Saturday, March 23

Wool House

Somerset House in London has just been host to a 12-day celebration of all things woolly, organised by the Campaign for Wool and curated by designer Arabella McNie. Although I didn't manage to get to any of the fantastic-looking workshops that were scheduled, I did find time to drop in on Friday and check out the exhibition. 

There was an inspirational range of stuff - from humorous and impressive art works like this life-size crocheted bear by Shauna Richardson to whole room sets that had been specially commissioned from leading interior designers to showcase wool in its many forms. Spinners, weavers, knitters and other crafters showed off their skills throughout the week, and there were exhibitions demonstrating how wool is used in clothing, textiles and other products, as well as some more radical applications like this chair made of fibre and resin by Devon start-up company Solidwool.

I watched a woman working on a fairly small tapestry using beautiful natural yarns to create a picture of bare tree trunks in a winter scene. This is a craft I've never really been aware of - the work looked slow and painstaking and very complicated with all the different bobbins and the need to think ahead and work out how to build the picture up with the different colours.

There were some great displays of how wool is used in clothing and fashion, including these great Vivienne Westwood platform shoes and the tweed-covered headphones below. 

As well as these quirky items, there was a whole room devoted to tailoring which was totally fascinating. It included two scrapbooks full of handwritten pages explaining the different types of stitches and techiques used for making a bespoke suit.

The seven interiors that had been built in rooms in part of the exhibition space were quite breathtaking and all very different. I'm pretty sure everyone who saw them wanted to move in at least one of them, and it was hard to resist the urge to throw yourself on all the beds and sofas, caressing every different texture and cooing over the colourful fabrics.

My favourites were Donna Wilson's nursery, Anne Kyyro Quinn's funky fun room (below)..

..and the rather classy bedroom which was designed by Kit Kemp. Green may not be a traditional choice of colour for a bedroom but would totally suit me!

Sunday, March 3

Where did February go?

February seems to have been and gone in an unseemly haste - a mishmash of work deadlines (two publications in one week - argh!) and weekends with some rather difficult stuff mixed in, in particular a whole tranche of painful redundancies at work. 

St Paul's Church, Deptford
But there have been some lovely bits, and here's a taster - and a reminder that it's not all been grey doom and gloom like the past week!

A walk around Box Hill and Polegate Lacey went past this lovely youth hostel at Tanner's Hatch. It's buried in the woods of Surrey although not really that far from civilisation but looks like a great place for getting away from it all.

I had a very different day out in Kent with a walking group - I'm used to walking on my own or with one or two people, so a group of 20 was rather daunting. Loved having someone else in charge of the map reading and navigation and the company was fun. The photo above is Oldbury Hill - you know how much I love winter trees, this was like my idea of heaven. Planning to return to this walk in the spring, as there were a lot of beech trees and this woodland will be even more spectacular with a canopy of fresh green beech leaves.

Above and below: early morning bike ride along the Thames path. Sometimes I take this beautiful part of London for granted, which won't do at all. And I have almost as many pictures of the Thames Barrier as I do of trees. Just call me an engineering nerd.

Backing up my last comment - here's a few more tree photos. The one above is the rather creepy tree roots in Trosley Country Park in Kent; below a heavily-weathered tree trunk alongside the Greensand Way near Knole in Kent.

The most recent cultural delight was a long-overdue visit to Chatham Dockyard - despite it being freezing cold we had a fantastic time watching rope being made in the huge ropery, and visiting all the ships. The cold-war submarine which sits in the beautiful dry dock was my particular favourite although the tour of the incredibly compact interior backed up my assumptions about how I'd feel to be confined in such a space even for a short time.