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We take a look at Welsh brand FelinFach and discover how heritage is at the heart of everything they do
In these days of fast fashion and throw-away society, many people are choosing instead to embrace more mindful crafts and develop more respect for traditional skills and heritage crafts.
FelinFach is a company that lives by a set of three simple ideals – Natural, Traditional, Handmade.
Their Welsh blankets are at the very heart of their business, fulfilling all three of the company's goals and helping to bring traditional crafts to a modern audience.
Wales is a country in the UK with an incredibly rich history of heritage crafts, especially when it comes to hand weaving. While advances in industry and consumer demand have led to cheaper textiles being mass produced, there are still a few mills producing high quality textiles in the traditional way.
FelinFach’s Welsh blankets are produced in these historic mills in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, produced on original looms from the 1930’s. Each blanket is made from 100% new wool and woven by hand – a skill that is becoming increasingly rare.
But it’s not just in the production where FelinFach honour their Welsh heritage. As well as having names inspired by the Welsh landscape and villages, many of their blankets are made using traditional weaving patterns, such as the Caernarfon Portcullis design. This Welsh blanket features a grid-style design that looks like castle gates.
While FelinFach takes great pride in their Welsh blankets and being an official member of Heritage crafts, they also have another passion – sustainability!
As well as being made from 100% natural wool (which is biodegradable), the historic mill where the blankets are weaved is powered by a water wheel.
They also use zero carbon shipping for their products, which are sent in biodegradable, recyclable and 99.99% plastic free packaging.
Plus there’s even an extra eco-bonus – for every product you order from their website, they'll plant one tree in their FelinFach forest!
It’s not just for sentimentality that preserving traditional crafts is important. The skills of the weaver were normally picked up as an apprentice and would become a lifelong career, sometimes being passed down the generations. With technological advances in fabric production, it’s more important than ever to ensure these skills and knowledge are preserved.
The weaving itself is also a product of history. There’s a reason why clothes and textiles used to last longer, and that was entirely due to both the material and construction.
Wool is an amazing natural fibre, and even with the many advancements in synthetic materials it still holds up (and regularly out-performs them) when it comes to wear.
Wool also naturally absorbs moisture when damp, and releases it when dry. This means it essentially cares for itself and needs very little, if any, washing (it’s generally advisable to dry clean 100% wool items).
The use of 100% wool in hand-woven textiles also adds an extra dimension of longevity. The fibres of wool felt together and when combined with the precision weave create a sturdy and solid fabric that can last for generations.
This is why a blanket from FelinFach is far superior to modern textiles, and as their blankets are hand-made in limited numbers you really are getting a truly unique artisan product. They produce their Welsh blankets in a range of sizes and many of their designs are woven as double cloth blankets (meaning the pattern is the same on the back but in a contrasting tone/negative colours of the face).
If you’re a yarn-crafter, be it a knitter, crocheter, or even a weaver; FelinFach can also help you to embrace their Natural, Traditional, Handmade ethos with their own hand-dyed yarn!
Always evolving and looking for new ways to embrace traditional techniques, FelinFach uses natural dyes to create gorgeous and natural shades of yarn.
Many of the dyes used are derived from plants cultivated by FelinFach in their own natural dye garden, such as madder and weld.
One of the best ways to learn traditional skills is to get hands-on! As well as selling their own hand-dyed yarn, FelinFach also offer natural dye workshops where you can learn all about this enthralling and traditional technique first-hand.
The natural dye workshops are hosted in their purpose designed FelinFach DyeStudio with one tutor to a maximum of only 4 people, providing an intimate and practical course. The workshops are made up of six hour day sessions covering natural dyeing on either animal fibres or plant fibres, or a two day session that covers both.
There are also half-day taster sessions available if you want to find out if natural dyeing is right for you.
All the materials and equipment is provided for the workshops, plus you’ll get to take home a number of your own hand-dyed skein at the end of the day. You’ll also be provided with a very useful course file to keep, so that you can continue your yarn-dyeing journey after the workshop has finished.
The course file includes a brief history of natural dyes, all the processes you used during the workshop, along with some guidelines and recipe percentages to modify the colouring.
If you fancy giving a really special gift to a loved one, you can’t go wrong with a FelinFach gift card. They can be used to purchase any of the products on their website and start from just £10.
They would make a great gift for a knitter or crocheter that will allow them to choose their preferred yarn, or to let someone special choose their own Welsh blanket that they’ll treasure forever.
The gift cards can also be used to pay for workshops too, and we can’t think of anything better than being given the opportunity to try some natural dyeing! You could even give one to a friend as a Christmas gift so you’ve got plenty of time to organise attending a workshop together in the new year.
If you fancy giving natural dyeing a try before booking onto one of FelinFach’s workshops, we’ve got a fab eco dyeing tutorial which uses ingredients you’d easily find in most kitchens. Get creative with Gathered.
Matt Spiers is a crochet artist and designer who has been overseeing Gathered's crochet articles for over 2 years. He previously worked as Digital Assistant for Simply Crochet magazine and is our in house video editing pro. What started as a hobby a decade ago led to Matt developing a passion (and then a career) with crochet. As well as still regularly writing and designing for Simply Crochet magazine, Matt is a crochet artist in his own right, having displayed and created crochet installations at festivals and fibre events across the UK. You can keep up to date with Matt at @onemancrochet on Instagram.
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