Thursday, 18 May 2017

Working on new outdoor trimmings

It's very rare when a new yarn comes along and you get the chance to work with it.

Bella Dura is developed in the USA and can absorb a huge amount of sunlight without fading. It is also mold resistant and unbelievably, can even be washed with bleach making it prefect for outdoor use.

When everyone else is scurrying around to bring their garden cushions indoors when it rains, if your cushions are made with Bella Dura you don't have to bother!

Produced in England on narrow gauge weaving and knitting machines, the modern factory has a huge range of different machine types to weave almost any pattern. 

These weights caught my eye, and are what weavers use to add extra weight in many of the processes. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Photos of our old factory near Cardiff

I was tidying up an old industrial metal wardrobe in our engineering room, when I came upon a file labeled 'photos'.

It was a treasure trove of images taken between the 30's to the 70's, and even included one of the factory being built on the then new Treforest trading estate, near Cardiff.  Looks like they were just finishing off the road :

We had two of these factories side-by-side, that went back a long way with the offices in the front. One factory housed our circular knitting plant and making-up division, as we produced our own fabric and made garments in those days. The other building contained our warp knitting, creels and engineering division. It was in this building that we made propeller parts for the war effort.

The photo stash was mainly concerned with creeling, which is where a 'beam' of yarn is prepared, ready to be put onto the warp knitting machine to be knitted into fabric.

These images are from the 30's or 40's, where the ladies operating the 'warpers' were watching carefully for broken threads. Once the beam was full, it would be transferred to the knitting machines behind them. 
 Repairing a broken thread :
In the 60's the factory was re-equipped with new faster warping machines. The creels (the framework that held the bobbins) were made by us, and designed by my Grandfather Harold Stanier. 

One of my first jobs in the factory was running one of these machines (that's not me in the image). The weight of the beam could be colossal, and if you saw a yarn missing in the yarn sheet you'd press the lever as fast as you could, which would put on the brakes to arrest the momentum.    
It could be that a bobbin had run out, or the thread had got snagged and broke. Mostly we were using nylon when I ran the machines, and unlike natural fibres, this attracted static so the fibres forever wanted to stick to each other and tie themselves in knots.   

To help rapidly detect broken yarns, my grandfather developed a number of yarn-break detection devices, such as the black stop-motions below :
He also created the units in front of each bobbin that were there to add tension to the yarn, and keep them under greater control. Cunningly, granddad added break detectors to these too, so broken threads were detected automatically.  
Today New House still make these units. They've changed quite a lot, but granddad would still recognize them!

Monday, 4 July 2016

Get your windows ship-shape for summer!

Does your home need a Summer holiday too? Then New House's collection of on-trend nautical blind fabrics could be for you!

From ocean-inspired stripes to seaside motifs, and in all the essential coastal colours, could be perfect for your windows.


Our in-house design team created a collection of coordinating decorative blind pulls too. Inspired by pebbles, shells, nautical knots & buoys, and made by the very best craftsmen in wood, pewter, jute and cotton. 

You don’t need to be-beside-the-sea to appreciate the charm of the coastal look.

Charlotte Farmer’s ‘Seaside fun’ also comes in matching mugs, trays, coasters and tea towels - so give your kitchen a summer makeover!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Top 10 tips when choosing a Roller Blind

Our family business was founded in 1921 so has a wealth of experience in window decoration.  We are well known as a leading creative force in the roller blind industry but we also understand that choosing the right blind for the right window can seem daunting.  So we are happy to share our years of experience with our top tips for choosing a blind  :

1. How much privacy do you need? Roller blind fabrics go from thin lace-like sheers to full-on blackouts so depending if your windows overlook a busy street or open fields, there will be something for you. 
A sheer can make an ideal daytime blind if you are overlooked, as it gives you privacy yet there will still be lots of light in your room. While a blackout is always going to be better for bedrooms, kid’s rooms or bathrooms where you need privacy and a way to block-out light.   

2.What decorative style are you looking for? Roller blinds have been used for 100’s of years so are a very traditional form of window dressing. While today there are looks for every style of interior whether contemporary apartment or cosy cottage. There is something about their discrete no-fuss simplicity that makes blinds very modern, and yet they can be coloured, patterned or textured for a more traditional look.  

We are design-leaders in textured roller blind fabrics, offering beautiful weaves, often in natural yarns which are designed to look great in both traditional or contemporary homes, like Hessian demerara or  Hopsack in grey :
3. Controlling light levels? What is the room to be used for?  Is it a media room which should be completely dark, do you want to prevent strong sunlight from fading your furnishings or is strong sunlight making your ipad/laptop difficult to read? We have a huge range of fabrics from the thinnest translucent to full blackout, with many weave densities in between. They all absorb UV and natural light, and the rule-of-thumb is that the denser the fabric or darker the colour, the more light and UV will absorb. We have technical specs on all our fabrics, so if in doubt get in touch.

4. What room is the blind going into? Are you buying a blind for a kitchen or bathroom?  Modern blind fabrics come with coatings that keep the fabric smooth and help it roll up nicely, however if your blind is in a damp or steamy environment it is always best to go for a 100% polyester fabric (like Wave, below). For elsewhere, traditional yarns like cottons or linens with interesting textures should be fine.  

5. Always consider safety for children. Loose or overlong blind & curtain cords can be a strangulation hazard for young children. So it is always best to play safe and fix cords securely to the wall with a solid cord-traps like our Halo or painted wooden devices. Alternatively, choose an inherently safe blind like a traditional spring roller, or motorised blind where there are no cords for toddlers to get caught in.

6. What is your budget?  Unlike voluminous curtains, blinds are terribly discrete and can be a less expensive choice for screening windows.  But the general rule is that the bigger the window the more expensive the cost.  Also specialist patterns such as burn-outs can be more expensive.

7. Blackouts. Blackout roller blind fabrics come in every colour so are first choice for bedrooms, kid’s rooms, or bathrooms. They are also extremely popular in high-tech media and cinema rooms, especially where the blinds can be automated or electronically controlled.

8. Measuring windows. If you are doing-it-yourself, the important measurement for blinds is always the recess width (or the max size your blind fits into including the brackets). Stay away from old-fashioned cloth tape measures, as these can stretch & shrink. If you have older windows, it can also be useful to measure at both the top and the bottom of a window, as it’s amazing how often windows are not quite as square as you think!

9. Energy saving. It’s an often overlooked fact, but a simple roller blind can be one of the easiest ways of saving energy or cutting fuel bills. A daytime blind in summer reflects sunlight and heat back out of your room keeping it cool. While in winter a blind creates an insulating airgap over the glass, keeping everything snug and warm.

10.    Accessorising your blind. Have fun dressing up your blind and give it some individual style with decorative trimmings and pulls.  Out in-house designers create more blind accessories than anyone, and we have a huge range of pulls and decorative trims in every colour to choose from. Consider adding a plain bright coloured blind pull (like our Bobbi balls) on the bottom or our modern braid, and your blind will look sensational!

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Eastnor Castle & Land Rover Experience really was quite an experience!

Every so often at New House, we get invited to an open day or some special event, and the other week were invited to Eastnor Castle and Land Rover Experience's open day.

Eastnor Castle is a great place to visit, and we've been there several times for conferences. All of them have been superbly organised and well run. It is an imposing building situated between Ledbury and Malvern and built in the Gothic style. There were a promising queue of Land Rovers outside when we arrived (in our BMW).
We took a good look round the castle, and here are a few images of the dining room, one of the lounges, the small library, main room, and bedrooms :
If you'd accidentally come out without your suit of armour, there were plenty to choose from round the castle. Handy in case a dragon puts in a sudden appearance I guess :
I'd never seen an elephant foot umbrella stand before, and glad no one makes them anymore :
This room must be the knight's cloakroom as even the horse had it's own suit of armour :
I loved these Adams Family style wall lamps :
After breakfast in one of the reception rooms, my father and I went outside to take a look at the Range Rovers. It was huge fun driving them round the assault course in the company of an experienced driver. We went down sheer drops, through muddy lanes, deep water, up staircases, and the car tilted at ridiculous angles :
Eastnor is ideal for conferences and product launches, and is definitely on the list of venues for New House's next new launch.