Saturday, June 4, 2011

colour and texture...

Over the past week I've been knitting up scarves and cushions using Rare Yarns alpaca and its been a reminder of just how much I enjoy working with natural tones and textures.   ak is, of course, all about colour...albeit an unconventional palette of slightly dirty defines us.   

Subtle vegetable dyes and aged indigo renmants are so viserally beautiful they have the capacity to bring on a dull ache in the pit of my stomach..but equally I find handwoven domestic textiles in natural fibres utterly irresistible.  The appeal lies in part in the limitless array of subtle shades they work back so well together...but also in the variety of textures to found across natural fibres.  Traditionally created on narrow looms, this genre of textiles were once integral to a household...part of the nomadic familes wealth and a mark of a well run Victorian manor.  Valued for their utilariarian qualities as much as their good looks they were created with skill and care, rolled up and stored away to be turned into mattresses and bedding, floor coverings and curtains, tea towels, table wear and even clothing as the need arose.  

My stash of aged textiles has grown considerably since starting ak because I've been lucky enough to go hunting and gathering in some of the most interesting textile markets in the world.  Sadly I'm a true collector at heart and not a trader and so I never want to part with anything...and so the shelves and cupborads at ak are stacked with narrow bolts of gutsy handwoven Turkish cotton, slubbed silk once destined  for shirts, seed bags,  fine linen and cotton blends in subtle gradations of stone and donkey brown and cream ... 15m lengths of ultra fine woven mohair thats so heavy it feels wet to the touch...rough  open weave Anatolian wool that shrivels and scrunches up when washed...Turkish mattress ticking in red and blue stripes,  prone to run and therefore impractical but oh so lovely to look at ...hand woven self embroidered woollen bedcovers in natural creamy wool...vintage French cottons once used for laundry bags and tea towels...authentic and just lovely to own

But to return to my far more down to earth project at hand,...knitted cushions and throws.  I want to give a plug to Rare Yarns range of alpaca which is interesting to work with because it  offers a selection of yarn types, from classic DK and traditional boucle to brushed boucle and blended boucles, in the same colours which opens up all sorts of creative possibilities. Think Kelly Hoppen, the English interior designer whose signature look involves bringing together different textures in a palette of natural shades in ways that are both pleasing and far from neutral.