Our adventure into more homewares....
This is our dedication to the wonderful Welsh woollen industry, one of the most sustainable, artisanal, small scale, resilient communities in the British Isles.
We've just launched our first homewares collection. Kate won't allow me to use the word 'Proud' so I'll just say 'I'm chuffed' because I honestly believe these new products, the throws, the cushions, and the hot water bottle covers exemplify the Turtle Doves ethos: beautiful sustainable fabrics that were either thrown away or considered as surplus to requirements, moulded into genuinely unique yet completely functional products, with a colourful sprinkling of Turtle Doves stardust bestowed upon them.
The products we've just produced are a first. No one else is making products from pre-loved cashmere AND up-cycled Welsh wool. And this is the best wool you'll find anywhere in the world. The Welsh tapestry in our traditional range is the stuff that heir-looms are made of and we are delighted to have found a source of unloved heirlooms. Here's a shot of Ellie sorting them prior to making the new products and then some of the made products:
The 100% lambswool from our contemporary selection is from one of the few remaining Welsh mills, a mill that is at the forefront of the revival of the Welsh Wool industry. The mill is Melin Tregwynt and its fabrics can be found in hip hotels and design-led stores worldwide and on TV and film sets. Melin Tregwynt is a delightful white-washed building sitting in a remote wooded valley on the Pembrokeshire coast. There's been a mill here since the 17th century. In their finishing workshop I met a lady with a big needle in her hand who showed me a framed photo that sat on the foot-thick window sill, of her Mum and her grandmother working in the same room. Like most Welsh mills it's been in the family for generations. It's worth a visit if you fancy a map challenge.... it's on the edge of nowhere. But they do have a shop and coffee shop and they treat you very well (details at the bottom of the page).
The designs in our contemporary range were inspired by the pioneers from Wales who settled in South America 150 years ago to create Patagonia. The fabric has been graded by the Martindale rub test as 16000 rubs which means the fabric is extremely high quality. We reason the material is recycled is because it either has design inconsistencies (which are nearly impossible to spot) or they are the meterage run through the Mill's machines as a test first thing in the morning and put aside, a tradition going back years, or because for some reason the colours are different to the main batch. Sometimes the weave look loose so we apply a touch of the Turtle Doves magic to bring it back into line. The Mill's owners are happy to sell their not-quite-firsts to Turtle Doves because they know how we cherish wonderful fabrics and turn them into beautiful British-made creations. We've cut our teeth getting good at refurbishing and redesign.
Welsh tapestry blankets are probably second only to the famous Rugby shirts as icons of 'Welshness', artistry and hardiness entwined. Many of the mills that made these tapestries are gone. Each mill had its own design, are double-weaved and therefore reversible and are traditionally given as wedding gifts, to be handed down the generations. I stumbled across a source of vintage Welsh tapestry blankets, all of which have been discarded, in February (and it wasn't eBay), showed them to the clever ladies in the Turtle Doves studio, who set about matching them up with the thousands of cashmere swatches we have. This is now an established company skill, one that Kate insists on.
If you'd like to read more about how we make our cashmere blankets there's a blog you can read by clicking here.
So all of our new home furnishings collection is a genuine one-off. Beautifully made by our two Welsh seamstresses on vintage British machinery, in Britain. Part of the great revival in British craftsmanship.
Ps. If you fance a visit to Melin Tregwynt you'll find them here