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Autumn richness in the Ribeira Sacra

autumn vines in the village

autumn vines in the village

November 2009.  

Perhaps you would think that a wet, rainy November here in the Ribeira Sacra doesn´t sound much like fun, but for those of us who live here this is a fantastic month for foraging.  This is the time for collecting sweet chestnuts to roast over the open fire – and even if, like us, you don´t have a chestnut grove of our own – you can fill a couple of baskets up with chestnuts that have fallen on the roadside or onto the trackways.  The best way to cook sweet chestnuts is over an open fire but you can oven-roast them too.    We find that if you leave the chestnuts a few days they dry out slightly and taste sweeter than when completely fresh. 

October and November is also the season for wild mushroom picking and this year has been a bumper year.  The mild temperatures and rain have made for an extra long mushroom-picking season.  There is nothing as exciting as going out into the fields and woods with a few of Lluis´ baskets looking for wild funghi is one of our favourite autumn occupations.  Here in the Ribeira Sacra – unlike the UK where laws of trespass limit your enjoyment of this traditional country pursuit – you are free to pick wild mushrooms in fields and woods – unless they have animals in, have closed gates or fences. 


 

dried fairy ring and cep mushrooms for winter stews

dried fairy ring and cep mushrooms for winter stews

We pick the locals´ favourite, the parasol mushrooms, but also anis-scented horse mushrooms which are good for freezing – no need to blanch or sauté first –  and fairy ring mushrooms and ceps which we dry.  All these go into the rich winter stews which we make from local beef and red wine.  We do our winter cooking in the earthenware cooking pots still made locally by hand which are wonderful to use and look far nicer than industrial saucepans (not that easy for our cottage guests to take back home as souvenirs but those that do are rewarded for their efforts).   

autumn view from est tex y c2aThe autumn colours here are wonderful at this time of year.  Flame-coloured vineyards cheer up even the greyest november days here and on sunny days we are rewarded by the sight of the autumn oak trees turning gold all over the hillsides.    The grass is now lush and green, fully recovered from the heat of summer which reduced it to straw. 


 

autumn colours and natural dyed linen scarf

autumn colours and natural dyed linen scarf

The colours of nature here  always inspire me and so it is no wonder that some of the autumn colours find their way into the hand-dyed woven textiles made at the textile studio. 


 


 

  • Ref.  Bubble Scarf (Rainbow II)  SOLD
  • 19cm x 180cm + fringe
  • Materials:  Linen, hand-dyed with natural dyes, undyed linen, fine wool
  • Washing Instructions:  Gentle hand-wash in warm water. 
  •  Description:  This unusual one-of-a-kind scarf is a double-weave textile – a complex weave with the cloth woven in two separate layers which takes twice the time to hand-weave compared to a conventional scarf.  This double-weave construction, using linen in combination with a very fine wool yarn, gives the piece a deliciously crinkly texture which means that, despite being 75% pure linen, it won´t wrinkle.  The gently glowing colours are the result of hand-dyeing using natural dyes, some of which are from local plants cultivated or collected sustainably near AC Textile Studio (north Spain) where the piece was hand-woven.   After a gentle hand-wash you have the option of ironing the piece or not.  Ironing will make the piece flatter – and wider – whilst leaving the piece un-ironed will enhance the crinkly texture of the scarf.   This scarf is unique and non-repeatable.
  •  Price:  120 pounds + 6.50 pounds p&p (to UK / Europe)
  • How to buy:  email lluisyanna@terra.es


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Linen Herb Sacks for Hand-woven Christmas Gifts

Linen herb sacks from Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in Galicia Spain

Linen herb sacks from Anna Champeney Estudio Textil in Galicia Spain

Here  you can see my limited edition of mini stripey Herb Sacks with locally-grown lemon verbena (for lovely lemony herbal tisanes) for sale as christmas stocking fillers …   or fun presents for ecologically-minded friends or family members as well as  textile lovers! 

The sacks are inspired by the traditional hand-woven Spanish farm versions – which some of my neighbours still use in fact.   Until the 1950s or 1960s there were many hand-weavers in my area of north Spain (Galicia) and sacks were part of their everyday repertoire.  But now I´m the only hand-weaver in the region now – and I´m  not even Spanish in origin – but from Norfolk (UK)! 

natural lemon verbena tisane 

natural lemon verbena tisane

In the past all the linen was home-grown and spindle-spun – just imagine the hours of work involved in that!  Now, to make the sacks as authentic as possible I source a special rustic linen which is un-treated with bleaching or dyeing chemicals – it still smells of plant in fact and has bits of woody  flax stem embedded in it.   I´m lucky to have this yarn as I don´t think it´s made any more – I bought up old stock.

The traditional, full-sized stripey sacks were used for anything and everything – from transporting rye and sweet chestnuts – my area is full of ancient groves of sweet chestnuts.   Once  you´ve finished the lemon verbena herb you can use the sacks for lots of other uses – we have one in our bathroom for our toothbrushes and toothpaste instead of a yucky toothpaste glass!) but they are equally good for clothes pegs, herbs and spices, nicknacks, letters …   

Herb sacks are ideal environmentally-friendly gifts for Hispanophiles and textile-lovers everywhere

101 uses around the home


Each sack is differently coloured with natural dyes, many of which I grow in my garden or are from local plants which are super-abundant and which  I can collect sustainably – such as dock leaf root, onion and walnut, gorse, I also use logwood with copper for rich deep blacks, indigo for blues. 

 

Note (June 2010)  –  All herb sacks featured here are SOLD but more will be available by summer 2010 – in colourways shown below and in 2 sizes – small (as shown here) and large (approx. 65cm x 42 cm)

Traditional linen farm sacks made by AC Estudio Textil in north Spain are faithful re-interpretations of the hand-woven rustic linen farm sacks used by Galician farmers in the Ribeira Sacra region.  The sacks are now only made at the studio, in different sizes.







Herb Sack Information:

  • Size: 18 x 22cm (approx.)
  • 75% linen, 25% wool with natural dyes
  • Tisane – Add 1.5 tsp of herb to 1 cup of boiling water for a relaxing cup of herbal tisane
  • Every sack is different – with different colourways and traditional stripe designs – because every one is individually hand-woven from Anna Champeney Estudio Textil´s ever-changing stock of natural dyes.
  • Machine washable on wool cycle 30ºC.  Gentle or no spin cycle.  Iron when lightly damp
  • Price: 25 pounds + 2.50 pounds p&p (for UK & rest of Europe) 
  • To buy contact:  lluisyanna@terra.es

 



Natural Linen Yarn for eco-towels, traditional farm sacks and scarves


 


 


 

camino de tierra de anna champeney estudio textil

camino de tierra de anna champeney estudio textil

November 2009!

  A new order of soft grey and creamy white linen yarn arrives on a pallet, wheeled along the last 50m of the grassy track which leads to my Textile Studio in Cristosende, rural north Spain.

 

 

 


Anna with linen yarn

Anna with linen yarn


Some of the natural linen yarn will be dyed by hand with natural dyes to be woven up as limited edition linen scarves.  But the white and grey un-dyed linen is ideal for the hand-woven linen towels, flannels, cushions and rustic Galician farm sacks and bags.  Dyeing all the yarn myself, naturally, (and then weaving by hand) means more environmentally-friendly textiles and I no longer buy chemically-coloured linen.  This, in turn, means I can buy the natural linen in bulk directly from my supplier.  Buying direct saves a little money – and in turn, enables me to pass on this saving to my clients when they buy my work.


 

Handspun yarn in Galicia – Up until around the 1950s many rural Galician women spindle spun their own linen yarn by hand which was completely organic and ecological but sadly this is simply not economically viable for professional weavers today.  Using industrial yarns is not always an easy option either though, for it is becoming increasingly hard for hand-weavers to source quality linen yarns today at reasonable prices.  Most yarn companies generally only sell in industrial quantities, but importing from specialist, small-scale hand-weaving yarn suppliers (often in countries such as Britain or Finland) can work out very expensive.


 

I´m lucky that my yarn supplier, Mario Monfort, based in Catalunya, is willing to sell natural linen to me in “small quantities” (about 15 kilos).  This is more than enough for my limited studio production.  To give you an idea of what 15 kilos of linen yarn can make – I could produce 85 large linen scarves, 90 linen hand-towels, 300 miniature farm sacklets or …. 500 flannels !  That means weeks of patient dyeing, loom preparation, weaving and cloth finishing.


 

linen towels toallas de lino

linen flannels and hand-towels

If you think I use just one kind of grey and white linen in my textiles then you may be surprised to know that I have over 10 different thicknesses and qualities.  Choosing the right linen yarn for each weaving project is very important;  even small changes in thickness can make a lot of difference to a hand-woven textile.  I use plied yarns (2 or more strands) for greater flexibility but I love singles (one strand yarn) for their sheen and liveliness.  The more twist a linen yarn has the stronger they are but  are less soft.  So they are ideal for farm sacks but not so useful for soft, draping scarves.  I always think carefully about which yarns to use for each of my designs and the combination of different yarns is one way I make the textiles unique to my Textile Studio.


 

workshop kitten examines the yarn

workshop kitten examines the yarn

But, as you can see from the photo, our workshop kitten is a rather too fond of linen yarn herself, so I´d better stop “spinning yarns” and tidy it away….


 

FACTFILE

Natural linen textiles woven by hand in Galicia – Anna Champeney Estudio Textil –  www.annachampeney.com and www.artesaniadegalicia.org (in Galician and Spanish – click on catalogs en liña)

Linen Yarn for Weavers – Available by post from Anna Champeney Estudio Textil (payment by bank transfer or sterling cheque).  The Studio usually has about 10 different thicknesses of natural and white linens including fine singles (ideal for collapse weave) and finer numbers, including 12/2, for linen towels or curtaining.  The studio does not stock thicker linen yarns for carpet warp, however.   The studio can make up a sample card for you which costs 5 euros. 

 Loom weaving with linen –  So you think weaving with linen is difficult?  Anna Champeney, the maker of hand-woven textiles in north Spain, has successfully taught hand-weaving with linen – (even to complete beginners)!  Contact the studio for details about holiday tuition available for guests and holiday rentals at – Casa dos Artesans, the charming self-catering cottage situated next to the studio in an idyllically-situated Spanish village.