Silks and Snow

As I mentioned a few weeks ago my friend Gill from Paisley Pedlar http://paisleypedlar.wordpress. and I had planned a trip to visit the Whitchurch Silk Mill and yesterday was the day. We were a bit apprehensive before the trip as the weather has been very disruptive with the snow and ice but once again fortune smiled on us and we set off on clear roads. Gill was driving and she decided to take the scenic route which goes through some lovely countryside up the Downs if you get my drift. Completely to our delight we came across this fabulous winter wonderland of trees completely covered in snow, looking ever so much as if a huge dredger of icing sugar had been liberally sprinkled. I have never seen anything like it before.

We arrived in good time at the mill and made our first call at the shop which is at the entrance. We became enraptured by the beautiful celebration silk which was produced last year as part of a feasibility study. The mill had not been in production for several months and now with a new board of directors it is hoped it will start producing again very soon. The shop has some lovely examples of the luxurious and high quality silks produced made into items such as table runners and very elegant doorstops as well as a delightful needlebooks and rosette ruffles.

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The mill was built in 1815 and in its past wove the linings for Burberry’s based in nearby  Alton, it was weaving right up until 1985 when The Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust bought it to preserve and restore it. In 1990 the mill was opened to the public under the management of  The Whitchurch Silk Mill Trust.

The silk produced at the mill has been in demand in the recent past, by theatrical costumers and the cafe walls are lined with photos of the period production pieces as well as the many films and television productions which have featured Whitchurch Mill silks.

Organza, georgette, crepe, chiffon, dupion these names conjure up the variety and richness of texture into which silk thread is woven. The silk comes from all over the world as Britain is unable to produce any due to the climate. Although several of the looms were threaded up there were no weavers working that day. This was a disappointment to me as I would have loved to see the mechanised looms in action. But not to be outdone I had a go on a manual loom set up for visitors to try, complete with instructions. I have always loved silk fabric, the lustre of it gives the colours an eloquence and depth unrivalled by any other thread. The colours are gorgeous.

The river that runs by the mill was in full torrent due to the recent rainfall and a very large group of ducks were struggling against the flow. It certainly is a very picturesque spot and I hope they will continue weaving that fabulous silk very far into the future.

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A Friday Tale

Troodos mountains offer a very modern infrastr...

Troodos mountains offer a very modern infrastructure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After reading about the snow in Cyprus last week the snow has now also arrived in Tangmere today.  I found a nice little article here at On This Island  illustrating the extraordinary phenomenon that is Cyprus in winter, where you can go up to Troodos and ski in the morning then go down to the beach for a swim in the afternoon.

We don’t have quite enough snow here to ski although we do have a few hills where you can have fun sledding have you a mind to. If the snow is still around tomorrow and it looks as if it will be, I will be out with my camera and taking a few photos but not from a sled! I wanted to build a snowman earlier but when  I poked my nose outside the door this morning it was snowing a veritable blizzard, so I brought it back in sharpish and decided that making bread would be more of a suitable pastime.

I’ve also been browsing the web of course, perfect day for it, I was reading a recent post by Cypriot and Proud which was on a topic I relish: artisan/designers. This post  focuses on a young Cypriot weaver designer Joanna Louca who  studied ‘Textile constructed design’  and then gained a masters in ‘Textile in Art’ at Middlesex University London.  She now has a weaving studio in Cyprus where the textiles are produced and has collaborated with Italian designers to produce some wonderful bags. She also weaves her textiles to use  in all manner of creative ways, I love her colour combinations and her patterns echo the traditional patterns used in Cyprus for centuries.

I was thrilled to see this article as it is a fervent wish of mine to see the valuable traditional crafts like weaving and basket making, being used by young artists designers to produce contemporary and exciting designs, looks like Joanna is doing just that. I love it. She will be someone I would very much like to visit in person on a future visit, to see those beautiful textiles for myself.

Joanna Louca's work Photo courtesy of Cypriot and Proud

Joanna Louca’s work Photo courtesy of Cypriot and Proud