Thursday, December 28, 2006

Happy New Year!

Firstly, a very Happy New Year to all our customers, friends and to the small army of fantastic people who help produce our wonderful designs (you know who you are!). This picture is quite obviously NOT Scotland, but we are shrouded in fog and frost and so I thought I'd put this one in because it's what I would like it to be like now and it makes me feel great just looking at it!

As you might imagine, November and December have been extraordinarily busy months for us - so much so, that I'm afraid the Diary suffered from neglect. We exhibited at sales across Scotland and had a great time meeting customers new and old. We completely sold out of our Cup & Saucer candles - I always thought they would be a great seller, but the demand has amazed me - and it is wonderful to know that there are so many people out there who love our quirky candles as much as we do.

So, into the New Year and it promises to be a very busy and exciting time for us. Firstly, there is an enormous amount of legwork to be done to re-stock our china lines. And, secondly, we are getting ready for our first major foray into the South! We are exhibiting at the Country Living Spring Fair in March (14-18) in London - this means lots of work but I'm sure it is going to be great to take Twice to a wider audience.

Hope to see you there - and again a very Happy New Year!

Best wishes

Monday, November 13, 2006

History in the making .....

I have just finished putting some wonderful new cushions made from homespun linen onto the website and it occured to me that, like many of our finds, you might be interested in finding out a bit more about it.

All of these linens would have been made at least 50-100 years ago all over Central Europe. They would have been woven at home by the women of the household, who would spend their evenings weaving these amazing rolls of linen. It took the average weaver 1 night to weave 60 centimeters ( 24 inches) of linen. The full story of how they were produced defies belief in this day and age, when we just go out a buy any fabrics that we need - the linen would have been grown, cut and dried. It would then be put in water (maybe a pond) and left for three months in order to soften it for spinning. It would then be taken out, thrashed, combed and finally spun into linen yarn. This would then have been woven into these rolls of linen fabric, to be used as sacks or maybe cart covers. Many of these rolls were woven to be part of a marriage dowry and would therefore have been stored away carefully. This is one of the reasons that we can find them still unused after all these years.

Most of the linen has coloured stripes down the centre - a decoration that would have been added by the women weavers - who would have had to dye the yarn themselves to achieve the lovely colours that we now see. Reds, blues and greens are found and even purples and ochres. It can be difficult to know their exact country of origin, so unless we are sure of their provenance, we will stick to "European". The cloths can also vary from a fairly smooth linen to the wonderfully rough hemp linen of these cushions.

Whatever their history, they make extremely versatile and useful cushions. We have red stripes in stock at the moment and are about to add a navy blue striped cloth. Available, of course, from!

Best wishes

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fascinating Fabrics

I thought you might be interested to hear how we find and process the wonderful fabrics that we use at Twice. The first port of call for us when we are trawling for fabrics is antique fairs and auctions. Then we also work with dealers in the UK, on the Continent and in the States who specialise in antique and vintage fabrics. The variety of fabrics available at Twice is so wide that at any one time there will be gorgeous English chintzes that you might recognise from Granny's curtains to vintage Provencal prints to turn of the century American patchwork. One of the attractions of the Twice range is that it is so eclectic, but there are many fabrics that don't quite work for us, so we have to get the right feeling from a fabric before we will accept it.

Once the fabric arrives back at Twice, it is washed and ironed in our laundry - in addition to making sure that all our fabrics are clean and fresh when they get to you, this also means that we know that these old fabrics can withstand washing. If it struggles at this stage, then it won't make it any further. It is worth pointing out, however, that these are old fabrics which have already been used for another purpose before they are made up by Twice - it is likely that some signs of their previous life will remain after washing, but they will only be small and are part of the fabric's character.

We then review the fabrics to see which of our designs would look best in a particular pattern and we consider what uses it will be suitable for - for example, if it is a more fragile fabric, we will use it for products that will not need regular washing or take hard wear and tear. Every effort is made to ensure that fabrics are up to the job.

The fabric is then made up locally into the chosen design and finally makes its way to you from our headquarters here in Perth.

We've just added a few new designs to the range - drop into and look at the Covered Baskets and Sugar Bowl Candles - both vintage Twice!

Best wishes


Saturday, September 30, 2006

"Houston - we have lift off!"

I can hardly believe that I am actually able to write this but, finally, after an enormous amount of work and effort on behalf of Twice and our wonderful website team (Kevin, Katie, Simon and Rob especially) the Twice webshop is open for business! I would like to send my very great thanks to everyone for doing a truly brilliant job.

It's a very good feeling to have got to this stage - we have all been working on the website since the beginning of the year. It's been a pretty long pregnancy and even if delivery is slightly overdue (I had hoped for the beginning of September) I hope you'll agree that it's a bonny baby!

There's a taste of what you will find in the shop in this photo. We will be updating the webshop regularly with new versions of our existing designs and introducing a steady flow of new designs to tempt you. You can use the link on the right to visit the shop - we look forward to welcoming you very soon.

Best wishes (and a huge sigh of relief!)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Southerly gales ..... of laughter!

One of the reasons we moved to Scotland was for a better way of life, an escape from the hurly-burly of urban living - and, I suspect rather typically of new country dwellers, we have entered into the whole "Good Life" thing with gusto - to the extent that some of our friends in the south have started referring to us as Tom and Barbara! So I thought this photograph would give them a good laugh! These are puffballs collected this afternoon from under a bed of nettles - I'm sure a professional mushroom hunter would be quite used to finding them this size but we were amazed!

I was lucky enough to have inherited an Aga with the house and one of the very best things about it is that we can put mushrooms and other fungi on the warming plate at night and have delicious dried mushrooms by the morning. Last year we managed to dry enough to last until this autumn and this year I think we will beat that and be able to give some as presents at Christmas. The smaller puffballs are really good if you fry them in oil and butter and add a bit of garlic and whatever other herbs you have around - it's a bit like tofu which means that it laps up other flavours that you put with it. I don't think we'll be attempting to eat the ones in the photo though - at little long in the tooth probably.

From a Twice point of view, doesn't the Mug Candle look great!? They will soon be available at in our For The Home section.

Best wishes

Friday, September 01, 2006

A warm glow .....

We've just finished a batch of our wonderful Cup & Saucer Candles and I really wanted to put something about them in my diary.

The first thing I wanted to explain is why we use soy wax and not the usual parafin wax. The reason is basically that soy wax is 100% natural and doesn't give off that slighty chemical smell that you get with most candles. As with all our products, wherever possible we will take the environmentally friendly option and for candles, this is it. Soy also has a longer burn time than parafin wax - you can expect anything up to 14 hours from our cups. In addition, it is much, much easier to remove from anything - including our beautiful vintage china. So, once a candle is finished you can pop the cup in a low oven (80-100 degrees) to melt any remaining wax and then wash it as normal. The downside of soy wax is that it is much harder to get a perfect finish - but we think a few imperfections in the wax are a small price to pay for all the advantages.

The second thing, which isn't obvious when they first start burning, is how they become more beautiful as they burn down - at night the flame starts to glow through the china and it becomes quite magical on a dinner table - the only sadness is that it is at its best just as it nears the end! Oh well, you'll just have to get another one!

We will have a whole section for candles on the new website, which should be going live sometime during September. When it does, have a look at the 'Candles' section of to see our fabulous creations!

Best wishes

Friday, August 18, 2006

Mussels on Mull

I thought it might be nice to give you an occasional flavour of life in Scotland and this picture does just that. We have just spent four glorious day staying with friends on Mull, one of the largest islands off the west coast. The west coast is unbelievably beautiful, with its mountains, rivers, beaches and wildlife, and somehow it doesn't matter if the weather is lousy (which is was while we were there) - we all just got on and did the things we would have done anyway, just with the addition of waterproofs!

We ate fish that we had caught in a local loch, we sat on white beaches and searched for shells, we bicycled for miles and, almost the best thing for me, we picked mussels from a local beach and ate them that evening for supper. Unbelievably delicious - even with the crunch of the tiny little pearls in each of them. This picture shows our mussels being washed ready for cooking - which was as Moules Mariniere - just onions, white wine, cream and fresh parsley. There is nothing better than good food and good company - and we had both!

Back in the office now and we have just had a great day doing a big photo-shoot for the launch of the website, so we are all waiting to see the results with huge anticipation. Hopefully the photos will be ready very shortly.

Best wishes


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Vive la France!

I had a wonderful 10 days in France - which was partly a holiday and partly a scavenge for Twice. We were based in the Ardeche which is a truly beautiful and comparatively empty part of the South of France. Days were spent exploring mountain rivers, where we discovered the deepest, clearest rock pools, some bigger than a normal swimming pool. Absolute bliss!

On the scavenging side, I had some success too. I managed to find lots of old mattress tickings, which is what we use to line our leather tote bags. They are now back at the workshop, where we have been unpicking seams sewn in string that must have been hand-sewn 70 or 80 years ago. These tickings are great for us - they are basically one long piece of fabric that was then folded over end to end to cover traditional horsehair mattresses. The covers are now sold by dealers without their filling and we grab them and then unpick them - ending up with nearly 4 metres of fabric each time. They are washed and ironed in our laundry and then go off to Glasgow to line our bags. One of the things I love about these tickings is their integrity - they are strong, simple and have had a genuine working past.

Back in Scotland, we are enjoying this gorgeous weather and also the fruits of the garden - courgettes, beans, beetroot, spinach, peaches and cherries - delicious! As I write, the children are out picking raspberries for the freezer - and probably quite alot for their tummies! As one said last week - "Ten for me, one for the basket!".

Best wishes

Friday, July 07, 2006

New Sewing Rolls

When I started Twice last year, I already had a long list in my head of products that I wanted to develop for the company. The way I work has always been to create things that I would like to have in my own home or to replicate and improve things that I already know and love. Our sewing rolls are just that - a Twice version of a sewing roll that belonged to my husband's grandmother. She always had it near to hand, filled with sewing basics and ideal for taking with her when she travelled. The Twice version is slightly larger than the original, mainly because we wanted to fit in a really good sewing kit. We use vintage fabric for the outside and our twist is that we line it with vintage blanket, which makes a perfect built-in needle case. These are heirloom pieces that should be with you as long as ours has been with us - currently on it's third generation! The reason I am writing about them now is that a particularly gorgeous batch have just been finished, using vintage German household linens. These fabrics are so pretty and have a pretty story to go with them. In the late 1800's, new fabric printing processes meant that it was suddenly possible to have patterned bed linen. In Germany families started not only buying the new patterned linens, but also taking their existing white bed linen to the printers. A mass of incredibly pretty patterns in pinks, blues, lilacs and reds sprang up. As time went on the patterns became more and more intricate and multi-coloured. They are also wonderful to work with and lend themselves perfectly to our sewing rolls.

Not only do our rolls make a wonderful present (teenage girls particularly like them!) but I think it is a thoughtful touch to leave one in a spare room for guests to use. No more fumbling around for safety pins at the last minute!

I am off to France for the next couple of weeks hunting out fabrics and china - I hope to report back on lots of exciting discoveries! Until then -

Best wishes

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Patchwork Saturday

We have just taken delivery of some wonderful vintage American patchwork quilts from one of our dealers in the States. Some of the quilts date from the early 1900's and there are some blocks of quilt that have been made up ready to join together into a quilt - but, at some point many years ago, the sewer did what we are all often guilty of and ran out of steam! I would date these to around 1930. The upshot for us is that we now have a mass of little pieces of patchwork just waiting to be made into something new - I think they will probably become cushions, with the blocks appliqued onto denim or linen. The large quilts will be cut up to become cushions and also small quilts for our dolls' bed sets. We are really pleased with this delivery as the colours are particularly bright and fun.

On the home front, we are about to put up the canvas gazebo that we keep in the garden throughout the summer and are all looking forward to spending the weekend in the garden barbecuing for friends. I am particularly going to enjoy cutting bunches of peonies for the house - deep pinks, pale pinks and creamy white - just magical!

Best wishes

Friday, June 23, 2006

Bag sample arrives!

Huge excitement this morning as the latest deerskin bag sample arrived - it has worked out really well and ticks all the boxes we had hoped - great quality, delicious leather and a simple design that won't age. It is in fabulously supple Scottish deerskin and lined in a vintage French striped ticking - as with all Twice products we will be making as many as we can in each of the different tickings that we source. We have a number of really gorgeous tickings in various different colourways that have been waiting to be made up into these bags - there are olive and cream stripes, navy and cream, red, taupe and cream and a few in the much rarer multi-coloured stripes. They will all look great with the chocolate brown leather. There are going to be two sizes of bag - one medium sized bag which will be perfect for every day use and then a whopping great bag which has been designed to be used for carrying lots of stuff - it will be perfect for people who don't want to resort to a briefcase or it would be great as a baby's changing bag - a fabulous present for a new mother. The two bags together will be incredibly stylish for traveling - just put one inside the other as your hand luggage. My two daughters have been longing to feature somehow in Twice, so I am going to name the bags after them - the smaller one will be the 'Silvie' and the larger one the 'Eleanor'.

We are hoping that Silvie and Eleanor will be with us by the end of August ready for the autumn!

Best wishes

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Bang slap in the middle of the year!

So, yesterday was the summer solstice, which in Scotland means that it stays light until about 11.30pm and dawn is at about 3.00am - giving us hours and hours of extra day time for children, ponies, gardening and Twice!

On the fabric front, we have just received some beautiful pink floral fabric from a textile dealer in the States - it's an amazing piece which is completely unused and dates from about 1940 or earlier. There are 9 1/2 metres of it, which is exceptional and I think that it will be perfect for little girls' elasticated waist skirts - so we will be working on that today. In addition, some fabulous English chintzes have arrived, which are always brilliant for the shopper bags and peg bags, so those will be going off to be made up - should be with us in about two weeks.

We have also found some incredibly pretty French printed cotton which is very old and quite delicate but will make wonderful lampshade covers, with matching ribbon. I think we should be able to make about 10 from the fabric we have.

Best wishes