The wonderful world of wool

29 Jul, 2012 02:00 AM
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WHEN two creative minds put their heads together in the name of fashion there was one fibre they wanted to work with - wool.

Raffaella Basini Creations is the business of Raffaella and her daughter Tamar, who officially launched their fashion label, Knido, in May 2011.

Nido is the Italian word for nest and represents the fact that the Basinis build their pieces from natural fibres, predominantly wool.

The silent k stands for knitting, to represent the construction of their work.

Creativity flows freely through the Basini family, with Raffaella having worked in the fashion and design industry for many years.

She learned to knit and crochet from her grandmother when she was a child and passed those skills on to Tamar at the tender age of 14.

It was something both ladies picked up quickly and they have taken those skills, along with Raffaella's experience, and created a successful business in Raffaella Basini Creations.

Now they are keeping people around the State both warm and stylish through Knido, with a stunning range of fresh and luxurious woollen garments.

The Perth-based duo did their research before officially launching, but deciding what fibre they would work was easy.

"We started to play with wool and different types, but then we found Merino wool and fell in love with it," Raffaella said.

"Now we use Australian Merino, which is processed in Italy before coming back to us.

"It's lovely to wear and there is no other fibre like it.

"We've researched how it works with the body, allowing the skin to breath and keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter."

As well as loving wool for its wearability, Tamar said the sustainability of the fibre was also very important.

"We wanted to keep it eco-friendly and sustainable," Tamar said.

"So we have less than two per cent wastage - we use everything.

"Not only do we get to work with a beautiful material, but it's also natural, non-chemical and a lot healthier for the planet."

The base of the Knido range is Merino unisex scarves and hands-free wraps, crafted using a hand-powered knitting machine, with details done by hand.

They have also produced a range of beautifully delicate fingerlings (fingerless gloves) which have proven very popular.

Tamar had only been using a knitting machine for a year prior to their business starting and is largely self-taught, which she believes is an advantage as she allowed herself to experiment with different techniques and styles.

Amazingly, despite all the wool being produced in WA, Knido is unique and the Basinis have yet to come across any similar businesses.

"When we first started visiting boutiques and shops asking if they would like to stock Knido, we kept being told that there was nothing like us, so it was quite successful," Raffaella said.

"There are synthetic wool products, which they still call wool, but it's actually not.

"We only use authentic Merino wool."

Knido is stocked at The York Mill gallery, where the ladies recently held an exhibition of their range, the Boranup Gallery at Margaret River, the Old Bakery on 8th at Maylands and Dilettante on King Street in Perth.

They also attend markets such as Made on the Left, which is open only to WA handmade designers.

They have produced a very exclusive, limited edition range of seamless wool dresses and tops, which are only available at Dilettante.

It can be extremely time consuming to achieve the level of detailing on Raffaella and Tamar's work, but that's what they pride themselves on most.

The most basic scarf takes a minimum of four to five hours to produce.

Winter is the peak season for the Knido range, which gives the ladies the rest of the year to plan, prepare, source wool and work on new ideas.

Each piece is made to be completely individual, so you'll never come across someone wearing the same scarf.

The detailing on the ends of their latest range of scarves is a prime example of their unique style. They have been crocheted by hand to produce a gorgeous finish resembling coral.

"We've only made 12 in each colour of the coral range and once they are sold, that's it," Tamar said.

"We're bringing the art of handcraft back.

"Even though we can't charge for the level of time and effort that goes into work, we still do it because we want to bring back these things from lost times.

"In a way we're a new idea, there are so many ways we can take our pieces."

It's obvious that this mother and daughter team work well together and have a lot of respect for each other's skills and ideas, but importantly, they share the same vision.

Another area Raffaella and Tamar are passionate about is "upcycling" - taking vintage woollen garments and re-birthing them into new pieces.

They often hunt around in second-hand stores and op shops looking for woolly gold they can utilise.

For example, what began as a dress that Raffaella created as a teenager from wool she bought while working at a haberdashery store ended up being turned into a blanket by her mother.

That blanket sat on Raffaella's bed for many years before being stored in a box until Tamar found it, took it apart and turned it into vintage scarves.

"We created 11 pieces from that blanket, made from wool from the 1960s and 1970s," Tamar said.

"After the blanket, we got the idea to do an upcycled range.

"So we've spent the last year collecting wool and jumpers and unwinding them to create something new."

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