• Country business

    Feel festive with Thornback & Peel

    by  • 16/12/2015 • Country business • 0 Comments

    READY_group copyJuliet Thornback and Delia Peel launched their iconic business, Thornback & Peel, in 2006 after discovering a mutual passion for screen-printing. A florist and a set designer at the time, they decided to play on their love of the eccentric and surreal, printing designs with a dash of quirky British humour onto a range of homewares. Their festive collection extends to crackers, aprons, tea-towels and more – perfect for those looking to put an unusual twist on a traditional Christmas this year!

    What inspires your designs?
    We like to draw on British humour in our designs, updating classic ideas from old tales we loved as children. By playing with colour, form and scale we produce prints with a little charm from the past. Sources for inspiration include anything from Mrs Beeton’s Household Management and Alice in Wonderland to 17th century microscope imagery of the natural world!

    What do you hope to inspire in others?
    When thinking about new products we always return to the William Morris quote: ‘have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’. We hope our designs are something you can delight in every day.

    Which festive design is your favourite?
    Juliet: For me it’s Robin & Holly. It’s a perfect pick for anyone who is the first to have their decorations up, cards sent, and always has the biggest tree possible!
    Delia: The Stag & Mistletoe design. It’s great for a Christmas romantic; lovers of country walks, open fires and kissing under the mistletoe of course!

    What’s next?
    We’ve been working on an exclusive collection for Fortnum & Mason featuring bees inspired by their own rooftop hives. This design is especially close to Delia’s heart as she’s just inherited a beehive. Our next collection is the launch of SS16. They’ve not been signed off yet, but we’ve had great responses!

    Describe your creative style in 3 words.
    Humorous, classic and timeless.

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    Meet Kate Sproston

    by  • 09/12/2015 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupFrom stockings to garlands, Kate Sproston’s embroidered Christmas decorations and accessories are perfect for creating a festive country feel in your home. These stunning resuable crackers (above) are made from beautifully rustic linen fabric – we love that you can fill them with your own treats! Read on to find out what surprising item one of Kate’s previous customers chose…!

    How did you get into embroidery?
    My mum has always been into crafts. She makes curtains, knits and cross stitches, so I’ve always been around fabrics and thread! As a child I was never happier than when I was drawing, so embroidery seemed a natural progression for me.

    Describe the design process.
    All my designs start off as a sketch, which I then transfer onto the computer. The program I use converts the drawing to stitch. It’s then loaded onto a digital machine and embroidered. Each product is constructed and produced using a sewing machine – I love my trusty old Bernina!

    What inspires you?
    Nature is a big inspiration for me, along with history, illustration and stories, too. As a child I was always leafing through my mum’s National Geographic magazines. Apparently I loved all the green and gold images!

    Which of your products do you love the most?
    It’s got to be my reusable woodland crackers. I love to hear what gifts my customers have filled them with. I know one lady who included a baby scan picture – she gave it to her mum to open on Christmas day and surprised her with the news of her first grandchild!

    What do you love about most about a country Christmas?
    One of my favourite things is returning from a frosty walk and snuggling up by a roaring log fire. It’s so warm and cosy, regardless of how bleak it is outside! I also love to give and receive handmade gifts. It’s nice to know something has been created especially with you in mind. I really appreciate the time and effort that goes into making it.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Illustrative, country and detailed.

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    Meet Hattie Kerrs

    by  • 02/12/2015 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupWe’re looking forward to putting our trees up this weekend at Country Days, even more so now we’ve spotted these sweet jumper and stocking decs from textile designer and pro-knitter Hattie – the fun Fair Isle designs are so festive! She shares the inspiration behind her snuggly range of knitted wares including cushions, gloves, hats and more…

    How did you get into textile design?
    I have always loved pattern and repetition, so applying it to textiles seemed a natural choice. Although I originally studied Fine Art at university, textiles is something I have always felt an affinity and warmth towards.

    Describe the design and making process.
    I tend to start with the material, and this usually dictates what I can make with it. The more character a material has, the easier design choices seem to be. I inevitably end up making quite a few wonky samples whilst developing products – these end up in our cottage or I wear them whilst dog walking!

    What inspires you?
    I love the seasons, natural colours and patterns. I am also very interested in folk crafts and different countries’ particular traditions. The love and pride that goes into making traditional folk crafts by hand is always evident in the finished article.

    What materials do you choose to work with and why?
    Wool is the only material I work with. I’m using more and more British wool, undyed and in its natural colours. I think it’s important for us as a nation to support our farmers by adding value and increasing demand for their fleeces, rather than always using merino or lambs wool.

    What makes your products special?
    I make everything myself from my cottage with love and care. I still produce some hand knit ranges that are realistically too labour-intensive to make sense on a business level, but I love making them and customers feel they are getting something really special for their money.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Natural, textural and folk.

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    Meet Zoe Glencross

    by  • 18/11/2015 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupSince swapping city life for a beautiful barn in rural Cheshire, fabric designer Zoe Glencross has learnt the art of hand-printing, launched a successful business and won the Interiors category in our 2015 My Country Business Awards – clearly the country lifestyle agrees with her! She shares her experiences with us…

    What motivated your move to the countryside?
    I had fond childhood memories of holidaying in the Devon and Cornwall countryside. We used to stay on a farm, playing in the haystack and riding on tractors. That sense of freedom was something that stayed with me. As my own children grew up, I felt it was important for them to experience it too.

    How did you get into fabric design?
    Following the move, I was inspired to create and wanted to explore designing for myself. I spotted a local printing course and thought I’d give it a go. I was hooked and spent the months to follow learning the craft of printing by hand, setting up my own little workshop at home.

    Describe the design process.
    My collections are born out of many months of sketching and hand printing. Translating my original designs into larger scale production was a real learning curve but very satisfying. I’ve been lucky enough to work with experienced British printers who’ve been so helpful and knowledgeable throughout the process. Watching the first run of fabric coming out of production was such a rewarding feeling!

    What inspires you?
    I take inspiration from the rural surroundings at home and in North Devon. The movement, light and texture of rural wildlife and landscapes is something I’ve tried to capture in my prints.

    What do you love most about the country lifestyle?
    We are lucky enough to have great country walks on our doorstep. A walk in the countryside is a great tonic when your mind is full and you need to make important business and life decisions.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Textural, hand sketched and evolving.

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    Love a colourful bobble hat!

    by  • 08/11/2015 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_groupHelen Pillot de Chenecey is the talented lady behind Craft Revolution, which encompasses a range of creative outlets for people including various craft clubs and workshops and delivering creative initiatives in local schools. She’s also created a beautiful bobble hat collection… phew! Luckily for us, she’s found time in her busy schedule to share her story, starting with a lifelong love of knitted textiles…

    How did you get into knitting?
    I was taught as a child by the real experts – my Mum, Gran and Aunty! Growing up I’d spend hours in wool shops… still do actually! Knitting has always been my ‘go to activity’ to enhance my wellbeing – everything is ok with the world if I’ve got my knitting bag!

    How did Craft Revolution come about?
    I studied constructive textile design at Central St Martins and then worked as a weaver and knitter in the trend-forecasting industry for many years. When I had my children, I saw a real thirst in them for learning how to make things well. It inspired me to start Craft Revolution 6 years ago delivering creative initiatives in schools. I discovered I enjoyed teaching as well as making things myself. Craft Revolution is my way of combining the two!

    Why bobble hats?
    I love pom-poms and have become slightly obsessed with making them! I really believe that woolly hats are such a cheery sight to see on a cold, grey day – a wobbly bobble is so comical!

    What wool do you choose to knit with any why?
    For my recent Seafarer-inspired range (developed for the Campaign for Wool in suppport of the Mission to Seafarers’ charity) I worked with a beautifully soft British Aran wool. I found the perfect palette and Aran is a classic yarn that’s been used for centuries to make Seafarer’s hats and jumpers. It was perfect!

    What do you love about British wool?
    I know it sounds clichéd but I love products with a strong story of quality craftsmanship, especially a sustainable one. British Wool is a compelling story layered with generations of tradition, yet ahead of the curve in style. The unique way the fibre takes colour has always made it a favourite for me personally. I feel proud to support local industry and always look out for the British Wool mark logo!

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Vibrant, responsive and collaborative.

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    Meet Kate Heiss

    by  • 28/10/2015 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_KATE_HEISSFrom her allotment-based studio in rural Hertfordshire, Kate Heiss produces bold and beautiful wall art using a range of techniques, from lino cutting to screen-printing. Hellebore (above) is our favourite, inspired by the little blackbird that pops by her studio everyday!

    How did you get into printmaking?
    I worked as a textile designer for many years in London before moving out to Hertfordshire with my young family. It felt like a natural progression from textile design to explore printing as an art form. The Curwen Print Study Centre was local and offering fabulous courses in printmaking, where I learnt techniques such as etching, linocut, screen-printing, drypoint and collagraphs. I was instantly gripped, I loved it!

    What’s your workspace like?
    My studio overlooks my allotment so I have the robins and blackbirds for company! I love to surround myself with colour and patterns. I have a huge pinboard above my desk, which is ever changing and evolving with snippets of inspiration. Most of the time I have washing lines pegged with prints from corner to corner of the room, too.

    What inspires you?
    Wild walks in the countryside, pebbles on the beach, old textiles and vintage nature books. My particular favorite is The Nature Lover’s Book by Enid Blyton. It’s a series of stories of nature walks through the seasons, beautifully written and illustrated, cataloguing the flora and fauna of each month.

    Describe the making process. 
    After sketching out my ideas I intricately cut a lino tile with my design. I ink the tile, place my paper on it and wind it through my press. I love the anticipation of what will appear on the paper – it’s never quite what you expect!

    What’s your favorite thing about the countryside?
    I love to hear and see the geese flying in over the marshes in Norfolk.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Dynamic, vibrant and illustrative.

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    Meet Clarissa Hulse

    by  • 21/10/2015 • Country business • 0 Comments

    Ready_Clarissa groupOpulent, tactile and strikingly beautiful, textile designer Clarissa Hulse’s nature-inspired silk homewares tick all the boxes when it comes to elegant country style. She details her journey to becoming one of Britain’s leading textile designers…

    What made you want to become a designer?
    I’ve always loved working with fabrics and studied textiles at university. After graduating, I started up a business, more by accident than design, selling fashion accessories. I decided to print some scarves to sell so I could raise a little money to pay for materials and the space I was renting. Before I knew it I had sold out and had orders in from Barney’s in New York and Liberty in London! I ran the business for 10 years but always wanted to branch out into interiors. I find it less fickle – people buy pieces for their homes that they really love and want to live with for years.

    What’s your workspace like?
    Big, light, airy and pretty messy! We have an office area, a design section and then a big print table for making samples. I use one of the walls to pin up my inspiration and create a huge mood board.

    What inspires you?
    My designs come from the natural world, so no matter how busy we are I make sure I take the time to visit the countryside, coast and the beautiful gardens of the UK.

    What’s your favourite piece?
    I am most proud of the hand-printed scarves that I made when I first started my business. Each piece was a one-off and a real work of art. Having orders from Barney’s and Liberty gave me the confidence to continue designing and creating collections in my signature style.

    Describe your design process.
    All my work is based on photographs of plants, which I take wherever the opportunity presents. I then work on the images back in the studio on the computer, put it into repeat and make silk screens. It’s great fun playing around with different prints and colours. I prefer working directly onto cloth; you get a completely different effect compared with digital printing. It’s much more tactile and painterly.

    What’s next?
    I would love to do a book! In the short term I’m really keen to develop my collection of kitchen textiles. I’m also launching a new collection of fabrics and wallpapers featuring my signature botanical motifs.

    Sum up your creative style in three words.
    Bold, colourful and botanical.

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    Meet a woodland hero

    by  • 19/10/2015 • Country business, Country style • 0 Comments

    Grown in BritainLast week, saw Grown in Britain celebrating and promoting our native woods and forestry; the people who work in them and use the wood from them.

    Furniture designer, Ted Jefferis, is one of these people. Ted lives and works in an ancient oak woodland in West Sussex and in 2013 he set up his own furniture making business, TedWood, using beautiful British hardwoods to create bespoke tables (see the TipToe table, above), benches and storage.

    Grown in Britain‘When I pick out a dusty board of British timber,’ says Ted. ‘I know that beneath the surface will be wood that is full of character and intrinsic beauty. I also know that by choosing British timber one is supporting a sustainable future for our priceless British woodlands.’

    Check out Ted’s beautiful designs here.

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    Head to an independent country cinema

    by  • 16/10/2015 • Country business, Country moment • 0 Comments

    Three of the best country cinemasIndependent cinema is thriving in the country villages and small towns of the UK. A major backlash against the proliferation of the multiplexes, these small, and often privately owned, picture houses are about watching great cinema in unique and interesting spaces. From converted barns and abandoned churches to defunct libraries and Victorian railway stations, film-loving entrepreneurs are resurrecting the pleasures of watching mainstream and art house films locally, as well giving access to live theatre from the likes of the Royal Opera House and National Theatre. Take a look at our favourites in Suffolk, Devon, North Yorkshire and East Sussex…

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