Labour and Wait

Household Hints No. 4

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The problem with having a favourite woolly jumper is that clothes moths like it just as much as you do.

Moth-annihilation strategies abound. Cedar we knew about. (‘Eliminate clothes moths simply by constructing your chests and wardrobes out of cedar wood,’ one book helpfully informs.) Essence of lavender, thyme or rosemary, sprinkled on woollens, are also said to do the trick.

Moth balls, which we are occasionally asked for in the shop, are now banned because of their toxicity. Modern pheromone moth traps seem to work best of all, luring the poor creatures to their doom with an empty promise of love.

For those seeking yet more elaborate remedies, here is a tip for getting moths out of a carpet. It comes from a set of cigarette cards published between 1927 and 1935.

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At Work – M.E.S. Leather

Join us in our Redchurch Street store this weekend for the first edition of our AT WORK series.

The craftsman behind M.E.S. Leather – Jonatan Staniec – will install his workspace into a corner of our store to demonstrate his process and hand-make leather goods throughout the weekend.

Labour and Wait, 85 Redchurch Street, London, E2 7DJ

www.labourandwait.co.uk
www.mesleather.com

Dogs at LABOUR AND WAIT

Dogs are welcome at LABOUR AND WAIT when they are as well-behaved as Ralph. Ralph is a cross chow and Australian cattle dog and he has a beautiful russet coat.

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That said, he doesn’t like having his picture taken so we had to catch him unawares.

Of interest to Ralph and others like him are our classic ceramic feeding bowls, handkerchief (for walkers or walkees), our soft but sturdy rope dog leads, purpose-built dog whistle and our scrumptious felt slippers with chewy rubber soles. 

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Thanks again to Ralph’s owners for letting us feature him here.

Photographs by Jeff Cottenden

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Friend of Labour and Wait, photographer Jeff Cottenden, recently borrowed a selection of our products for a personal project - He’s kindly shared some of the resulting shots with us. We always enjoy seeing items so familiar to ourselves from another point of view and we hope you will too.   

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Featuriung our Mustard Coffee Pot, British Army Knife, Sailor’s Whisk, Work Apron, Enamel Tumbler and Fisherman’s Sweater.

See more of Jeff’s work at www.jeffcottenden.co.uk

Tools of the Trade - December

And so we reach December, and the final entry in our 2013 Tools of the Trade Calendar. We take a trip once more to Wales, where we find Tom and Anna, proprietors of the Solva Woollen Mill, and makers of our Welsh Tapestry Rugs.

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Nestled deep in the Pembrokeshire countryside, the Solva mill has been in operation on this site for over a hundred years, weaving tweeds, flannel, rugs, blankets and stair carpets, and warping wool for knitting. 

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Originally established in 1907 by Tom Griffiths, Solva was passed down to his daughter Betty and son-in-law Eric on Tom’s retirement in 1950. Betty and Eric ran it for another thirty six years before passing it on to Cynthia and Robert Grime, who in turn passed it on in 2006 to their son Tom, and his wife Anna. The continuity provided by family is important at Solva, as Anna explains:

"The mill has only been owned by two families since it was built and Tom’s family history is intertwined with that of the previous mill owners all the way back to the early 1900s. His grandfather went to school with one of Betty’s brothers and they have always had close family ties. Tom was doing his A-Levels when his parents decided to buy the mill and he jumped at the chance of learning new skills associated with engineering and manufacturing."

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Eric at work ( above ) and Tom ( below ). Eric stayed on at the mill after retirement to help Tom and Anna learn how to run the mill and how to operate the complex machinery, and in particular how to work the Dobcross looms used to produce the tapestry rugs. 

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The Hattersley Dobcross Box Loom was the workhorse of Twentieth Century British weaving, producing countless thousands of metres of wool, worsteds and tweeds, and although many hundreds were destroyed as mills around the country closed down, there are still a handful of producers who keep and maintain these hardy machines. 

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"The Dobcross was designed in the 1880s but the dates of ours range from the 1920s, with the newest one being built in 1957. None of them are original, they all have previous lives in other mills. Saying that we do still have an original but its not built at the moment.”

"Nobody carries new spares anymore. The original supplier retired in 1987. We hold a large stock ourselves from looms we’ve bought just to use for spares."

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"The shuttle in our Tools of the Trade picture is probably 35 years old and is brand new – one of our spares! We now use nylon versions of these shuttles which became available in the 1950s and are more robust than the older wooden versions. We still use a pair of nylon shuttles that Tom fitted to a loom when his family bought the mill in 1986!"

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And what is the wooden tool on the top left? “Aha that’s no wooden tool! It’s an old buffalo hide picker hence why it’s not on the loom anymore - it’s worn out!! It slides backwards and forwards at the end of the loom throwing and catching the shuttle. Made from riveted buffalo hide, the modern equivalents are now made from nylon.”

We have come across the Dobcross before in Tools of the Trade, in March, when we paid a visit to Elvet Woollen Mill. This machine is the perfect loom for weaving the traditional Caernafon ‘Welsh Tapestry’ pattern that has seen such a resurgence in popularity over the past few years.

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"The Tapestry design is the oldest pattern we weave here and was adapted from one of the traditional Welsh bedspread patterns. The rugs and runners woven here were originally of a much simpler design, but in the 1950s Eric noticed how many people had been using the tapestry blankets on their floors, and so he adapted the design using heavier yarn to produce a tapestry rug." 

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Our Tapestry Rugs are available in our own Labour and Wait Airforce and Olive colours, as well as as in standard Black and Red colourways. The rugs are ‘double cloth’, being two layers of cloth woven together, making them weighty and durable as well as fully reversible. Solva use 100% British wool, spun by a family company in Yorkshire.

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Tom winding the yarn from the creel onto a warping mill and, below, a warp of one of Solva’s striped floor rugs.

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"The Cats are an integral part of the mill team as they patrol the mill deterring unwanted guests!!"

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There were once 26 mills in Pembrokeshire; now Solva is one of only two. Anna and Tom feel proud to maintain the family history that is so closely entwined with the mill: “For my part being able to carry on the family owned tradition with Tom is of huge importance. Breathing new life into the mill and encouraging visitors to appreciate the importance of heritage is one of my reasons for enjoying owning a mill.”

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We are very pleased to be able to sell these handsome Tapestry Rugs, woven by Tom and Anna in their Welsh mill. In doing so we feel we are playing our part in preserving a traditional industry, one that has been practiced in this mill for over a hundred years, and which will keep on going for many years yet.

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Tapestry Rugs are available in Airforce, Olive, Red and Black from our Redchurch Street store or from our website. Our thanks go to Tom and Anna for their pictures and for sharing their story.

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Our thanks also go to all our suppliers who have shared their tools and their stories with us this year. We hope to have shown a little of the companies still proudly making their goods in Britain, many in a traditional manner, all of which we are honoured to sell at Labour and Wait.

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Once upon a time…

A friendly farmer sold a collection of chainsaws and farmyard tools to a friend. Unfortunately, that friend didn’t have the cash to pay for said tools, so he traded them for his stash of unsold Swiss Army Knives from the early 1960’s.

That farmer kept hold of those knives for a good few years before contacting us here at Labour and Wait, with a view to selling them. Needless to say it didn’t take us long to gleefully take him up on his offer.

We are delighted to introduce our very limited stock of collectable Swiss Army Knives in our Redchurch Street store. 

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The 1960’s ‘Popular’ penknife.



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The 1960’s ‘Camper’ penknife.



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The 1960’s ‘Tinker’ penknife.



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Rare 1960’s Pioneer penknife