Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Creative women....

Increasingly I am falling in love with textiles. I've always loved antique table cloths, lace collars, embroidered linen and let's not forget the occasional chintzy floral print, but lately I've been seeing the beauty in more simple, more humble linens. Soft natural cotton tea towels with red stripes or blue checks, vintage Irish linen bed sheets completely unadorned but so substantial and crisp despite 50 years of use, even dish cloths, the most basic of textiles but so much more wholesome than those yellow plastic sponges with the scourer on top (which I hate and the Boy is inexplicably attached to, every time he goes shopping by himself he comes back with a new packet.)

So I let out a little sigh of yumminess when I saw these gorgeous traditional African textiles over as Saipua. They're hand woven by women in Ethiopia and Swaziland then sold by Creative Women, a business based in Vermont who are intent on introducing traditional African textiles to a western market while promoting fair trade practises and supporting employment for women in countries where most women are unemployed or working in appalling conditions.

"Creative Women began in Ethiopia. It grew out of my experiences and travels. I saw sex workers training to be hairdressers, only to find there were no jobs available; I visited rehab centers where women were sewing and embroidering beautiful table cloths, but the only market for their products was a small bazaar for the ex-pats living in Addis Ababa. I realized that by finding markets in the US, an opportunity existed to improve women’s lives and to maintain a centuries-old art form by introducing the West to the beauty of Ethiopian textiles"

Creative Women.

If you're lucky enough to live near Saipua (oh how I dream of living near Saipua) then please go and buy some immediately (and pop them in the post to Scotland? No? Well it was worth asking) and if not then check here for a list of stockists all over the US and Canada and a couple of solitary stores in Bermuda and Japan.

Beautiful textiles, ethically produced and supporting women in Africa. What's not to love?

All images courtesy of Creative Women and discovered via Saipua.


  1. love these! And living in Brooklyn I sometimes forget how incredibly luck I am to live or work next door to some of these lovely spots! I'll pop into Saipua today just for you!

  2. Gorgeous! You might like . Makes me want to chuck anything modern in the house and go to junk shops and auctions....

  3. I tried to stop by Saipua a few weeks ago to pick up some flowers but they let me down...they didn't have any left :-(

  4. So, funny world. Just saw a post about you on A Practical Wedding and JUST figured out that you are the duo behind Lillian and Leonard. I've had you guys bookmarked for months in my very shortlist of photographers. AND I've been reading your blog for the last month. :P Anyway, it all just clicked right now. You'll be hearing from us soon! (need to first sort out the venue and date in the next month)

  5. I've been dreaming about Saipua too. This post and the one the other day with people in traditional dress (which I now can't find?) inspired me to post some of my sister's photos from her African adventures.

  6. Thank you for sharing this with us. When i first stumbled over your blog many many months ago i read your entry on the Power of Hands foundation in UK and the beautiful work of the impoverished lace makers in Sri Lanka which inspired me greatly. I have been reading your beautiful blog ever since.


play nice.