Thursday, 29 January 2015

.. the boys can join in.....

January is nearly at an end and the days are definitely getting longer, but it's still falling below freezing most days here in the south of France, though that's practically tropical when compared with the weather conditions on the east coast of the US.  Whilst reading all about the storms hitting New York, I came across this terrific photograph by ANDREAS FEININGER of the Great Blizzard of 1947.  Andreas was the son of one of my favourite artists, Lyonel Feininger, whose own father emigrated from Germany to the US in 1848.
Don't it make you want to just stay indoors and knit?    But if that's not your style you might be interested in a couple of Fair Isle sweaters that I picked up at a local brocante recently;  one is definitely hand-knitted and both 100% wool and in pretty much near perfect condition, size S/M and for sale at our Etsy shop.

And if you're in need of cheering up during these dark days and the men in your life keep telling you that knitting is for the girls (whilst they got on with rocket science and fixing the car), then here is something to prove beyond a doubt they couldn't be more wrong.  Let's face it, if Mr Spock can make himself a scarf, and our very first heart throb, the gorgeous Cary Cooper, can knit a...a... whatever, then choosing colours, patterns and yarns is also something the boys can enjoy ion the knowledge that together with learning a language and chess, knitting complicated patterns has been proven to exercise the brain and keep minds young and sharp.  

We don't often write about events in the US but here is one that might appeal to anyone living in the Los Angeles area who loves 40s and 50s styles.  Wear It Again Sam Vintage Clothing will be running a stall at the Inspiration fair on the 6th and 7th February.  Looks like lots of fun, but if you can't get there then you can visit their on-line Etsy shop to see the best of what they have to offer in retro style.

Beautiful 1940's New Look Gabardine Suit w/ Long Peplum in the Back by "American Woolen Company" 


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

.... aprons galore.....

You may, like us, enjoy the occasional arts and crafts fair, and this year we have ear-marked AEF Pro Paristhe International Needlecraft and Hobby Trade Fair, not least as a show of solidarity against what has been happening in this great city the past week.  If you plan a visit to La Belle France before then, there is another, very charming fair L'Aguille en Fete in the capital between the 12th and 15th February. Sadly we won't be able to be there this year as we'll be in the UK, but we have been in the past and it's well worth a visit (I know Selvedge Magazine generally have a stand).  However, if you're stuck in the Big Smoke don't forget the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia, 5th-8th March.  Crazily huge but you can always find lots of interesting young and creative companies like By Hand London; and there's still time to enter their Knitted Farm Competition.  


Some of you may have joined us at our Reception last spring  at the beautiful haberdashery, Ray Stitch, on the Essex Road, London.  We announced at that time our intention of running a joint dressmaking event, Sewing Retreat, which is to be held down here at Les Soeurs Anglaises this September.  Rachel and her colleague, Gen (who now runs her own shop in Crouch End) will be popping over to lead the first 5 day/6 night residential dressmaking workshop that we've organised and it promises to live up to all our expectations.  Whether you are an absolute beginner who wants to be able to make basic, stylish items of clothing for yourself or family members - or someone with a lot more experience looking to build on your existing skills and keen to master new advanced sewing techniques - these five days could be just up your street.  If you would like to talk in person to Rachel about how the five days will pan out just send her an email.

As all our workshops are filling up quickly, we suggest you don't leave it too late to book (on-line or email Susie).
On the subject of sewing, three of our signature aprons were posted out last week to the winners of our Christmas competition and here is a picture of one of them:  Helen Ott who apparently ran straight out of her (patently very clean) cowshed to have her photo taken.

We absolutely love how delighted Helen looks in her new milking garb.  Makes our competitions all the more enjoyable for us.  Happy days in the milk shed, Helen!

Friday, 9 January 2015

... lovely article

For those of you who don't subscribe to the UK's Embroiderer' Guild Embroidery Magazine (and you really should as it is truly one of the most considered, interesting and intelligent journals around for anyone interested in textiles and textile art), there is this month a lovely article about yours truly, Les Soeurs Anglaises.  Thank you Jo Hall of all your kind words;  we loved having you here and delighted that you found Rosalind Wyatt's workshop last year so inspiring.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

A Very Happy New Year to one and all and well done to those of you who entered our Apron Competition!We had over eighty correct entries (and so many kind and effusive messages) we thought the fairest thing to do, considering readers in the Americas and Australia would be opening the newsletter later than those of us in Europe, was to put all the names in a hat and pick out three names.  And here they are!........
Susan Mee, Suffolk, UK
Helen Ott, Kent, UK
Dawn Ottensmeier, St Louis, USA
Well done ladies;  we have your sizes and addresses and aprons will be heading your way within the next couple of weeks.

We are delighted that our first workshop of 2015, Narrative Stitcheswill be the led by the acclaimed, influential and quintessentially English Folk Artist, Janet Bolton.  Janet's third event at Les Soeurs Anglaises, it will be held at the beginning of May to fit in with her still busy work schedule and it promises to be another full house.  Many of you will already know Janet and her work; she first started to exhibit in 1984, and has had many exhibitions worldwide since then, as well as numerous books of her work published.  But for those less conversant with her reputation and beautiful collages, here is a description of her techniques, in her own words:

  Janet Bolton teaching at LSA last year

"My early awareness and appreciation of cloth, the result of growing up in Lancashire, UK when the cotton industry was still flourishing, led me to compose my images with fabric rather than with paint. With an idea in mind, and working directly with selected pieces of fabric, I cut, place and re-arrange the different elements allowing the composition to develop with the placement of each piece. I prefer this method to working on ideas in alternative mediums as it allows a wonderful directness and freedom of expression.  Colour and flat pattern is often combined, with a personal sense of perspective and space, and  I manipulate these ideas to create my own world.  My landscapes are always imaginary although often inspired from something I have observed. For me, sketching is a separate activity, but the observations often feed my imagery, and inspiration can also come from memory, imagination, and at times from an idea or memory evoked by the fabric itself. Often all these elements are combined in a single piece." 

The opportunity to spend five full days under Janet's creative wing, sharing many of her superlative creative processes and sewing techniques, doesn't present itself very often so Narrative Stitches offers an opportunity to suspend your everyday chores and allow les Soeurs to take care of all your daily responsibilities whilst you concentrate on learning or developing a personal style through the medium of textiles and stitch, in our beautiful light-filled studio.

a work in progress by Bronwyn Hickey at last year's workshop at Les Soeurs Anglaises
Do let us know if you're interested in taking up one of the few remaining places on Janet's workshop as these aren't likely to be available for long.  May is generally a wonderful month in this part of South West France and our garden will be bursting with blooms, especially peonies (my husband, Mike, is a keen collector).  As a newsletter/blog reader there is also the possibility of a free room upgrade if you pay your deposit before we put our waiting list into operation, probably at the end of January.
It is, of course, still pretty cold in this part of France, but with all les Soeurs gathered in front of a warm log fire over the holidays, we had some quality time looking through mags, sharing knitting patterns, discussing new designs for aprons and much, much more.  Whilst perusing last month's issue of Selvedge, we came across this gorgeous, perfect-for-cold-weather, knitted balaclava - with which we all immediately fell in love - originally chosen by stylist, Haidee Findley Levin for her Japanese Vogue article, and photographed by Anne Menke!
The article doesn't mention where you can buy the item (but, hey, who needs to buy when you have fingers to knit?) so we scoured Ravelry and found a similar pattern by Susan Newhall which we're planning to adapt and make with existing yarns; personally, I have some wonderfully soft Malabrigo lace yarn sent to me from Australia by the lovely Debbie Ogilby which I will double up) and we'll reconvene with the finished items to compare and contrast in a couple of cold month's time.  We'd love you to join in the fun of designing your personal take on this balaclava - find your own basic pattern or use Susan Newhall's - and let us know if you're on board as there might even be a prize at the end!
Happy 2015
p.s. If you do just one new thing today to start 2015 off on the right foot, visit the The Craftivist Collective website.  Impossible not to get caught up in their enthusiasm for positive, do-able, creative change!