It starts with a chill. A small little shiver as you step out of bed that makes you pause and think to slip on a pair of socks before you shuffle to the kitchen for your morning coffee.
Next comes the frost. Maybe you’re out for a morning run, or walking your children to school when you notice the most beautiful drop of dew frozen to a blade of grass. And this is the moment, despite all the usual signs — the changing colors of the leaves, the shorter days and longer nights, the overstock of apples and pumpkins at the market — when you realize winter is coming.
We all have our different ways of enjoying the winter. Some relish in the cold and snow, taking every free weekend to hit the slopes. Some migrate south, spending months on end in tropical locations, barely aware of their friends shivering halfway across the world. And then there are those of us who are professional hibernators.
Call us what you will, but for some of us the onset of winter means more time spent curled up inside.
And in colder climes, for those of us who find peace at home wrapped in our woolies, there are a few essentials for turning your home into a cozy sanctuary worthy of whiling away the winter months.
Below, we’ve put together our ultimate wishlist of handmade goodies that will warm up your space in an instant.
Think layer upon layer of hand-stitched pillows and blankets stacked together in natural tones. Or perhaps you could create a small nook in your room, where you sit for hours with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Your toes are warm in a pair of handknit wool socks and your pages are bathed in the soft light of a handmade lamp.
Even a short, crisp winter day can feel a bit warmer by simply adding depth to your usual tablescape. We are in love with the deep colors found in hand-dyed linen tablecloths. Try replacing your pastels from summer with a dark indigo hue, and top it with hand-dipped candles big and small, sure to bring a sense of calm to a long day snuggled up at home.
Read on to learn more about 8 European artisans hand-knitting, hand-carving and hand-dyeing their way into your home.
For more ideas for warming up in winter you might enjoy these previous edits on Locorum:
Freja Loewe traveled from Denmark to the opposite part of the planet to pursue a slower and more authentic way of creating textiles. After spending a year in Bali researching and learning about ancient techniques in natural dyes and craftsmanship, she is now working from her studio in Copenhagen. On a mission to create beautiful textiles with sustainability at the core, natural dyes made from plants and food-waste are the primary focus in the studio. Through working with local resources and honoring the experimental process, Freja seeks to produce designs that connect us to our natural surroundings in everyday life. “Nature can teach us many things — working with natural dyes allows us to be in close contact with the cycles of the season, the environment and the beautiful scents that make dyeing a mindful ritual.” Freja’s idea of a perfectly simple winter weekend morning is to snuggle under her Earthscape quilt, made from vintage and recycled cotton, and colored with dyes from indigo, logwood, St. John’s wort, cutch, pomegranate, avocado and flowers. Heavenly! We love her patchwork curtains, too.
Sometimes the simplest things bring the greatest joy. Who can resist rooms full of candlelight on these long, dark winter nights leading into the holiday season? Candles are instant mood changers. OVO Things candles are created by the hands of people who have been doing it for many years. Using pure beeswax from local Lithuanian farmers, and simple tools, “that’s the romance of the birth of a thing,” states the website. They are natural and non-toxic; no artificial color or scent is added. As a natural material, beeswax may vary in color from bright yellow and honey tones to darker shades of brown, and OVO handcrafts porcelain and wood candle holders to complement the warm ambience of the tapers.
Kathryn Davey is a sustainable, eco-friendly design studio handcrafting naturally dyed homewares and accessories. A self-taught designer and natural dyer based in Dublin, Kathryn spent quite a few years living and raising her three daughters in Northern California. “It was in the North Bay of San Francisco where I first learned about the beauty of natural dyes,” she says. “What began from a place of intrigue developed into an addiction and has since become my livelihood.” Working in a beautiful light-filled space in Harold’s Cross, “escaping from the madness of the world,” Kathryn uses pure plant extracts to hand-dye everyday, natural-fiber goods. “I spend my days dyeing indoors and if its not too wild, you’ll often find me outside in some stage of the dyeing process, with my hands in dye or hanging things to dry.” We fell in love with the Irish alpaca wool hats and the warm woolen socks, but are just as taken by the deep indigo linen tablecloth, scarves and pillow covers.
As the sun sets earlier and earlier, are you craving a cozy corner in your home where you can curl up with a good book? Manja ten Donkelaar and Sophie van der Lubbe know just how to perfectly illuminate that corner with their warm, soft felted wool lampshades. The sisters-in-law are makers, thinkers and entrepreneurs who work together in the Dutch countryside. Their shared love of textiles, nature and design are evident in the ‘wabi-sabi’ beauty of their hand-felted and hand-dyed wool lamps. Their dye garden behind the workshop yields walnut, goldenrod, cow parsley, madder root, and many other plants that color the fixtures, with pigments ranging from deep, dark browns to bright yellow-greens. In addition to the lamps, Sophie and Manja create gorgeous hand-dyed wool tapestries.
The Natural Dyeworks by Ros Humphries
The Natural Dyeworks was founded by Ros Humphries, a natural dyer living with her family in the Kent countryside. As Ros says, “It’s time to layer up with woolens,” and her hand-knit socks, dyed in warm shades of oat, rose, stone and oyster are made for relaxing winter afternoons by the fire.“We make small-batch, slow-crafted, hand-dyed ribbons, accessories and homewares using the alchemy of 100-percent plant-based dyes,” she says. Working exclusively with natural fibers, including linen, silk, wool and bamboo, Ros forages the Kent countryside for petals, leaves, bark, roots and seeds to produce an ever-evolving palette of colors. She also sources dyes from food waste collected from local cafes. Her entire process is natural, slow and sustainable … waste water is reused on the garden and allotment, dye pulp is composted which in turn feeds the soil, packaging is 100-percent plastic free. “Our palette changes with the seasons, and the spectrum of colors is dependent on the ingredients available, such as nettles in spring for cool greens, coreopsis in summer for wild oranges, hollyhocks in autumn for soft blues and alder cones in winter for burnished golds.”
Atelier Mache by Fredérique Lepinoy
If you never imagined the old papier mache creations of your school projects could be elevated into works of art, take a look at the recycled paper/cardboard ‘sculptures’ by Fredérique Lepinoy of Atelier Mache. All of the vessels are hand-shaped, naturally dyed and air-dried. The “pot families” are named for their earthy colors, including limestone, anthracite and carbon. “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed,” states the website. Filled with dried plants or flowers, the “chewed paper” pots would make a lovely seasonal tablescape, or warm up your desktop with a one-of-a-kind pot for pencils and pens.
Tessa Layzelle makes “practical paintings.” That’s how she describes her hand-stitched quilts. “Paintings as objects, paintings that disappear. Humdrum daily household objects that surprise and appear with a fold and shuffle.” In the warmer months of the year, you can find Tessa in her Yorkshire workshop coloring and painting deadstock, vintage and repurposed fabrics in small batches, creating an ever transient palette to work with. Nothing is wasted, even the smallest remnants. Composed like a painting, her quilts are designed to be comforting when folded, wrapped or thrown. And on these chilly winter nights, what could bring more comfort than a homespun quilt swaddling little ones on the couch, tossed and layered on the bed or even used as a tablecloth for the holiday dinner?
Photo credit: The Modern House
Empreintes et Matières by Isabelle Yamamoto
Isabelle Yamamoto, the creative mind and hands behind Empreintes et Matières, has a passion for vintage textiles. In fact, she has spent much of the last two years concentrating her energy on sourcing discarded materials such as old sheets, agrarian canvases and scraps to produce her bespoke, handmade hemp cushions. “I only work with natural fibers, hemp, linen, Nepalese nettle, ramie, alpaca, mohair, yak wool…depending on what I find and get to source. Raw and natural materials convey energy, I am very sensitive to them. This energy is alive.” Isabelle brings her own personal style to each piece, combining both the character of the object and the elegance of simplicity with her impeccable attention to detail. Each piece is truly unique, in that Isabelle makes a point of keeping the original form of the found fabrics, including weaving defects and fittings. But above all, she has made a point of creating each pillow in an eco-responsible way. “I think about how I could recycle and give a second life to ancient, vintage textiles, sometimes left into disuse, by offering them a modern, simple and timeless style.”