Sunday, August 26, 2012

About cotton, friends and a knotty mind

Does it happen to you that sometimes you keep on thinking something so much that you feel like your whole head is full of tight knots which need opening? Happens to me, and yesterday it caused a migraine, which is why this promised post is coming out later than promised. Sorry about that.

Well, usually those knots loosen when you talk to one of those dear old friends, who know everything about you, cry with you, even when they think you are overreacting, and still love you. I am extremely blessed to have such friends, and don't know, how I could manage without them. Poorly or not at all, is my guess.

Now that got that migraine story out ;), should I say why about cotton? Like Ville Tolvanen wrote last winter (in Finnish) 'You rarely meet a person who is as spaced out about different cotton qualities or materials that are sustainable ....'. I LIKE materials, they interest me, like the terms

1. organic cotton
2. fair-trade cotton and
3. recycled cotton

We are planning to increase the selection of Cottonhut, our own brand, and the discussions with the producers are on-going. You would think it is easy to pick which cotton, but noooo, more knots that you can think of! I would love to have OEKO-TEX certified (no harmful substances used in the production), organic fair-trade cotton, while not compromising on the quality, of course.

Well, you may very well guess the price then for the end-customer (you!) - the organic OEKO-TEX certified cotton is not an issue, but having it fair-trade is. WHY, oh why... We'll find some compromise eventually, perhaps wait 'til we have large enough market for these 100% feel-good products meaning enough people to pay the premium, or find a partner to work with, or something. But it is no wonder there aren't too many products like this available in the market, and if there are, they are crazy expensive.

If you are interested in reading more about organic cotton, fair-trade cotton and recycled cotton, you find some very condensed information below. I've added some of those 'knots' ;), would be very happy to hear your thoughts, as well!

Organic cotton - without going too much into detail, you can read more @, producing organic cotton doesn't mean only replacing synthetic fertilizers and pesticides with organic ones.You need a 2-year conversion program going from conventional to organic production, and you'll need to find a cotton variety which is adapted to the local environment - climate, soil, pests and diseases and so forth. An alarming fact is that the production of organic cotton has DROPPED 35%, and Textile Exchange is expecting at least a further 5% decrease in the production. What?? Cotton is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world, accounting for 25% of all pesticide use worldwide, so you would think there would be some strong subsidies addressed to to the farmers who move to organic cotton, but apparently not.

As 70% of the world's organic cotton is produced in India, it is not hard to think what is happening to the farmers and their workers there - the price difference between organic and conventional cotton end-products is not that large, but I would think that the produced quantities for a single farmer must be very different. Why else all the pesticides? When the consumer isn't paying for the difference, who is?

Fair-trade cotton - The world cotton market is influenced by the subsidies OECD members - and in particular by the US and EU countries - provide to their producers. These subsidies led to overproduction and the worldwide collapse in prices. Producers in the North (125,000 farmers) receive support while the weakest in the South are confronted with crippling problems (10 million farmers). The consequences of these policies include debt, unemployment and extreme poverty. Fairtrade helps to break this cycle and to protect farmers through a combination of minimum prices and Fairtrade and organic premiums.

In this changing world of ours which emphasizes human-rights and the right to dignified life, it is hard to understand why there is cotton production which is not fair-trade AND organic, why do we need the term 'fair-trade', but I guess those wheels are slow to turn. Someone very close to me works in the international corporate world, and he is really seeing this trend - the shareholders are still, of course, keen on increasing the profit, but more and more not at the cost of human beings and the environment. Times HAVE changed!

Recycled cotton - a cotton fabric which has been made from recovered cotton that would otherwise be cast off during the spinning, weaving and cutting process. (the above wash cloth I crocheted the other night is made of Novita's Hanko yarn, 50% recycled cotton.)

Like said above, as well, I would love to hear your view on this topic.

puuvilla, ökotex standardi, orgaaninen puuvilla, reilun kaupan puuvilla, reilu kauppa, kestävä kehitys

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vietnamese silk from Fabric Copenhagen

Not so simple to get on the front cover of ELLE DECOR? No, but Annette with her Fabric Copenhagen textiles managed. Her products made by a family business in Vietnam are so delicious...Of course I have soft spot in my heart for everything that is made in Vietnam or coming from Vietnam because of my childhood years there, but I can't imagine not loving these products even if they didn't bring back all the warm memories.

Fabric Copenhagen was created during a trip to Vietnam 10 years ago. Back then textile designer Annette Egholm discovered not only Vietnam's natural beauty, unique culture and friendly people, but at a local market, she found a silk fabric that was so beautiful and soft that she just had to have it. 

Back in Denmark, she began to create a design for the material and the idea for the most delicious pillows and blankets was born.  And they are just wonderful, aren't they?

You can find the throws and cushions in Weranna's ethnic collection, the luxury ethnic beauties are a true passion for me at the moment. You fancy something you don't see there - just drop me an email from the shop. We are getting some new colors, hopefully already next week (might get a bit of hint on these photos ;) ;)) - stay tuned!

silkkinen torkkupeitto, samettinen torkkupeitto, samettipeitto, samettityyny

Monday, August 20, 2012

Positive Energy splash from Skogsbo Trädgårdscafe

Skogsbo gård, Bromma, Sweden

On Saturday I visited a summer wonderland - Skogsbo Gård in Skogsbo Bromma (more coordinates: Stockholm, Sweden ;)). Did you write that down? If you didn't, DO!

Skogsbo gård, Bromma, Sweden

The project that has been started only this year, and already is offering us the positive energy splash seen on their Facebook page and here, is just wonderful! It is such an interesting project that I will be following it in my blog closely, how an old old villa by a lake turns into a cafe-yoga-interior-design feel-good haven - enjoy the outdoor photos for now my beautiful readers ;). And be sure to visit Skogsbo when in Stockholm - It is absolutely gorgeous!

Skogsbo gård, Bromma, Sweden

Yes - I especially liked the chairs... ;)

Skogsbo gård, Bromma, Sweden

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fall and Winter 2012 trends at Formex

Formex, the largest show on interior design in Scandinavia, is going on until tomorrow, but I thought to give you a little glimpse to what was new and what seemed to remain the same - at least what were the changing trends my eyes caught.

COLORS - Petrol, Heather and Aubergine - from the brightest to the lightest. Brown seemed to be the new black, as the black was present mixed with the trend colors - more about that later  - I thought to post A LOT about color during September. My crazy mathematical mind loves the NCS  - Nordic Color System it is called. You'll see what I mean :).

MATERIALS - lots of linen, velvet and leather. Linen cushions and all kinds of home textiles. LAMP SHADES made of Asian baskets (this was hilarious!! - remember my DIY lampshade in Werannas Facebook? That style.) For example Watt&Veke had this kind of pendant in their selection, made of split bamboo.

TEXTURES - continued to be on the rough side, and also lots of ruffle and smocking. Just TEXTURE,  whatever kind.

PATTERNS - Ethnic. Batik, IKAT etc. Traditional patterns from all over the world, I would say.

PECULIARITIES? I call them such, if they make me smile. If they make me go 'hmmm, interesting...' I usually don't mention in my blog...

- storage boxes covered with knitted textures. Beautiful and such a wonderful DIY idea!!
- Rag rugs made of leather - they have been there before, as well, but this year really seemed to have spread. Unfortunately still the quality seemed to be a little off, as for a lasting rag rug you need to use very long rags, but the idea itself is fantastic.
- Other home decor items made of rag rug

syksyn trendit 2012, sisustustrendit, trendivärit, sisustusmessut

Monday, August 13, 2012

Portobello road market

I mostly enjoy calm colors around me - pebblestones style. Different hues of brown, grey, white, pink, lavender.

But sometimes - a true color inspiration is in place! Here I had such a hard time deciding whether to look up or down or something in between...added with sunny +24 C, some reggae music and the scent of Belgian waffles one could say that all the senses got exactly what the doctor ordered...

Luckily I was a bit short of time - otherwise 1 container would've not been enough to bring home all the things I stopped to admire...

The above shop, Rezai Persian Carpets, was (of course ;)) the one I spent the longest time in...admiring his IKAT and Suzani textiles...and had a really nice chat with him, as well.

Yes, without any doubt, Portobello road became one of my very favorite places on earth. LIKE. LIKE. LIKE.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Notting Hill love

Everyone, well at least ALMOST everyone, knows the movie Notting Hill with Hugh Grant as the goofy travel book store owner William Thacker and Julie Roberts as a famous movie star named Anna Scott? They fall in love after Will spills his orange juice all over Anna and so forth. Well, I've seen the movie 72 thousand times and have thought every time doing so that I HAVE to visit Notting Hill. And finally got a chance to do so couple of weeks back :).

Even the walk to Portobello road market (next post about the road itself...) from the tube made me smile :) (following the instructions of a hand-written 'sign' taped on a wall saying something like 'Portobello market first right and second left') . Look now!!

I could so happily live behind any of these gates or doors...eye candy 100%.

I bet all the people here smile all the time and carry their groceries in brown paper bags and live happily ever after with their family :) :).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

just wondering - what do we mean by Ethnic?

Remember my trip to Istanbul a couple of weeks back? Have I even written about my visit to Istanbul?? Perhaps not. Okay, here we go then. I am SO behind with my posts.

Istanbul is a city where east meets west (literally, sitting on 2 different continents), my dear Istanbul which I could easily call my hometown. Had 2 full days to visit some friends and the usual stores and whole-sellers I usually visit. And made a few new friends, as well! Always a pleasure.

One of the new interesting acquintances is the owner of Sofa Art & Antiques - if you visit Grand Bazaar, drop into their store. It is right there between Starbucks and one of the entrances. BEAUTIFUL pieces (these hand-made pomegranates were a true must have in the store...). The owners are true enthusiasts and gladly share their knowledge with you.

We had a really nice chat and I was telling him we are making a small collection of ethnic items to Weranna's Warehouse and how I love the Turkish antiques and especially the antique textiles. He was so happy to meet someone who appreciates their culture (they were using tiara's while we were still wearing seal-skins or something here in Scandinavia, so really, no problem there) and made me promise I would write something nice about the traditional Ottoman pieces. Of course :)!

And afterwards I started thinking - what is Ethnic? What is my ethnic group? If someone looks at Finland, what do they see as 'ethnic'? Is it the chip baskets and the rag rugs and the bark bushels? Felt boots and reindeer hides? Do I add those to the ethnic section then, as well? Perhaps should just drop the name 'Ethnic' and call it 'Traditional beauties of the world' or something more suitable. Need to think about it.

But, but, but - Pomegranate. What is it about pomegranate and the Ottoman culture? Pomegranate is assumed to have originated in Iran and Afghanistan. The fruit was a holy symbol and symbolized the soul's immortality and the perfection of nature. Along with olive, dates and fig trees, the pomegranate tree is one of the four holy trees of Islam.

The pomegranate plant is evergreen throughout the year. Many holy scripts of different religions refer to the pomegranate seed, pay tribute to the beauty of the blooming pomegranate and the taste of its fruit, making it the symbol of prosperity and fertility.

Newly weds in Anatolia and the Middle East are still served pomegranates to bless them with a lot of offspring. For Muslims the pomegranate is also a symbol of beauty, and Prophet Mohammed advised pregnant women to eat pomegranates if they wanted beautiful children :).

Beautiful symbolism and beautiful pieces, eller hur?