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!

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