Stitch by Stitch - Contemporary handmade textiles from India & Nepal

Contemporary handmade soft furnishings from India & Nepal

Felt rugs from the mountains

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
An uextra large size Makalu radhi.  Photographed at The Old School Studio, London

An uextra large size Makalu radhi.  Photographed at The Old School Studio, London

Our radhi rugs are our best-selling products.  Based on traditional radhi produced for the local market in Nepal, they are often used as blankets, floor coverings and even worn to keep out the cold and rain.  They're woven in the Himalayas by artisans using wool from local sheep, which is hand-spun.  We use only the un-dyed wool in our designs - creamy white and a dark grey wool from black sheep.

Weaver using a traditional back-strap loom

Weaver using a traditional back-strap loom

The radhi are first woven on simple back-strap looms, which can be set up anywhere - against a tree or a building.  The looms are narrow, and the cloth woven on them is only about 36cm wide.  To create a larger piece such as a carpet, several strips of cloth are sewn together by hand.  Our rugs come in various sizes, using 4, 5 and 7 widths of narrow cloth joined together.

Sorting wool for spinning

Sorting wool for spinning

Woven radhi prior to felting

Woven radhi prior to felting

Once woven and sewn into larger pieces, the radhi are then washed and agitated in hot water to felt the wool, producing a thick, sturdy rug.  The fringed ends of the warp threads also felt together making a nice detail along the edges.

Boiled radhi 

Boiled radhi 

We designed several simple patterns based on the simple weaving process and taking inspiration from some of the traditional motifs we'd seen being woven.  Take a look at our full collection.  We try to keep a small stock of the small and large sizes in the UK, and we're always interested in creating bespoke designs to order.  Contact us if you have a rug project you'd like to discuss.

Glaciologist Kimberly Casey took this photo of Mt. Everest (left peak) lit by the sunset while she was in the field at Khumbu Glacier in the Nepali Himalayas. Shared through Creative Commons license.

Glaciologist Kimberly Casey took this photo of Mt. Everest (left peak) lit by the sunset while she was in the field at Khumbu Glacier in the Nepali Himalayas. Shared through Creative Commons license.

The Trend Tablet Interview

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
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We were honoured to have recently be interviewed for Li Edelkoort's Trend Tablet, an online publication which endeavours to explain how trends grow, evolve and flow; helping us to better perceive and understand how they interact with our daily life.

Li Edelkoort is a pioneering, and arguably the most important, trend forecaster in the world.  She is a curator, publisher and educator who lives life in the future!  By studying the links between art, fashion, design and consumer culture, her agency, Trend Union, provides design and lifestyle analysis for the world’s leading brands.  Stitch by Stitch founder Graham Hollick spent 10 years working for her agency in Paris before starting Stitch by Stitch. 

Trend Tablet's editor, Cecile Poignant, is passionate about the study of ever-shifting socio-economic trends, and develops strategic studies for international brands in the design, food and technology industries. 

Here is an excerpt from our interview which appeared in the Handmade section of Trend Tablet.  You can read the full article here.

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"When and how did you start Stitch by Stitch ?

In 2009, I  was invited by a friend at the Alliance Française in Ahmedabad to participate in a project with SEWA (the Self-Employed Women’s Association), which represents thousands of women embroiderers living in the remote villages of the vast Kutch region of Gujarat.  SEWA are dedicated to empowering women home-based workers by helping to develop a market for their artisan skills. Out of this project came the idea to launch my own line of textile products utilizing the ancient embroidery skills. Stitch by stitch was formed in 2010 and I was joined 4 years later by Karen Sear Shimali who was an old friend from art college, and has experience in selling and marketing.

Rabari woman spinning local Desi wool on a traditional spinning wheel called a charkha, in Kutch (Kachchh)

Rabari woman spinning local Desi wool on a traditional spinning wheel called a charkha, in Kutch (Kachchh)

How would you describe yourself ?

I am a creative person who has always had a passion for artisan and folk crafts. I love the element of mistake and error that machines can never replicate, the wobbly line, the unevenly spun yarn the raw edge.
 
What is your personal connection with textile?

I trained in textile design and have always had a passion for textiles but it was only about 20 years after graduating that I had this chance to launch my own collection.

Radhi rugs are handwoven on back strap looms before the felting process

Radhi rugs are handwoven on back strap looms before the felting process

"What fascinates you about India and Nepal ?

I love India and Nepal because of the artisan techniques that are all around and their unique creativity.
 
Could you describe your creative process ?

I love to immerse myself in the craft process and adapt those skills to create something new. I want to put their work into a new context.
 

Radhi rugs once boiled and felted

Radhi rugs once boiled and felted

"Is ethical production something meaningful for you ?

Ethical production is very important I want people to invest themselves in what they are doing and have a pride in it, therefore people have to be treated well and paid fairly.
 
Do you think you are giving a modern twist to a traditional heritage?

I don’t think of this as a modern twist more a personal interpretation of traditions . I prefer the idea that our products have a timeless quality.
 
What are your plans for the future?

We would like stitch to grow slowly and steadily to gradually add new products and work with new artisans. We are just beginning to sample a new cashmere blanket with a group of women weavers in Afghanistan."
 
Cecile Poignant

Woollen throw in Kutchi wool, organic kala cotton Chindi cushions

Woollen throw in Kutchi wool, organic kala cotton Chindi cushions

Kala Cotton: Organic and Sustainable

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
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At Stitch by Stitch we're committed to promoting sustainable, artisan textile production which enhances cultural livelihoods.  That's why we're proud to be working with an organisation in the heart of Kutch in northwest India, preserving the cultivation of indigenous kala cotton, or Old World cotton, and supporting local hand weavers. 

Why is kala cotton special?  The crop is purely rain fed, so unlike large scale industrialised cotton production, it doesn't require vast amounts of water to grow.  It's organic, since this hardy species has a naturally high tolerance to disease and pests.

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After years of experimentation and perfecting spinning and weaving techniques, the kala cotton initiative in Kutch has created a holistic and practical supply chain between the farmers, ginners, spinners and weavers of marginalised communities, to convert raw cotton into beautiful hand woven textiles.  This sustainable production is in total harmony with the local ecology

The weavers work on traditional pit looms

The weavers work on traditional pit looms

Following a devastating earthquake in 2001, the Kutch region experienced rapid industrialisation, which brought some prosperity, but also had a negative impact on cultural livelihoods.  Small-scale weavers couldn't buy raw materials in bulk, and found it hard to integrate with changing markets.  The number of weavers in Kutch declined from over 2000 in the mid-1990s, to around 600-700 today.

Our Chindi patchwork quilt is made with a patchwork of kala cotton fabrics woven for us to order

Our Chindi patchwork quilt is made with a patchwork of kala cotton fabrics woven for us to order

One of our weavers says, "I am proud of my weaving tradition.  It gives us an identity, and helps us to stand on our own feet."

Another adds, "I worked as a security man for two years. It was a hard time. Weaving Kala cotton gets me a fair amount of money.  I like working here with the community as leaving home and travelling the distance for work leaves me unsettled.  Weaving is my life... there is a sense of belonging that comes with it."

The Raw Chindi Quilt, inspired by Japanese Boro fabrics, is made from a patchwork of kala cotton fabrics, sewn with the raw edges on the surface

The Raw Chindi Quilt, inspired by Japanese Boro fabrics, is made from a patchwork of kala cotton fabrics, sewn with the raw edges on the surface

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Best of Instagram 2017

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
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We love Instagram!  In 2017, we made a conscious decision to focus on our favourite social media platform, and have really enjoyed sharing images, not only of our own products, but of the artisans who weave for us and their locality, homes, buildings and interiors that inspire us, or speak to us, and art and design that we admire.  It's been really interesting looking back over the year's posts to see which have had the most interest, engagement and comments from our fantastic Instagram community.  And of course, we love catching up with all the accounts we follow, and seeing what everyone is posting and discussing.

Here's a round up of our top 6 posts posts from the year - we very much look forward to more chats and interaction with our community in 2018 - join us! 

Slightly surprisingly (although possibly not, due to the interest in eco-friendly and responsible building materials?) this barn, above, by Dutch architecture firm Workshop Architecten, was our No. 1 most liked post, and also had the most engagement.  This barn showcases the ancient Japanese art of Shou Sugi Ban or charred wood cladding, which we find fascinating.  Not only does the charring impart a wonderful texture and depth of colour to the wood, it also makes it naturally fire-proof, negating the need for chemical treatments - a truly environmentally-friendly preservative.

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In at No. 2 is this lovely image from Stitch by Stitch founder Graham Hollick, taken on one of his travels to Kutch during the Diwali festival.  Animals are worshipped, and often decorated, on the fourth day of Diwali.

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Our third most popular post was this image of our Chindi quilt and cushions which we had taken for our lifestyle shoot at colour consultant Sophie Roet's lovely London home, by Josh van Gelder of The Old School Studio. It was essential for us to convey the soft handle and drape of the quilt, and I think Josh captured these qualities perfectly.  See more from the shoot here.

Our Khamir Cubes Quilt in Homes and Gardens Magazine, January 2017

Our Khamir Cubes Quilt in Homes and Gardens Magazine, January 2017

Right at the start of the year, our Khamir Cubes Quilt was featured in the January issue of Homes and Gardens in this great shoot entitled Highland Folk.  We love the rustic cabin setting, and it was lovely to see our quilt layered with bed linen from Volgan Linen and the blue and white throw from Burrel Mountains Originals.  Our Jannu radhi rug was also used in another fireside image.  You can read more on the Homes and Gardens blog here.  This image was a popular Instagram post for us.

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This detail of our Kukuben embroidered cushion came in at No.5.  These traditional stitches from Kutch are embroidered only by women, who learn them as young girls from their mothers.  Often, they are practiced over years, embroidering an elaborate wedding skirt.  We took a selection of traditional stitches and threaded them together with wandering lines of kantha stitching to produce this design, which we named after one of our very first embroiderers.

Photo by Navtej Singh

Photo by Navtej Singh

Finally, this incredible image reposted from photographer Natty Singh of flamingoes in flight over the Rann of Kutch, understandably prompted lots of comments.  This area is where our weavers live and work.  It's a vast salt marsh, desert for most of the year, but flooding during the monsoon to become a haven for birdlife.  Check out Natty Singh's Instagram - his series of portraits of the Rabaris of Gujarat, traditional nomadic herders and spinners of wool, is just wonderful.

Stitch by Stitch at the Tracey Neuls Shoe Boutique

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
Graham Hollick and Karen Sear Shimali of Stitch by Stitch

Graham Hollick and Karen Sear Shimali of Stitch by Stitch

When shoe designer Tracey Neuls asked us if we'd be interested in dressing the bedroom installation in her central London boutique, we leapt at the chance!  We're both huge fans of her comfortable, playful and elegantly crafted shoes which have earned her a reputation as the "creative's shoe designer". 

She also asked us for a Pillow Talk interview for her blog, following in the footsteps (sorry...couldn't resist that one!) of artist Kitty Finer, poet Mark Waldron, hat designer Flora McLean and Robert Rubbish of Le Gun Magazine.

Tracey's new shearling slippers on Stitch by Stitch Chindi Quilt

Tracey's new shearling slippers on Stitch by Stitch Chindi Quilt

To promote a new line of shearling slippers, the bedroom is installed in the Tracey Neuls Marylebone Lane boutique.  Our Chindi quilt and cushions, and Nuptse radhi rug add the finishing touches to a Matthew Hilton bed from De La Espada made up with Beaumont and Brown linen.

The bedroom is in situ until the New Year, so if you're in the area, pop along for a relaxing shoe shopping experience!

The bedroom is dressed with a Stitch by Stitch Chindi patchwork quilt and pillows, and Nuptse felted wool radhi rug

The bedroom is dressed with a Stitch by Stitch Chindi patchwork quilt and pillows, and Nuptse felted wool radhi rug

Marylebone High Street is a great location for Christmas shopping!

Marylebone High Street is a great location for Christmas shopping!

On Location at a Colour Consultant's Stylish London Home

Karen Sear ShimaliComment
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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.

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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.

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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
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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.

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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
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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

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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
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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.

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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". 

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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.

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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!

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