Friday 31 August 2012

The Welsh Connection

Having a week away from work and the internet certainly gave me lots of thinking time!  Perhaps surprisingly, one of my thought trains was the several 'connections' that I have with Wales.

The first is most obvious - my name! A friend of mine had a much younger brother who, when the family moved to Wales, learnt Welsh at school. He took great delight in telling me, "Deryn, that means 'bird' that does".  With the modern use of the word 'bird' it wasn't something I planned on shouting about! Coupled with people often suggesting 'Darren was a boy's name', and being on the boys register as Denis Roberts at school (yes my maiden name was Roberts - another Welsh connection), I really wasn't impressed as a teenager.  Things change, however, because now I love having an individual name and take pride in designing and running my business under 'Deryn Relph'.

I'm gradually building up the number of stockists selling my work.  There are already three in Wales, and several people have commented that my designs have something Welsh about them. One of my stockists is CWT TATWS. I love that this translates to 'potato shack'.  Daloni Owen runs this business from the little 400 year old outbuilding on her farm in North Wales that once stored potatoes! Despite the rustic simplicity of the buildings origins Daloni has built up a lovely selection of home and lifestyle accessories. I'm delighted that my cushions are part of this venture! 

Another thing I really love is that I'm gradually learning some Welsh words as Daloni always writes Facebook posts in Welsh & English, and Tweets in both languages too!

You can also find Deryn Relph products at the Janet Bell Gallery, Beaumaris, Anglessey and The Little Gallery,Broad Street, Montgomery, Powys.

There is something innate within me that is drawn to Welsh wool textiles.  I remember visiting a mill during a holiday as a child, and that my Nanna bought me a little cream and brown purse which I treasured.  

I recently discovered this purse at a local second hand shop for the bargain price of £1. Far to good an opportunity to be missed and in one of my current favourite colours - ORANGE!

I think the open-ness of the woven cloth is part of the appeal for me now. There's something very honest about it as it reveals the structure and process behind it's construction.  The reversible nature of the fabric is also intriguing - there's no wrong side! This is something that  I have often said to students on workshops that I have run. It's one of those 'rules' that I like to stretch to the limit! There's no right or wrong side to knitting either - just two different sides, and sometimes more interesting things evolve where you weren't expecting them to be!

This picture shows both sides of a Welsh wool blanket that I recently bought at a Vintage Festival.  It really was a 'pot of gold' beckoning on that day. Partly because of it's Welsh origins, I felt an instant affinity with it, but also because it's PURPLE! Some of you will know that purple is a very Deryn colour. From the harem pants I made as a student to the velvet armchair I upholstered for my City & Guilds and the purple themed bed in my garden, purple seems to be a passion of mine!

I haven't decided where the blanket will live yet, but know it's going to be around for a long time yet! 

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