Wednesday, 30 July 2014

... a good yarn ahead.....

At the beginning of October we will be welcoming back the ebullient and irrepressible Marion Foale who will be here to lead a second knitting workshop for us (she only leads workshops for us!).  Such was the success of her first teaching event ever, that many participants from 2013 will be also be returning.  In the unlikely event that you haven't heard of Marion before, we thought you might like a little background on this vivacious, creative lady and her 1960s partner in crime, Sally Tuffin.


British fashion designers Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin were part of a movement known as “Youthquake”, a 1960s fashion, musical and cultural movement. It was the era of the Beatles, mini-skirts, trouser and jump suits (the world's first supermodel Twiggy who modelled some of their designs at the time, has been the subject of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery), and Foale and Tuffin were the inspiration of people like Mary Quant as well as 70s shops such as Biba and Bus Stop.

Marion and Sally met in 1955 while attending Walthamstow Art School . They subsequently studied together at the Royal College of Art under Professor Janey Ironside and in the 1960s, the pair established their own fashion company, “Foale & Tuffin”, located in Carnaby Street, in London's West End with a budget of less than £200. Together with their contemporaries, Ossie Clark, Zandra Rhodes and Bill Gibb, all graduates of the Royal College of Art, they had a massive impact on the fashion scene of the 'swinging sixties'.

Their dress philosophy strikes a chord with the current passion for home dressmaking and knitting, as well as well as our enthusiasm for recycling clothing and accessories whenever possible.  As Sally describes in the definitive book about them, Foale and Tuffin:The Sixties. A Decade in Fashion by Iain R. Webb
"We realised there was a gap in the market.  People would make their own clothes, dress and style themselves with bits and pieces, and we just sort of jumped in and made the bits and pieces for them."

Forty years on and Marion is still renowned for her highly fashionable, highly collectable, classic hand-knitted and feminine designs, though now they are often inspired by the glamour and chic of the forties with her own exquisite range of yarns some of which she will bring with her to the workshop in September.

Marion Foale current designs


Marion Foale Yarns

"What a fabulous week we had…it was so great to knit alongside such creative people and spend time doing exactly what we love in such a beautiful setting.  Marian was inspirational!  The experience will long live in my memory and I'm so looking forward to coming back to Les Soeurs Anglaises to enjoy their beautiful hospitality next year,  And of course to learn more, share our year's accomplishments and enjoy another incredible week!!"  Dianna K, USA


Our favourite photograph of Marion teaching last year (hope she wasn't laughing at Carol's scarf!!)
Marion's workshop for this year is currently full, but if you would like to go on the waiting list (or put your name down for next year), please get back to us.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

...... open studio.......

Yes, we're all as busy as summer bees down here in the sun!  Designer and illustrator, Jone Hallmark, and bookbinder extraordinaire, Alison Kuller, flew in from the States last Saturday to head up a week of "Open Studio" in l'Espace.  

setting up the studio in a new configuration
This is a first for Les Soeurs and it's proving to be something quite special allowing participants an opportunity to experience thoroughly the life in this beautiful part of France.  Everyone has brought their own work (and dreams) and found themselves a perfect space in the huge, light infused studio in which to create. The hydraulic door stays open all day and there is always the possibility of a dip to cool down in one of the pools if a break from work is deemed necessary.  This morning everyone scooted off to a local brocante in search of treasures, but now it's noses back down to the grindstone for some more serious creativity.

 
sorting out tools and materials
Jone and Alison had originally planned to run a workshop for us at this time, but we decided to give the Open Studio a try this year instead.  It's a new idea which allows an intimate group of participants (no more than 8) to bring along their own work and create alongside wonderful crafter/teachers without having a set "programme".  Everyone is happy to pool their skills and support each other.  Meals and transport are not included but accommodation and essentials are, and there is a fully equipped kitchen where communal meals can be made and eaten together.  In fact this first group, who have flown across the Atlantic, and driven up from Spain, to be here have decided to set up a dining area within the studio to take full advantage of the stunning views from the terrace.  Essentials are provided, but food can be bought either at the local marche, the village grocery store or at a supermarket a little further away (we have bicycles if you decide not to hire a car).  There are also several moderately priced cafe's and bistros to eat out at.

      ready to start work
We'll be posting more about these events over the next few months and whilst dates haven't been decided yet for 2015 (that's usually in September/October for the following year) if you think you might be interested in joining us for an "Open Studio Event" next year, let us know and we'll keep you posted.

Friday, 18 July 2014

....thinking ahead...

Whilst catching up with Les Soeurs Anglaises' emails in-between workshops I found myself absentmindedly surfing through various websites looking for yarns for winter projects and I came across a website shop called Quince and Co.  Sadly, it doesn't make sense for me to order yarn from the US, but I have downloaded several of their patterns - not free, I hasten to add, but not expensive either - and I'm particularly smitten by their shawls.  It was Julie Arkell who converted me (along with countless others), to the eponymous shawl and I have so many now that I've started knitting them for friends and relatives - how desperate is that?.  There's something very forgiving and satisfying about not having to worry if sleeves fit or seams are perfect (there aren't any),  and it's a pleasure to sit and knit these scarves and shawls.  Yes, you have to concentrate sometimes, but it really doesn't matter if they turn out smaller or larger than expected, you use the recommended yarn or needles; they work whatever size they end up.   Here are some of my current favourites:

And if you're looking for beautiful yarns with which to knit your chosen shawl, look no further than the fantabulous Isager Yarns.  I can personally recommend their Spinney and Tweed, though the Silk Mohair is also to die for....

p.s. Since posting this blog I have had several kind people email me with information where I can find the very yarns I mention above in the Uk and France so I thought I should pass the information along.   

If you're still thinking that maybe you could join us for Jessie Chorley's workshop, Usable Treasures, at the beginning of September, we recently sent out her workshop description to existing participants and it sounded so exciting we wanted to share from it with you.
 
 
"I am very much looking forward to returning to France for another workshop in the inspiring studio and surroundings of LSA.  This year my workshop will focus on creating pieces from discarded and found papers and combining these with embroidery and found objects. During your time at LSA we will also have trips out to source vintage finds, books fabrics etc."




We feel so fortunate to be hosting workshops with only those artists and teachers whose work we really admire and who are also a joy to work alongside.  Jessie comes high on that list and whilst she does the occasional one or two day event in the UK (she led a taster  today at John Lewis, London) the opportunity to share five full days of her creativity is a whole different experience.