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 rhythmically handwoven piece. In her down-to-earth way, Liz’s passion for what she does began over thirty years ago, and she has been building relationships with her customers and suppliers since. 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 her colour loving soul in magical alchemy, resulting in memorable and vibrant colours.
Undoubtedly hand-weaving is a slow process when compared with electrically enhanced and power looms. The ‘flying shuttle’ on Liz’s looms, was a big contributor to the development of the industrial revolution. However, this is where the similarity to the weaving mill ends. Liz’s techniques are mindful, and she runs her business based on quality; quality of the textiles she produces and quality of the life for the people weaving the scarves on the looms. The hand-weavers paint with thread and the looms are their canvas. Liz Christy’s Swallow Studios is an artisan production workshop.
Very early on Liz knew that she could not engage in a race to the bottom on price. And she knows her customer is one who appreciates the time and skill involved in creating her accessories. Her scarves have an impact on how you feel when you wear them, and they have the added advantage of keeping you warm when needed. Each piece is an individual work of art, made with care to be loved and enjoyed.
It is vital that she can stand over her work and truly guarantee that her designs are genuinely hand-woven in Ireland. And where better than the county where she was born and loves dearly, nestled among the drumlin hills. 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.
For Liz Christy and the brand that she has built up, it is essential that she can say truly, that her scarves are hand-woven in Ireland. She has trained her weavers. It is a small business with a small core team of people who make the magic happen. Hand-weaving is an age-old craft and her looms are powered by hand and foot. All her textiles have a woven selvage.
“Our scarves are the result of a series of many processes, all carried out by our hands”, says Liz when asked ‘how long does it take to make a scarf?’ Each process impacts the finished fabric. Consistency is important but because we are not machines, the variations of the human hand are part of the beauty and trueness of our work.
“As a designer hand-weaver, you know exactly where each thread will go technically. When my hand-dyed yarns are added into the mix, serendipity happens on the loom and gives us great joy as we weave and see how the yarns and colours shimmer as they are woven together.”
The hand-dyeing of the weft wool is a process that Liz undertakes on the opposite side of the workshop floor where she has her dye area set up.
How long does it take to make a scarf?…… how long is a piece of string?
It is satisfying 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.”
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