Monday, 23 November 2015

.... an intensive weekend of knitting with Åsa Söderman........

 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 travelwith 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 eight so 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 this Knitting 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?
    Answer: Åsa!
"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).
Katie :)
*"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;  indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  Margaret Mead 1901-1978

Saturday, 7 November 2015

..... with winter on our heels.....

.... 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.

go to this 
fascinating blog to see how they darned in Medieval times

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. 

5 Day / 6 Night Workshops  
Julie Arkell   Birds on a Table   1st  to 7th June      
Anna Kristina Goransson   Felted Form and Function  
  22nd to 28th June    
Fiona Rutherford  Tapestry Weaving   31st August to 6th Sept    
Celia Pym  
 Knitting, Mending and Darning    21st to 27th Sept   

Weekend Workshops
ASA TRICOSA  Knitting Masterclass  30th April / 1st May 
CLAIRE WELLESLEY SMITH  Dyeing and Stitching   7th / 8th October

Book a place now

Monday, 19 October 2015

It's been a long time coming, but to paraphrase the words of songster Sam Cooke, a change is definitely on it's way here at Les Soeurs Anglaises.  

We have finally uploaded our new website with all the workshop dates for 2016, and what an eventful and stimulating year ahead we have for you.  As usual, there will be our 5-Day/6 Night textile related events spaced over the summer months; one is to be led by returning favourite, Julie Arkell, the other three by new artists/crafters whose work we have long admired: Anna Kristina Goransson, Fiona Rutherford, and Celia Pym.  All three are mistresses in their field of excellence and we expect workshops to fill quickly. 

To stir things up a little, in 2016 we will also be hosting a new series of Weekend Workshops, for those of you who would like a taste of what we have to offer but whose busy schedule or travel arrangements don't allow a full week away. These are for a limited number of participants and will be taught by popular, past LSA Workshop leaders whose work and teaching we have particularly admired.  We suggest you check out their pages on our website, and trust you will find the possibilities as tempting as we do.

You'll find a lot more detail and information on our newly designed website.

Following on the heels of India Flint's highly successful event here this year, and amongst the Weekend Workshop leaders we are hosting in 2016, is the inspirational dyer and stitcher, Claire Wellesley Smith whose book, 'Slow Stitch: Mindful and Contemplative Textile Art' was published last month by Batsford and is now available on Amazon.

So many of Claire's thoughts and ideas touch a cord with us at Les Soeurs Anglaises, and the illustrations of her beautiful work are truly inspirational.  
Hoping to see you next year
Katie x