At the end of April next year, Åsa Söderman of Åsa Tricosa will be leading a two day Knitting Masterclass for us. We are very excited as this will be our first foray into Weekend Workshops and whilst a weekend away may not seem practical if it involves long haul travel, with a little help from us you might be able to integrate the workshop into a visit to Europe. And of course you would be welcome to use our B&B accommodation either side of the event to explore the amazing countryside around us and/or visit Bordeaux and the Atlantic coast.
We aim to limit the Weekend Workshops is to small groups of no more than eightso that workshop leaders ensure all participants gets the undivided attention they might need over this shorter period. Åsa's enthusiasm, technical skills and knowledge about all things knitted, together with her infectious joie de vivre, make her the perfect knitting "enabler" for thisKnitting Masterclass. She will be demonstrating pockets, hems, waistshapings and wowza bust darts, as well as a variety of stitch patterns. This workshop is suitable for both competent and accomplished knitters.
Not many of us have time for the seriously beautiful art of Yarn Bombing, but with the Global Climate Conference in Paris just around the corner, here are some of Åsa's thoughts about how all enthusiastic knitters can make a little bit of a difference.*
"When I graduated from high school my parents held up a placard (as is the custom) with baby photos of me with two "facts":
1. Who bakes the best "bullar" (cinnamon rolls) in all of Bromma (a suburb of Stockholm)?
2. Who knits the same sweater three times?
"I've always reused and recycled yarn – at some times more successfully than others - wildly mixing
yarn weights and trying to force them into service because I like the colours or texture. Another way I use and recycle is, of course, the trading, destashing and restashing that takes place on websites like Ravelry.This can be fairly hit and miss, but the hits are definitely worth the effort. It's simply so satisfying making something, both pretty and pretty useful, from yarn that would otherwise be hidden or thrown away. The best example I have is a partly knitted skein of Sundara Silk I bought from a knitter in the USA. I frogged the shawl that was taking shape and knitted myself a splendid shawl using my own Serangoon pattern."
"Below is a photo of a sweater I made with someone else's pattern that I have found too long in the waist for my liking. My plan now is to unravel it and re-use the yarn to knit a design of my own. Obviously items like knitted bags, kids' pullovers and mitts - where the finished size isn't quite so important - lend themselves especially well for this kind of recycling. Of course, always remember to do your tension squares before commencing!"
Spring is a spectacular time of year down here at Les Soeurs Anglaises with some bulbs still in flower, trees already in leaf and peonies in bud; and if it's warm enough you might find yourself stitching on our magnificent studio terrace. We'd so love to have some yarn aficiandos here to help us celebrate our very first Weekend Workshop; if you have any questions about the workshop, venue or travel, that aren't answered on our website, please do contact us directly either by email or phone (T +33 553 91 38 40).
.... and cooler temperatures outside, we at Les Soeurs Anglaises think there's a lot to be said for staying indoors and catching up on some of the little sewing jobs that have been accumulating over the warmer months. Inspired by the current work of two of our Weekend Workshop leaders for next year, Claire Wellesley Smith and Jessie Chorley, but also by the exquisite Japanese mending of Boro, we're working on our patching & darning skills using textiles. We've been trying our hands at repairing damaged knitted items, too, but more about that in our next newsletter!
A soft, old linen shirt patched and re-patched..
Favourite shirts, sweaters and vintage clothing that perhaps have seen better days, and are now in need of some tender loving care, become not only wearable once more, but also something to wear with pride and pleasure (and not a few compliments!).
In Claire's fascinating book, Slow Stitch; Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art, she mentions that in the UK alone, ".... we send 1.2 million tonnes of textile waste, much of it good quality, to landfill or for incineration every year." A staggering amount by any standards. If we wear clothes that we hope reflect our personalities then these much-cared for items say more about us than any throw-away garments from the likes of Walmart or Primark; ".......garment production that involves the cheapest and most flexible labour in some of the least regulated workplaces in the world". If there is a common thread (excuse the pun) in our choice of workshop leaders, it is their celebration of, and respect for, heritage, memory and the hand-made.
Here are a few examples of rescued clothes that we love and that might otherwise have ended up in a land-fill site.
Compared to metal or stone, of course the lifespan of textiles is much shorter, but with love and attention is it considerably longer than our consumerist zeitgeist would have us believe. Personally, we prefer to hand stitch repairs, but sometimes the zigzag stitch on the sewing machine is just too tempting.
New Skirt made out of old fabric with a multitude of patches. Hand-stitched Boro jacket
Elbow patch on a recently found shirt at our local brocante, bought for pennies and patched with other vintage offcuts.
Children used to be taught a myriad of beautiful darning techniques - a stitching art in itself. This darning sampler of 1814 is by Martha Woodnutt and was stitched at the famous Quaker Westtown School, Pennsylvania. It is worked in cotton on a linen/wool mix and is a perfect blend of painstaking needlework and practicality.