60cm.

Complementary bed throws are also available, and we will soon be offering the wool cloth for sale by the metre - please email karen@stitchbystitch.eu for further info.

See the full collection here.

Pop-Up EXHIBITION at One Two Five Gallery, Bath

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
Radhi Rug with Gary Wood stoneware wall pieces

Radhi Rug with Gary Wood stoneware wall pieces

Last week we installed an exhibition of our textile pieces at our friend Carole Waller's gallery, One Two Five, in the beautiful city of Bath in SW England.

Carole owns the gallery with her potter husband, Gary Wood, and the juxtaposition of our cushions, quilts, blankets and towels with Carole's hand-painted and hand printed clothing, and Gary's beautiful stoneware, was a winning combination.  What is it about textiles and ceramics together?  Just gorgeous! 

We all even seem to share common colour palettes - naturals, blues, reds and monochrome.

StitchByStitch_OneTwoFive_Gary_Wood_bowls_Desi_cushion.JPG

On Sunday 31 July, Stitch by Stitch's Graham Hollick will be giving a talk about his trips to Kutch in the far NW of Gujarat state in India, and Nepal, and his experience of working with our amazing stable of textile artisans there.  He promises to have some wonderful insights to share!

Places for the talk are strictly limited, so if you'd like to come, please RSVP carole@carolewaller.co.uk to reserve your space as soon as possible.

Gary Wood large bowls, Stitch by Stitch Desi wool cushions

Gary Wood large bowls, Stitch by Stitch Desi wool cushions

On Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 July, there will be a sale of work with up to 50% discount on selected pieces.

Please join us - come along to the exhibition if you cannot make it to the talk on 31 July!

Organic kala cotton scarf in a Gary Wood bowl, with Kukuben embroidered cushion and radhi rug.

Organic kala cotton scarf in a Gary Wood bowl, with Kukuben embroidered cushion and radhi rug.

One Two Five gallery is open Weds-Sun, 11-5pm, and by appointment at other times (tel 07803 033629).

One Two Five Gallery schedules special exhibitions throughout the year.  Details can be found on the gallery website.

Stitch by Stitch cushions, towels and scarves with a Carole Waller scarf and shirt - prints inspired by Bath's roman archeology.

Stitch by Stitch cushions, towels and scarves with a Carole Waller scarf and shirt - prints inspired by Bath's roman archeology.

Graham brought these amazing Indian sweets from the East End of London to the private view!

Graham brought these amazing Indian sweets from the East End of London to the private view!

Stitch by Stitch at One Two Five Gallery, Bath

Karen Sear Shimali
StitchByStitch_radhi_rug_collection.jpg

We are delighted to announce that we will be exhibiting at

One Two Five Gallery

4 Abbey Green, Bath BA1 1NW

7-31 July 2016

And we cordially invite all our blog readers to the Private View on Thursday 7 July, 6 - 8pm

StitchByStitch_desi_red_cushion.jpg

Please join us for drinks on Thurs 7 July from 6 - 8pm for a special preview of the exhibition and to meet Graham Hollick and Karen Sear Shimali of Stitch by Stitch.  

RSVP to carole@carolewaller.co.uk

Pieces for sale during the exhibition range from £20 for hand embroidered cushion covers at a special exhibition sale price, to £838 for organic kala cotton patchwork quilts.

The exhibition runs from 7-31 July, open Weds-Sun 11-5pm, and by appointment at other times by telephoning 07803 033629.

Please join us - come along to the exhibition if you cannot make it on 7 July!

Glass panels by textile artist Carole Waller

Glass panels by textile artist Carole Waller

One Two Five is the showcase for textiles and ceramics made by Carole Waller and Gary Wood who are hosting the exhibition and also looking forward to meeting you.

Carole makes large scale paintings on fine silk fabrics which are hung un-stretched either against the wall or in space.  She also laminates the cloth between toughened glass to create glass panels which can be simply used freestanding, incorporated into furniture, or any architectural interior or exterior context.

Carole's summer collection of clothes and scarves will be available in the gallery and is online - with a new range of organic cotton T-shirts printed with images from Bath and its stones (I'll be grabbing a couple of those for myself!)

Coloured shots by ceramicist Gary Wood

Coloured shots by ceramicist Gary Wood

Ceramicist Gary Wood makes pots for use - bowls, cups, vases and candleholders - in stoneware and porcelain. These pots have a rich depth of colour and surface texture.

He also makes painted stoneware wall pieces which convey a sense of absolute timelessness.

One Two Five Gallery schedules special exhibitions throughout the year.  Details of exhibitions and opening hours can be found on the gallery website.

 

For all enquiries about Stitch by Stitch, please email Karen.

For all enquiries about One Two Five Gallery, Carole Waller and Gary Wood, please email Carole

 

Special Edition Z1 lamp for Ay Illuminate

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
Z1_Kukuben.jpg

We recently tried out a little idea with our wonderful friends at Ay Illuminate in the Netherlands.

The Z1 pendant lamp, designed by Nelson Sepulveda, has become an iconic product for super-stylish lighting company Ay Illuminate.  I'm sure you will be familiar with it since it is regularly featured in interiors magazines and is stocked by many of the world's most stylish homewares stores (such as Couleur Locale, HomeStories in NY and Kristina Stoeckel).  

"If you ask people to draw a lantern, they draw it like this." describes Nelson.  Based around a simple bamboo frame, the lamp comes in a variety of versions from the classic simple white cotton shade, to a silk cashmere shade which is woven by hand in Afghanistan (providing work for impoverished communities and reviving the art of cashmere and silk weaving which nearly vanished from the country in recent times).

Back in 2015 we had a conversation with Nelson at Maison et Objet in Paris.  He and Ay Lin Heinen, the founder of Ay Illuminate, had the idea to create special editions of the Z1 shade to celebrate 10 years of it's enduring popularity.  We share a common passion with Ay Illuminate and Nelson Sepulveda for local traditions and making objects in natural materials in contemporary designs.  The collaboration seemed like the perfect fit, and our design director Graham suggested we create some embroidered white cotton fabric shades for the Z1.

Z1_Bindi_drwg.jpg

Taking our embroidered cushion designs as a starting point, Graham drew out 3 patterns which we then sent to our talented embroiderers in Kutch along with the pre-cut shades from Ay Illuminate.

Here are the results!  We think they look wonderful, and hope you like them.  Ay Illuminate will be showing the designs in their special projects section at Maison et Objet this September.

For all enquiries on these special edition embroidered lamps, in the first instance please contact us.

The design of the Z1 has its roots in a childhood memory of Nelson's: "New Years Eve, I was around 8-9 years old and walked down a dark street.  Someone lit a paper lantern.  A flame sparkled, and up the yellow lantern rose into the black sky.  Pure magic". 

The design of the Z1 has its roots in a childhood memory of Nelson's: "New Years Eve, I was around 8-9 years old and walked down a dark street.  Someone lit a paper lantern.  A flame sparkled, and up the yellow lantern rose into the black sky.  Pure magic". 

Z1_Liti.jpg
Z1_Liti_drwg.jpg
IMG_7309.JPG

 

 

What caught our eye at Clerkenwell Design Week

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
Slovakian ceramicist Silvia K's tin-glazed earthenware platters with leather detailing.

Slovakian ceramicist Silvia K's tin-glazed earthenware platters with leather detailing.

What I love most about London's Clerkenwell Design Week is the sheer diversity of open showrooms and exhibitors, scattered throughout the historic streets and buildings in one of London's most interesting enclaves.  This, and the lack of any tight format to which exhibitors must conform.

Now in its 7th year, the festival brings together furniture makers, manufacturers, textile designers, lighting companies, architects and artists - big and small, well-known and undiscovered.  The only selection criteria appears to be high quality, imagination and innovation manifested in interesting products for the interiors sector.  

It can be a bit confusing navigating your way around the myriad of exhibits dotted throughout the medieval streets of EC1.  I always miss something, and inevitably get happily lost, even though I used to live and work nearby!

Here are a few snippets of inspiration we wanted to share:

Designer-maker Varni Southern Wickery from Thailand, supported by The British Council. 

Designer-maker Varni Southern Wickery from Thailand, supported by The British Council. 

Pillar Candlesticks, rings and vessels from Thai designer-makers Patapian.  Combining Thai wicker weaving techniques with other local craft skills.

Pillar Candlesticks, rings and vessels from Thai designer-makers Patapian.  Combining Thai wicker weaving techniques with other local craft skills.

Tania Johnson Design exhibited pieces from her beautiful Journeys in Colour collection of hand knotted rugs, inspired by her photographs of light, shadows and reflections.  She works with makers in Nepal, supported by humanitarian organisation Good Weave.

Tania Johnson Design exhibited pieces from her beautiful Journeys in Colour collection of hand knotted rugs, inspired by her photographs of light, shadows and reflections.  She works with makers in Nepal, supported by humanitarian organisation Good Weave.

Billboards by Giles Miller Studio for British Ceramic Tile.  Large-scale, abstract signage sculptures in glass tiles that aimed to help visitors navigate their way around the festival.

Billboards by Giles Miller Studio for British Ceramic Tile.  Large-scale, abstract signage sculptures in glass tiles that aimed to help visitors navigate their way around the festival.

Fresh Spring Blues

Karen Sear ShimaliComment

We recently introduced this fresh new blue on blue colour way to our embroidered Indigo Kala Cotton Cushion Collection.

Our embroiderers are self-employed and paid a fair wage for their beautiful work.  The organic kala cotton is woven specially for us by a group of farmers and weavers in Kutch, India, and dyed with natural indigo. 

You can read more about the kala cotton initiative here and here.

Continuing the blue and white theme, our Kala Cotton Towels and Scarves, also from our kala cotton weavers, are available in natural indigo too.

If you'd like to keep up to date with new products and other news, join our mailing list here!  We'd love to keep you posted.

The End of February

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
Akiko Hirai's Moon Jar, with radhi rug at Flow Gallery

Akiko Hirai's Moon Jar, with radhi rug at Flow Gallery

Well, thankfully, it's almost the end of March, but "The End of February" is the title of a new exhibition of Akiko Hirai's ceramics at Flow Gallery in London's Notting Hill.

We absolutely love Hirai's beautiful pieces, particularly the gorgeously textured Moon Jars made using the Kohiki technique.  So we were thrilled to have been asked by the gallery owner to show some of our indigo kala cotton textiles, and a radhi rug alongside these fabulous vessels.

The title of the exhibition is inspired by a chapter in The Pillow Book, a classic of Japanese literature written a thousand years ago, in which the changing of the seasons are observed and expressed through the art of Waka poetry (put very simply: a poem of two halves).  

Hirai believes her ceramics to be only half finished, to be completed by the person who uses them, and in the way in which they are used.

Akiko_hirai.jpg

Thus, she suggests that the completion of her Moon Jars would be the addition of the owner's flowers.  Her cups are not cups until the owner drinks tea from them.  It's a lovely, humble concept.

These bottles are inspired by the still life paintings of Giorgio Morandi.  Hirai again explores the theme of the painter "completing" the objects by their way of seeing the objects.  

Hirai's method for injecting a sense of character into the bottles is to throw them freely, allowing the necks of the bottles to lean asymmetrically which gives them almost a human "posture", reflecting life into lifeless objects.

Stitch By Stitch indigo cotton textiles on display at Flow Gallery

Stitch By Stitch indigo cotton textiles on display at Flow Gallery

"The End of February" is at Flow Gallery, 1-5 Needham Road, London W11 2RP until 20 May 2016.

Social Fabric: African Textiles Today

Karen Sear Shimali
Nelson Mandela capulana, 2008, copyright: Trustees of the British Museum

Nelson Mandela capulana, 2008, copyright: Trustees of the British Museum

Always on the look out for interesting textile exhibitions, we recently learnt of this new show which just opened at the William Morris Gallery in north London, Social Fabric: African Textiles Today.  

It explores how printed and factory-woven textiles of eastern and southern Africa mirror social change, changing fashion and tastes in the region.  The exhibition brings together kanga from Kenya and Tanzania and schweshwe textiles from southern Africa, and reveals how African tastes have been shaped by global trade.

 

'I did not join the struggle to be poor' by Lawrence Lemaoana, South Africa, 2015.  Copyright: Afronova Johannesburg and Lawrence Lemaoana

'I did not join the struggle to be poor' by Lawrence Lemaoana, South Africa, 2015.  Copyright: Afronova Johannesburg and Lawrence Lemaoana

Also featured are contemporary artworks and fashion inspired by the textiles in the exhibition, such as this artwork above by Lawrence Lemaoana, who uses kanga to express notions of power in post-Apartheid South Africa.  

The varied patterns and inscriptions are thought provoking and often humorous. They often convey thoughts and feelings which can't always be spoken out loud.  The fabrics are worn in both secular and sacred contexts.

London-based fashion label CHiCHia is inspired by proverbs from Tanzanian kanga, like the example shown below.

"I may be quiet, but there's a lot in my heart", Kenya, early 21st century.  Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum.

"I may be quiet, but there's a lot in my heart", Kenya, early 21st century.  Copyright: Trustees of the British Museum.

Social Fabric: African Textiles Today, is at the William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Rd, Walthamstow, London E17 4PP, until 29 May 2016.

It is a British Museum touring exhibition supported by The British Museum and The Dorset Foundation.  Thank you to the William Morris Gallery for the images.

 

Carl Goes London City Guide: Visitor Tips from Graham Hollick

Karen Sear ShimaliComment

Have you seen these cool new city guides with a difference, from independent publisher Carl Goes?  There's one for Berlin and Amsterdam, and most recently our home town, London.  

Which is where we come in!  

Carl Goes "wants you to become a citizen of the cities you visit" and to this end they've enlisted the advice of a number of creative locals, including our very own director, Graham, for the usual tips on where to eat and drink, and which museums to visit.  

But the guides also probe a bit deeper by asking interviewees "How can visitors blend in and 'get lost' in the city", and "is there a particular smell you associate with the city?"  (For the record, Graham cites a good full-English breakfast fry-up of eggs and bacon, and Tom Dixon's Scent of London candle!).

Whether you're visiting London for 3 days or 3 months, or even considering moving here to live, you could do worse than start with this guide for "Urban Nomads".  

Buy your guides here!

Carl_Goes_London



    


REWILD YOURSELF, AT MAISON ET OBJET!

Karen Sear ShimaliComment

We're off to Paris this week to exhibit at interiors trade fair Maison et Objet.  This will be our fifth time!

If I can get away from the stand I always make a point of visiting the Inspirations section at the show.  This is a regular changing exhibition exploring current interior design trends, brought to you each season by l'Observatoire de Maison et Objet, and it's always worth a look.  

This season, the theme is WILD, with scenography by Elizabeth Leriche and Francois Bernard, and I've shared here a short film which introduces the exhibition.  You can also purchase the book here.

In our increasingly urbanised world, where technology plays a huge part in our everyday lives, the WILD exhibition explores the notion of the basic human desire to reconnect with nature and the natural landscape, and inspires us to re-wild ourselves! 

We hope you enjoy the little film - let me know your thoughts below. 

We hope to see you in Paris!

Maison et Objet, 22-26 January 2016, Paris.

What not to miss at maison et objet

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
M&O_Jan16

Happy New Year!

I can't believe it's January again already, and for us that means full speed ahead for exhibiting at Maison et Objet in Paris in just under two weeks' time!

We will be showing lots of lovely new textile pieces this season.  We've expanded our Chindi patchwork collection following a fantastic response at Maison et Objet last September (full details coming soon - join our mailing list for further info).  We've added generously-sized floor cushions and plain indigo and off-white handmade kanthe quilts to the range. 

On our last visit to Kutch, India, we visited our favourite master weaver and discovered some new delicately striped wools in soft, naturally dyed colours.  We will introduce some cushions in these wools.

And we've played about with the embroidery colours on our Indigo Kala Cotton cushions.  Cue our most subtle blue on blue colourway!  

So, obviously, don't forget to visit us in Hall 1, Stand C55.  

But enough about us:  we've often been told by retailers and designers that Hall 1 is where the real "gems" are to be found.  So we thought you might like to know who else, in our humble opinion, is not to be missed in Hall 1...  

Valentina Hoyos - Beautifully crafted oversized baskets, carved wooden kitchen utensils, and made to measure sisal rugs handmade by fairly paid Colombian artisans.  Stand E77.

Ay Illuminate - Inspired by nature and Asian and African cultures, the organic shapes of Ay Illuminate's lighting designs in natural materials are always drop-dead gorgeous!  Stand E26/F25.

Nur Gallery - French designer Cecile makes glamorous paper lanterns, large tote bags, and home furnishings of the highest quality using vintage and new linens, leather, 100% cotton paper and oak in her Paris workshop.  A neutral palette is her signature.   Stand D48.

Khadi and Co - The doyenne of hand spun, hand woven cotton, silk and wool from India, Danish designer Bess Nielsen is inspired by the spirit of khadi, and has been producing outstanding collections of home textiles and clothing for nearly two decades.  Stand D40.

Aniza - works with Mexican textile artisans to support their craftsmanship and help preserve the rich cultural textile heritage of Mexico.  The result is a sophisticated collection of cushions, bed linen and table linen created with the ancient skills of the indigenous Totzil Mayans, Nahuas and Zapotecs.  The Otomi hand embroidery of birds and flowers is particularly striking.  Stand D49.

We look forward to seeing you there!  Tickets are available in advance on the M&O website (slightly discounted until 21 January).

Join our mailing list to keep up to date with new products, exhibitions and other news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://stitchbystitch.eu/

Rabari Hand Spinners in Kutch

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
StitchByStitch_rabari_handspinning1.jpg

On a recent visit to the Kutch region of western Gujarat in India, we saw these Rabari women busy spinning wool at the workshops of master weaver Vankar Vishram Valji in Bhujodi. 

StitchByStitch_rabari_handspinning2.jpg

The Rabari, an indigenous tribal caste which probably originated in Afghanistan, traditionally led a nomadic life raising sheep, camels and goats, and spinning their wool.  They exchanged their hand spun wool for hand woven clothing and blankets.  As elsewhere in the world, attitudes in India towards tolerating nomadic groups have changed, and only a small number of Rabari are now truly nomadic.  However, one can still see them moving through the arid desert region of Kutch, carrying their tented homes with them. 

Carding of the wool is done by hand, without tools.  Every little speck of dirt is removed!

Carding of the wool is done by hand, without tools.  Every little speck of dirt is removed!

The award-winning Vankar Vishram Valji weavers are some of the most respected and accomplished weavers in Kutch.  Under the management of Shamjibai, they are committed to keeping alive the dying craft of hand loom weaving and natural dyeing in the face of stiff competition from machine woven cloth, man made fibres and chemical dyestuffs.  Shamjibai has encouraged these Rabari women to continue their traditional hand spinning for his weavers.

StitchByStitch_rabari_vankar_vishram_valji.jpg

We're currently working on a new collection of hand woven cushions with Vankar Vishram Valji wools, to be launched at Maison et Objet in Paris this January.  Sign up for our mailing list for further info!

The Fabric of India at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Karen Sear Shimali1 Comment
Wall hanging, cotton appliqué, Gujarat , 20th Century, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.  Found on the side of a road in New York!

Wall hanging, cotton appliqué, Gujarat , 20th Century, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.  Found on the side of a road in New York!

If you're reading my blog, you probably have a passing interest in Indian textiles.  So I must urge you, if you are within reach of London at all before 10 January, you must go and see the Victoria and Albert Museum's landmark exhibition, The Fabric of India.  It's wonderful! 

This comprehensive exhibition pulls together a vast number of exhibits, many collected in the 19th century for what was once the India Museum in London (1801-1879).  It explores the wide variety of materials and techniques used to create textiles both for everyday use, and for the wealthy.  It also documents the history of India's export of textiles all over the world.

03._Wall_hanging_detail_cotton_appliqué_Gujarat_20th_century__Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London

There is too much to highlight in this short blog post, but it was interesting to see the large number of pieces from Gujarat (where Stitch by Stitch embroidery work comes from), and particularly the Kutch region where our weavers are based.  Gujarati's "embroider the best of any people in India, and perhaps the world" remarked one 18th-century English scholar.  There was a huge demand for Gujarati embroidery in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.  Gujarat was also the main centre of weaving innovation for more than 500 years.  

Rabari child’s jacket, cotton embroidered with silk, 20th century, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Rabari child’s jacket, cotton embroidered with silk, 20th century, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The opening section of the exhibition explores how fabrics are dyed with natural materials such as pomegranate and indigo - techniques which are having a revival today - and the complex techniques of block printing, weaving and embroidery throughout history.  There are some excellent videos demonstrating the arts of indigo dyeing, the carving of printing blocks, hand loom weaving, and ari embroidery.   If you can't make it to the exhibition, you can see these short films on the V&A website here.

Wall hanging (detail), cotton appliqué, Gujarat for the Western market, ca. 1700, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Wall hanging (detail), cotton appliqué, Gujarat for the Western market, ca. 1700, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Indian textile-makers exported fabrics to the Middle East, Mediterranean, Africa and Asia for many centuries before European traders arrived in the 15th century.  Trade was in both everyday fabrics as well as luxury textiles.  India's expertise lay not only in its highly skilled artisans, but also in understanding and meeting the needs of its export markets. 

Sultan Tipu's Tent, 1725 - 1750, National Trust Images

Sultan Tipu's Tent, 1725 - 1750, National Trust Images

We were delighted to see the work of several contemporary Kutch artisans in the exhibition, including block-printing from Khalid Amin, Rabari shawls from Dayalal Kudecha, and textiles from the Kiri Makaudi family of dyers.  The exhibition celebrates the revival of these traditional skills, championed especially by the fashion and film industry.   

In the vibrant finale to the exhibition, a selection of the most exciting saris being produced today are shown, including one featuring the wonderful clamp-dye work of Aziz and Suleman Khatri, whom we visited recently in Kutch.  I have one of their gorgeous silk scarves!

A silk scarf clamp-dyed by Aziz and Suleman Khatri, Kutch. Photo: Stitch by Stitch

A silk scarf clamp-dyed by Aziz and Suleman Khatri, Kutch. Photo: Stitch by Stitch

The Fabric of India, supported by Good Earth India, with thanks to Experion and Nirav Modi, is at the V&A from 3 October 2015 – 10 January 2016, vam.ac.uk/fabricofindia