Liz Christy, designer handweaver 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, sometimes in uncommon fibre combinations. 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’s handwoven scarves will become tomorrow’s heirlooms.
Swallow Studios is the name given to Liz Christy’s hand-weaving workshop in Annayalla, Co Monaghan. When Liz and her husband Pat bought their cottage in 1991, swallows had taken up residence in the out houses, hence they called it Swallow Cottage. So when the workshop was built beside the house in 2004, it inherited the name and Swallow Studios came into being. It is a colourful gem surrounded by rolling hills and hidden lakes. In years since, it has become a popular attraction for visitors to the area. In the traditions of Ireland’s Ancient East, Liz is always delighted to welcome tourists. They can see hand-dyeing and hand-weaving in progress, and Liz is known to entertain her visitors with a story or two. Friendliness and authenticity features alongside colour as the long lasting memories from a visit to Swallow Studios.
Swallow Studios is located just outside Castleblayney, and it is an attraction for locals and visitors alike where they see the craft of hand-weaving come alive. What makes the studios an interesting place to visit is that as well as being able to buy Liz Christy Scarves, you will see them being created in the workshop. If Liz is dyeing wool in her unique style, she is happy to demonstrate. You may hear the clacking of the flying shuttle or you may see the quiet concentration of threading a loom. 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 are really amazed at how it all happens and the time involved. They leave with an appreciation of what is involved in making this ‘wearable art’. Liz’s hope is that they enjoy the friendly and informative visit to the drumlins of Monaghan.
For Liz 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 weaver you know exactly where each thread will go but when my hand-dyed yarns are woven into the mix, you never know exactly what the finished piece will look like or how the yarns and colours will shimmer as they are woven together. It is these creative surprises that happen on the loom which give us great joy as we weave. As well as a quality hand-crafted scarf, there is a touch of the mystical in the finished piece.”
The Studios Shop
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.
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 she will be happy to open and demonstrate on the loom, if available.
Phone number: +353 (0)429746614
Email Address: email@example.com