With a little help from our friends…

Time flies when you’re having fun and there’s been a lot of fun at Ash Farm in the weeks since our last newsletter.
Yet more alpacas have joined our lovely herd with our newest arrivals making 30! We are looking forward to incorporating their lovely fleeces into next year’s yarns.

Our latest yarns have been put to work on the knitting machines, inspiring new garment designs and cosy accessories. We had a wonderful time introducing the new sweaters to alpaca enthusiasts from all over Wales at the inaugural Welsh Alpaca Show in Carmarthen.

We were delighted to sponsor the first Supreme Champion Huacaya class, won by the fabulous ‘Stoneleigh Fire Dragon’. Many congratulations to the handsome chap and his proud owners, Ashwood Alpacas

Next on the calendar was CRAFT Festival (formerly Made by Hand) in Cardiff, just this weekend. Once again it was a busy weekend but so much fun to catch up with regular customers and to meet new friends. Our colourful lambswool knits remain popular favourites, but once again the new designs made from our lovely alpaca yarns attracted lots of admiration and were enthusiastically received by our customers. Thank you for your encouragement as we continue to develop our home-grown sustainable range of elegant and cosy knits.

Our Christmas get together
16th-17th November

One thing that was very clear at CRAFT Festival was that Christmas preparations are now gearing up a pace! With a little help from our friends we are doing our bit to ease the stress of all the shopping mayhem with our Christmas Open Studio, where you can find beautiful hand crafted and ethically produced gifts in a relaxed and convivial setting. There will be an opportunity to top up with delicious food provided by Paternoster Farm and drinks by Absolute Events Bars in our heated marquee to keep you going as you make those crucial purchasing decisions, whether you are looking to cross off your gift list or buying yourself a well-deserved treat.

This month, to whet your appetite, we are profiling one of our favourite makers (they are all our favourites!), Astrid de Groot.

Meet designer maker – Astrid de Groot

Astrid carves beautiful and original wooden spoons as well as turning bowls and coffee cups – all from foraged native hardwoods. She has been a self-employed joiner for 28 years, making a range of essentials from windows, doors, and gates to kitchens. Several years ago, she diversified to explore new ways of working with her favourite medium.

“I started spoon carving about 8 years ago, with the idea that I had to learn another skill for when I get older and joinery is getting too heavy for me. A little later I added bowl turning with the same idea.

The work is very different with its free style. I like both types of work; I like the challenge and technical thinking of the joinery, and the freedom of the carving and turning.

The colours I use go back to my graphic design background. I have explored painting paintings as well, but it made me too introverted. Woodwork makes me feel just right; it totally suits me.

As far as my future is concerned – it will be woodwork till I drop.”

James and Tilla Waters having been producing hand-thrown table-wares together since 2002. Earth tones combine with subtle colours and pastels in abstract designs on backgrounds that are eye-catchingly modern with a reassuring hint of vintage. These stoneware and porcelain unique pieces are used, loved and cherished by their owners – the perfect gift for one of your loved ones this Christmas.

Astrid de Groot creates spoons, bowls and reusable coffee cups with a modern aesthetic using traditional tools and techniques from indigenous hardwoods of rural Wales. Crafted from foraged wood – broken branches on the roadsides or fallen trees in the woods – her creations make truly sustainable as well as beautiful unique gifts.

For a little seasonal pampering – for yourself or a special someone – look no further than Lulu and Boo Organics. Their range of skincare products for women and babies uses carefully selected organic and vegan natural ingredients, making these luxurious treats that are good for the conscience as well as the body.

Reptile Tiles specialise in the production of colourful and contemporary tiles for both private and commercial clients and have work located throughout the world. Inspired by the wonderful and diverse history of tile-making across the world, they produce a wonderfully varied range of tiles, from the quirky to the sublime, with subject matters varying from underwater scenes, animals and birds to plants and landscapes.

Sian Reason-Jones’ inspired collection of contemporary concept jewellery brings urban chic to rural West Wales. Combining industrial materials with organic forms Sian creates uniquely beautiful pieces that are both striking and wearable.

If you are looking for a gift that plays with words and ideas as much as with beautiful images, look no further than the work of Erica Frances George. A thoughtful artist in numerous forms of expression, on any given day she may be found writing, printing, painting or cutting paper – or exploring something else altogether. Whether depicting a pertinent remark or a precisely composed illustration, her work is marked by brevity; excess is cut away until only the true and the beautiful (and sometimes the pithy) remain.

A perfect coming together of form and function, Susie’s Sheepskin Boots have been keeping the toes of Pembrokeshire (and beyond!) warm and toasty for 40 years. These cosy boots, slippers and mittens are handmade in a glorious range of rich colours and neutral tones with a range of carefully selected embellishments so you can give the gift of warm hands and feet this Christmas.

Elements of Pembrokeshire have been curating beautiful gifts for many years. They will be bringing fun alpaca and sheep flock footstools, all handmade in Pembrokeshire using local fleece as well as bringing the feltwork of Felting Madhatter (Claire Lloyd) including alpaca shawls and scarves using our Ash Farm alpaca fleece.

Marian Haf introduces us to an eclectic array of characters in her collagraphs. Her characterful textured prints feature beautifully illustrated birds, beasts and coastal creatures of all sorts – not to mention the odd dinosaur! – often set against backgrounds with contrasting simple, modern embossing or classic welsh textile motifs. Whether you are looking for a unique piece for a living room or a charming nursery print, one of Marian’s print cannot fail to delight.

Inspired by the direct appeal of 1960’s children’s illustrations, Frost and Kin handmake every print, card, model and T-shirt themselves. The combination of simple forms and handcrafted quality makes selecting from their range of gifts a wonderfully difficult decision for stylish kids – of all ages!

Kathryn Willis creates beautiful jewellery and panels in the rich jewel tones of vitreous enamel, a perfect choice for a gift that reflects the vibrant colour and light of the festive season. Drawing inspiration from the Welsh landscape and textile heritage as well as themes of growth, repetition and nature she creates unique pieces which will continue to delight year-round.

The hand-built stoneware and porcelain items created by Gill Oakley of Stone Hen Ceramics will enhance your Christmas décor with texture and light as well as supplying you with a selection of gifts that will delight collectors of beautiful things. From buttons that tell the tales of vintage textiles to luminous candleholders and Christmas ornaments, dishes and art plaques, Gill provides a feast of lovely present to treat your friends – and yourself.

Pandora Hughes of Opal Stained Glass reproduces the shifting moods of the Pembrokeshire landscape by utilising the medium of stained glass to create bright, contemporary artwork. The vibrant colours and varied textures in her work combine with light to produce works of art that change throughout the day and with the seasons, complementing the rich colours of Christmas or the bright days of summer with equally joyful results.

Alison Moger’s unique approach to textile art puts smiles on faces at any time of year. Her lively and quirky designs using free machine embroidery and applique techniques result in framed artworks, small accessories and decorative items that have bags of delightful personality.

Nia Denman of Studio ND is a sandal maker, leather lover will be bringing her fabulous collection of leather accessories (on Sunday only) which you can have personalized on the day as a unique and extra special gift. Nia also produces beautiful kits to bring out the leather worker in your crafts friends or family as well as running sandal making workshops.

If you cannot come to see us on 16th-17th November – we will miss you! BUT, now is still a great time to browse Sian’s designs online where you will find a special selection of sale items. Keep checking for new additions to the site shop as we move through the month as more of the alpaca sweaters become available online too.

© Sian O'Doherty, sianodoherty@hotmail.com 07983 453210 Ash Farm, Ivy Chimney Lane, Stepaside, Narberth SA67 8JU | Crafting Beautiful Website Design Hu Studio
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