Sunday, 30 June 2013

One Swedish Summer house

I've often gone to Sweden for work (as many of New House's high-quality fabrics and homewares are manufactured to high environmental standards there), but this was my first real Swedish holiday and I got to see a lot of the countryside.

Sweden is twice the size of the UK but with only 9 million people, it's so uncrowded and you drive for miles seeing nothing but trees and lakes with only a few red-painted houses or little farms in between. It's very beautiful.

I drove to Höga kusten (or the High Coast) which is a delightful area full of high hills with steep valleys that have either lakes, or deep Baltic sea-water inlets at the bottom. I was happy, as a good chum Annika, had invited me to stay, and had also just opened a new design gallery in Omne.

The bridge to Höga kusten :
My friends summer house :
I loved her little hut (and it's view) :

It'd not been decorated in years and had some great 60's or 70's wallpaper :
 I also loved the original kitchen in the main house :
For those who believe in location, location, location, I took these pics within 500yds of my chums house. From what I saw of Sweden, much of the countryside looks like this.....

The back garden :

The nearby Baltic :
The local lake :

Annika's new design gallery :

Teija Bruhn - who has 95 outlets in Japan and is one of Scandinavia's great designers opened the show :

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Midsummer in Dalarna, Sweden

The Swedes love Midsummer more than Christmas - who can blame them?

The region of Dalarna is a few hours north of Stockholm, and as Sweden's spiritual home they take the Midsummer Festival seriously. I travelled with two old chums, and stayed in a charming B & B just outside Rattvik about 500m from Lake Siljan :
Sweden is so beautiful, and a fantastic place to go for walking, cycling or swimming in their many clean unpolluted lakes.

Midsummer has its roots in Pagan times and is always held on a Friday, close to the Summer Solstice the longest day of the year. It's a pleasure to see so many Swedes dressing in traditional costumes, young girls with garlands of wild flowers in their hair, and even the dogs get all dressed up for the occassion (well, some of them) :
Houses, cars, petrol pumps and even tractors get decorated with birch, as does the Maypole :
The serious business of raising the Maypole began at about 7pm :
Once it was up the dancing began :  
A procession round the village began soon after :
But it was then that we saw the locals drop off at their homes for their slap-up Midsummer Feast, leaving only us and other tourists, that we realised that every resturant or cafe was shut and even the supermarket had closed early. It started to pour with rain too.
Message to The Swedish Tourist Office.... leave a few resurants open
We had a car, and 10 miles out of Rattvik found the only place open - a petrol station. The lovely cheerful girl running it sold hotdogs so we joked 'what's the Midsummer Chef Special?'
'Well...' she said in perfect English 'I have just made roast beef and potato salad', and under the petrol station canopy she brought us extra plates of traditional herring and breads to taste. It was amazing.
Our lovely petrol station chef (if anyone desrves a Michelain star, she does) :

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Saw something good last week...

Laura and I were invited to one of the UK's largest roller blind companies Eclipse and their Keighley weavers, Invent, and had a great visit.

Both facilities are world-class, and were impressive to see.

You really feel the power of industry at a weaving plant, as air vibrates to the melody of these big machines while they form yarns into cloth with huge precision. Laura is new house's weave specialist so we've been to many a weave plant together, but have never seen one as tidy or lint free as Invent. 

Creating a new design on CAD :
To make a weave you must manufacture the 'warp' first. This is a Swiss-made Benneger sectional warper (one of the best) which draws yarns from the creel to make the warp : 

These are German Dornier machines controlled with British Bonas Jacquards :
Invent also have a number of Picanol dobby weaving machines. Dobby's are always New House favourites as they produce a much simpler fabric than a jacquard, and basic honest-to-goodness warms our hearts the most.
These machines are very advanced and even self-repair any broken yarns :
Changing the warp :
Finished woven fabric off to the coating line in Glasgow :