Liz Christy, designer hand-weaver is inspired by Art, from paintings to poetry. She infuses her handwoven scarves with the hues of the changing seasons. Her colour palette echoes her surroundings; the fresh hues of springtime daffodils and bluebells, the vibrant highlights of the Irish summer landscape followed by rich shades of autumn and water-filled winter scenes.
In describing her weaving, Liz says ‘the threads pass through our hands many times during the process from start to finish’. Time is what goes into every unhurried handwoven piece. In her down-to-earth way, Liz has built relationships with her yarn suppliers over 30 years. This authenticity is woven into each scarf. Her designs feature mainly natural materials – beautiful Donegal yarns, specially spun bouclé wool and kid mohair, and locally bred Alpaca. During the hand-dyeing process, these yarns take on part of Liz’s colourful nature as she creates magical alchemy. The resulting colours are memorable and vibrant.
Each scarf is carefully hand-knotted in the old fashioned way, before hand-washing which brings out the luxurious softness of the fibres. Essentially Liz’s scarves are slow fashion, high quality and distinctive gifts to be worn and enjoyed. With care and gentle hand-washing Liz Christy handwoven scarves will become tomorrow’s heirlooms.
Liz and her husband Pat bought their cottage in the spring of 1991. By May swallows had taken up residence in the out houses, and it was clear that this had been their nesting home for a long time. Hence Swallow Cottage got it’s name. And when Liz set up her loom and started her hand-weaving business, it was in a bedroom in Swallow Cottage.
So they made the decision to build a workshop beside their cottage to house the growing family of looms. When they moved the looms in April of 2004 the swallows were swooping around the yard, getting ready to nest. So it followed that the workshop inherited the name and became Swallow Studios.
For Liz Christy and the brand that she has built up, it is essential that she can truly guarantee that her textile designs are genuinely hand-woven in Ireland and she has trained her weavers. Hand-weaving is an age old craft and her looms are powered by hand and foot and all her work has a woven selvedge.
“It is a long process”, says Liz, “we paint with thread and the loom is our canvas. The warp and weft threads pass through our hands, numerous times before the scarf is woven, washed and finished by hand. I love it when visitors to the studios see and appreciate just how much work is involved in bringing these textiles to life. Each piece is an individual work of art, made with passion to be loved and enjoyed.”
“As a designer hand-weaver you know exactly where each thread will go technically, but when my hand-dyed yarns are added into the mix, you never quite know exactly what the finished piece will look like or how the yarns and colours will shimmer as they are woven together. The serendipity that happens on the loom and give us great joy as we weave.”
Over the years since, this colourful gem, located just outside Castleblayney, has become a popular attraction for visitors to the Drumlin County. In the traditions of Ireland’s Ancient East, Liz is always delighted to welcome tourists. What makes the studios an interesting place to visit is that as well as being able to buy Liz’s beautiful scarves, visitors will see them being created through the crafts of hand-dyeing and hand-weaving. They may hear the clacking of the flying shuttles or witness the quiet concentration of threading or tieing on a warp. They will get to chat to the artisan team as they work. And Liz is known to entertain her visitors with a story or two while giving the tour.
No matter what Liz and her team is working on, she is always delighted to welcome visitors to see how it all comes together; from the hand-dyeing pots to the glorious ribbons of colour being handwoven at the manual looms. Visitors leave Swallow Studios with a new appreciation of the time and skills involved in creating wearable art and knowing that there is indeed ‘More to Monaghan’
You find special hand-crafted gifts in the shop at the studios, made by Liz or one of her artisan friends; gifts of meaning and quality, locally crafted by dedicated craftspeople.
You also find the popular LizzyC Sheep Gift Collection at their homeplace in Annayalla. Brooches, key chains, fridge magnets, Christmas ornaments and now new to the flock are the ‘The Ramblin’ Sheep’ are all available to buy in the studios shop. And now you may also customise a framed ‘Romance Sheep’ in the county colours of the newly engaged or soon to be married couple.
Opening hours are 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday. If you are coming a distance to meet Liz, please do phone first as from time to time she may be gallivanting to gather inspiration. For weekend opening call Liz on 0876821563 and if available, she will be delighted to open up and demonstrate on the loom for you.
Phone number: +353 (0)429746614
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org