Monday, 20 July 2015

What Exactly is Merino Wool?

At Yellow Front Door, we’re pretty specific about the wool cushions and throws we source - they need to be 100% pure, and made from merino wool or soft lambswool. Wool is a wonderful, warm, soft, renewable resource. It’s insulating, water-repellent, very durable, and perfect to snuggle up to in winter.
So how does merino wool differ from other types of wool? Merino is a breed of sheep known for their superior wool. They're widely regarded as having the highest quality and softest wool, finely crimped, and the most comfortable against the skin. This is down to thousands of years of evolution and careful breeding.
Merino sheep originated in Spain, merino being a Spanish word, and prior to the 18th century the export of merino sheep was a crime carrying the death penalty. Since then, merino sheep have been exported to various countries around the world, particularly other parts of Europe, the US, Australia and New Zealand. Now the wool from any merino sheep around the world can be classified as merino wool, and Australia produces around 80% of the world’s merino wool.
Merino sheep are highly adaptable and good at foraging. They’re very tough and strong animals. But not all merino sheep produce wool suitable for textiles, it depends on the strain of the breed. For example, merino sheep bred for meat do not have wool fine enough for textiles. There are different grades of wool and merino sheep produce wool that’s less than 24 microns in diameter. The lower the microns, the finer, softer and more expensive the wool.
At Yellow Front Door, two of our throws are made from merino wool. Rainbow Check Merino Wool Throw features rainbow stripes criss-crossing against a grey background. Rainbow Spot Merino Wool Throw has fun, colourful spots against a grey background, with the reverse in brighter colours. These throws are designed and made in Yorkshire, UK, and their colours resemble a Yorkshire sweet called Yorkshire Mixture. 
Rainbow Check Throw

Rainbow Spot Throw
Lambswool is another soft wool, made from the first shearing of the lamb at around 7 months of age. It’s technically 50mm or shorter, and is very soft and elastic, suitable for high-quality textiles. We've sourced some beautiful lambswool throws and cushions from the UK. Sunset Lambswool Throw is made by UK designer Gabrielle Vary, and uses a variety of greys blended from pale grey to charcoal to create the effect of a landscape at sunset. Citric Acid and Summer Time lambswool cushion covers are fresh, vibrant, and a contemporary take on traditional knitted patterns. Vary is inspired by nature and childhood memories, and all her pieces are knitted using the finest lambswool sourced from a luxury British wool spinner in Yorkshire.
Sunset Throw

Citric Acid Cushion
Sally Nencini is another UK designer specialising in wool products. We stock her Birdie, Big Tree, Cross Stitch Flowers and Tapestry cushion covers. She is influenced by her love of vintage toys, and many of her designs are knitted in her home studio in South East London.
Birdie Cushion

Cross Stitch Flowers and Tapestry cushions
Check out the full range of wool throws and cushions online at Yellow Front Door Treat and yourself to a warmer, cosier winter.

Yellow Front Door Outdoor Cushion Photoshoot

Check out photos from our outdoor cushion photoshoot with interior designer Sarah Barton-Hills at Balmoral Beach wharf. The wharf was the perfect rustic background to show off the colourful cushions. Sarah has a great eye for coordinating colours and styles, and was pretty handy with the camera too.
See our full range of outdoor cushions online at

Making New From Old - Artist Joanne Mulcahy Zubani

Local Bondi artist Jo Mulcahy Zubani has an unique and eco-friendly style - finding panels from white goods and other discarded objects on the street and turning them into incredibly interesting and beautiful artworks. Some of her pieces are landscapes, others are still life or abstract, and some are colourful while others more muted. 
I love the way she turns a rust spot into a tree below and transports you to an wintry evening in a park.

Below are pieces from her exhibition at the Bondi Pavilion.
Check out her website
Image for more wall art online 

Weekend Away at Pittwater, Sydney

If you need a weekend away from the hectic lifestyle in Sydney, head up to the beautiful Pittwater area - the scenery and beaches are gorgeous, food and shopping is great, and it's only an hour away! Read about our weekend away below:
We stayed in a wonderful boathouse, right on the water, aptly named The Boathouse on the Waterfront, at Careel Bay, which you can book through Stayz. It features a double bedroom, single bedroom, bathroom, fully equipped kitchen, simple but comfortable decor, a gas fireplace, and best of all, a deck and it's own jetty jutting into the water.
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We hired kayaks the first day from Careel Bay Wharf which was great fun, and explored the local area checking out all the divine boats and houses.
That afternoon we had lunch at Clareville Kiosk, a lovely little restaurant with one hat from the Sydney Good Food Guide. The food was great, service very friendly, and we sat next to the open window looking onto a delightful frangipani tree. Great beach for a dip in the water after lunch too. Check out the sublime pork belly and panna cotta below.
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That night we stayed in our little boathouse, relaxing in the chaises on the deck, reading, eating cheese and drinking wine.
The next day we couldn't resist lunch at The Boathouse Palm Beach - if you haven't been there you must go. It's got the most amazing location, on a old pier right over the water on the Pittwater side of Palm Beach. The decor is to-die-for with lots of lobster pots, rustic furniture and fruit and flowers spilling everywhere. The food's pretty good too - I had an awesome burger.
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Then of course we had to stop in the shop Bow Wow in Palm Beach, and I bought some lovely clothes, while my friend bought an amazing painting from local 24 year old artist Daniel Stephen, similar to the one below.
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A visit to the area is not complete without a stop in at the wonderful Mark Tuckey store - I can dream!
Mark-Tuckey_Feb-2012_sisalla_06  MT-SydneyStore-JasonBusch
If you're in need of a re-charge away from busy "life" I highly recommend a weekend in Pittwater!

DesignEx 2014

There's nothing like visiting a design expo to get inspired! Last year I attended DesignEx Sydney and here's a round-up of my favourite stalls and products.
Providing striking, high-end designer lighting. With their finger on the pulse they set rather than follow trends.
Dulux have put together some inspiring collections, making colour choice less over-whelming!
They've also made some colour forecasts for 2014, and my favourite is the Digital Nomads collection. Colours and inspiration come from exotic destinations such as Africa, India and Morocco. It's a global aesthetic with a fusion of tribal patterns and colours.
The colours work well with the Yellow Front Door range by Tamasyn Gambell - Aztec Red, Aztec Blue, Textured Stripe and Abstract cushion covers available at
A eco-friendly and ethical textiles and wallpaper company, based in NZ. The quirky, colourful and playful designs are printed onto hemp, Belgian linen and organic cotton. They use fabrics that are natural, recyclable and biodegradable, and digital printing processes that reduce waste. Patterns and  colours are designed to be customised. You may see a range of Heart Ethical pieces at Yellow Front Door in the near future....
I've had my eye on their dining tables and chairs for a while, all hand-crafted in beautiful oak. The idea is that you customise the furniture to suit your style and space - choosing size, style, shape, material, colour.

See how Design Ex has inspired the collection at Yellow Front Door:
cushions online
wall art online

Country NSW House Tour by Roth Architecture

Take a tour around this stunning house by Roth Architecture in country NSW (written by Yellow Front Door for hipages).

Relaxed Timeless Dining Room on Braggables

Yellow Front Door has featured on hot website Braggables - showcasing the best in new products, design and innovation. Check out their gorgeous dining room post, which features Yellow Front Door wall art!

Awesome Skiing at Cardrona, New Zealand

I've just come back to Sydney from an amazing family holiday skiing in Cardrona, South Island,  New Zealand. I really can't rate it highly enough - the mountain, staff, scenery and our accommodation.

We just had to build a snowman

Cardona ski field is particularly good for beginners - choosing which mountain and ski field was a bit of a mine field, but I was greatly assisted in my research by Powder Hounds - a comprehensive site that reviews and ranks mountains and skiing all around the world. So for me, a third time skier, and my children (5 and 7) who are absolute beginners,   Cardrona came out on top (luckily there were a few treacherous black runs to keep my husband happy too).

The beginner slopes

We all had lessons every day, which were invaluable, and perfect for learning technique and gaining confidence. Watching the little kids learn to ski, coming down the mountain in their little "ski-train" going choo-choo all the way brought tears to my eyes! The ski instructors were fantastic - calm, kind and experienced - just what you need.

There are only three cafes on the mountain (that I found) and Noodle Bar was the best - fresh, tasty and satisfying.

Now to the accommodation - we found an absolute gem of a luxury Bed and Breakfast called Waiorau Homestead on Trip Advisor - after reading a mixture of good and bad reviews on just about every hotel/guesthouse in the area (think bedbugs, zero cleaning and rooms with no windows...) we found his place that has no negative reviews. Well earned too - the hosts bent over backwards to make our stay happy and comfortable - even lighting an outdoor fire on one of the nights so the kids could toast marshmallows.

The house and rooms are stylish, luxurious (feather duvets and heated bathroom floors), and most importantly, warm! A roaring fire goes day and night, and meals are accompanied by music, candles, and the most wonderful food thanks to one of the hosts being a chef.

The family room at Waiorau Homestead
                  We were greeted by this every afternoon - cheese, homemade muffins and tea

Nearby, the Cardrona Hotel is the perfect place to unwind after a day on the mountains - fires are lit indoors and out, there's a quaint, historic, rustic feel, and pretty good steak too.

                                              Dates back to 1863 - not bad for NZ

                                                              Lovely mulled wine

The scenery around Cardrona is breathtaking, and Wanaka is a pretty good place for a day trip if you need a break from skiing - I recommend the gorgeous cinema Ruby's, and Puzzling World for laughs.

It was the perfect little break from life in Sydney and Yellow Front Door - the only downside being  the price - skiing will definitely be a once a year treat!