Entertaining Them


This enchanting dwelling is right up there on the list of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen. Kelly English, the Minneapolis designer and mom responsible for the Cheeriup Thicket, wove the entire structure out of willow with her two bare hands—putting her in a superhero crafting league of her own. The idea came about two years ago when Kelly, who describes herself as a compulsive maker of things and a natural materials snob, wanted to create an outdoor play space for her daughter Clover, who is now 3 years old. She had just learned to knit and thought, “Why not knit a playhouse?” After doing some research, Kelly learned that saplings would be a good weaving material because they’re strong, pliable, and lightweight (Native Americans used them to build wigwams). She lucked out on a source who was doing some shoreline clearing and had lots of willow to spare. With some trial and error, the first thicket was born in Kelly’s backyard. Each dwelling the designer makes starts with a round wood base, then she adds vertical pieces for the structural frame, and starts weaving horizontal pieces through those vertical pieces to build the wall—the process takes about 3 to 4 weeks. Kelly named her new business Cheeriup, which launched in October. The thickets are available in various sizes, starting at 4 to 6 feet tall. They can be installed indoors or out, and adorned with accessories: ceramic bells, colorful yarn fringe, felt flags, woven window boxes… Even though the thickets originate in Minnesota, the good news is that Kelly will travel to build the thicket of your dreams anywhere in the country.


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