My chair, eventually perfect!

Danish Modern lounge chair upholstered in grey/brown heathered wool felt from New Zealand

Danish Modern lounge chair upholstered in grey/brown heathered wool felt from New Zealand

I write many of these blog posts and other personal writings not at the desktop computer in my office, but in ‘my chair’, positioned to look out to the backyard and watch the comings and going of the animal life there. It is a welcome respite from the insular surrounds of the office I have toiled in for the last 15 years. Nice office, but change is good.

‘My chair’ is a Danish modern piece, not by a named Danish designer, but classically designed, clean, soft lines and a modest scale, suiting my modestly scaled body perfectly. It is also my chair because it is the first piece of furniture I have owed that is upholstered in fabric from one of the mills I represent. After 17 years that is saying, what, that I don’t buy much furniture? Yes. That the furniture I have bought comes with an acceptable fabric already on it? Yes. That I am loath to replace perfectly acceptable fabric with something that more specifically suits my tastes, and if I’m honest, my ego? Yes. That I have trouble making the big decisions on such things because what if it is only perfect for today and not tomorrow? Yes.

Somehow I surmounted all those hurdles and a year and a half ago put into motion the process that brought me ‘my chair’. Gram’s chair, which had occupied the space, was dispatched to my sister and the glaring hole its absence left propelled me to press Lynne at Klassik Living to find me the perfect chair – not too stylized, not too precious or expensive, and certainly comfortable. Of course Wiley would have to be happy with it too. Not that he would get to sit in it much, but he would see it constantly and we are a team after all, and the whole team needed to be on board. Lynne quickly scored and Wiley eventually agreed this might be an appropriate chair. Immediately I had the perfect fabric for it, a very special wool felt woven by the New Zealand mill I represent. Original and authentic because there is not anything like it on the market. Special because it was a fantasy development, hatched in the design studio with the hope that a high end editor/jobber would run with it in their line justifying new yarn inventory to support production. The Great Recession squashed those hopes, so what remained were just a few yards of trial yardage in the most luscious chocolatey brown melange you can imagine. (Actually you don’t have to imagine because it is pictured here.)

Wool felt with melange effect

New Zealand wool felt – chocolate brown color

A melange or heathered felt in this case is one that is colored in the ‘top’, before the yarn is even spun. When we studied this in textile school we drew from bins of colored ‘top’, or wool fluff and with our fingers pulled and combined over and over to blend the colors, adding a little of this and a little of that to reach our desired shade and effect; an almost solid color, or more contrast between colors for a pronounced heather effect. In school we then felted the top instead of spinning it into yarn, but in production, in this particular case, the combined colors of top were spun into yarn that was then woven and fulled to produce a woven felted fabric. More on that in a future post.

The color was checked and confirmed with the mill that there was just enough of the trial yardage available to upholster my chair – yippee – and arrangements were made for payment and shipping. It was a happy day when I saw the UPS driver come up the walk with what was obviously a roll of fabric and the only roll I was expecting. But the thrill turned to shock and dejection when I realized this was not the color I had intended. Wires had been crossed somehow and despite assurances that there was no possibility of confusion, confusion had occurred. I was shipped a grey/brown melange felt – cooler in tone and more heathered than the chocolatey color I had my heart set on. After determining the brown color was not available and checking options from other sources I took several deep breaths, settled down and realized that while it wasn’t what I was expecting, and I liked the original color, as a color, better than the grey/brown heather, it really was still the best option.

Grey/brown wool felt showing selvedge edge.

The ‘wrong’ color wool felt used on Danish Modern lounge chair, showing selvedge edge.

Fast forward – the chair was upholstered, delivered, set in place and immediately christened with copious quantities of cat fur, the ultimate blessing in this house. Wiley and I concurred. It is the perfect fabric for the chair, for the house and the cats.  All to say, what may seem perfect at first and be your heart’s desire, might not be the only thing that works. Perfect is subjective and sometimes one needs to just relax and let perfect arrive in its own way. When you work with quality materials, truly well made fabrics, authentic textiles imbued with creative intent, perfect is usually not far away.

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