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Made To: Be Useful

Our Iteration of a Tokyo Necessity...

The "farmhouse blanket shawl"

On my way home recently I became trapped in a Tokyo commuter train for a wee bit longer than I'd planned on. While most large cities have the occasional hiccups in public transport schedules, Tokyo's rail system is renown for being on time, quiet, and very, very comfortable. As I was sitting there listening to the conductor apologise profusely over the loud speaker, I realised the train companies have officially turned the air-conditioner to full, summer time "cold AF", and after about 20 minutes of being stuck on the Keio line, I started to shiver. The woman across the aisle from me also seemed to notice the chill, and just like clockwork, she reached into her lady bag of mysteries and pulled out an item almost every clever Tokyo woman I know owns: a shawl.

I suppose you could also call this a "blankie", or a "scarf". The good ones are about 2 meters long, and made of wool or cashmere and create a nice barrier in just about any situation, whether it be the depth of a polar vortex, or an the office where the selfish menfolk keep the air conditioning set to -10C. They're functional for an autumn stroll when it's not quite cold enough for an over coat, and make great nap blankets if your child needs a bit of cozy. In the summer, they roll up small and can squeeze in snugly next to your parasol, chapstick, water bottle, sunglasses, and snack selection.

This wardrobe item is a jack, and master of all trades.

Anyway. You get my point.

When Sam and I started talking about making cloth together I had my heart foolishly set on meters and meters of tailoring cloth. While it's been an absolute joy to watch the tailoring fabric come into existence, she sat down with me at the beginning and reminded me there are other things possible with simple rectangles. Sam showed me some shawls she'd done for a company called "Uist Wool" and I decided immediately that we must have our own versions.

I wanted to try some of the knotting and tassel making for myself, so the first version is finished by me, on a dense and rustic version of the cloth we made. The handle is exactly what you'd expect of 100% Cormo, but this shawl is roughly 400 grams and will provide a wonderful layer of protection between yourself and the violently cold temperatures in the supermarket or movie theatre.

it's Perfect for curling up in an armchair on a winter morning...

And then gathering it up around your neck as a warm scarf when you head out the door.

While I don't have very many of these to sell, and in reality, I understand that there is nothing particularly special about a rectangle of fabric, I think there are a few things that are special and unique about these shawls.

First, the material is actually quite rare. 100% Cormo wool is grown in just a few places in the world, and as far as I know, no one else produces fabric from this fiber. Most of the time this wool is sold to hand spinners and wool enthusiasts who collect rare breeds. Cormo is one of the few wools that most people can wear against their bare skin according to Anne Bosche of Blackberry Ridge spinning mills.

Second: The cloth is deceptively light for a "tweed". The nature of this yarn is airy, and fine, therefore, so is the fabric made from it. It's versatile and portable, which wouldn't be the case for a "blanket" this size made out of a woolen spun hardwool.

Lastly, this shawl was designed and manufactured, from the hoof to shawl by people who truly care about every part of the process. Our sheep are well pastured, and well cared for. The mill folk are paid fairly, and enjoy their jobs. Sam's life work is fabric design and my life work is in making beautiful things.

It's from tassel end to tassel end, a labor of love, and a perfect example of the things I would like made to to produce.

If you're interested in owning one of these utilitarian wonders, visit our store to find them!

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