Monday, 4 July 2016

..... get away with you......

Summer should be upon us, but we, like most of Europe are in the doldrums.  Not just because the sun isn't shining as much as we'd like, but also because of the unsettled times ahead.  For the time being however lets pretend it's business as usual.  We are half way through our 2016 workshops (our last was another super Silver Yoga led by our flexible soeur , Lizi Bolton), and with a quiet couple of months in store we are looking forward to Celia Pym's Knitting, Darning and Mending from the 21st-27th September. 
Celia Pym is a leading London-based artist, knitter and darner specialising in visible repairs - she quite literally celebrates 'wear and tear.'  “I love seeing damage and holes,” Celia says. “Making mending invisible doesn’t make sense to me: things happen, stuff changes, holes appear. Let the darning grow into the old bit so that the garment can be seen to change and age.”  Having trained as an artist with a background in sculpture, she learnt embroidery, tapestry, silk painting and other textile techniques as a teenager.  “I use textiles because I love the way they feel,” she says. “I love the repetitive processes involved, the way colour works, and that colour can be a thing, a line of yarn, a block of cross-stitch, a ball of wool. I also use textiles because they lend themselves to pattern making: in the construction of knit or cross-stitch or darning, there are grids and rows that link together, and you have to teach your hands to relax, to settle, to lead the making."
Celia has exhibited at the Royal College of Art in London and beyond, but it was an old jumper originally belonging to her great-uncle that sparked Celia’s interest in repairs and darning. “I was overwhelmed by the care invested by my aunt in mending his sweaters, and the way the different bits of mending looked together, how the holes gave clues as to how the sweater was used.”
If you share Celia's passion for much used and loved clothing and textiles, we still have a couple of places available on her workshop and we would be delighted if you could join us at what is a particularly beautiful time of year for these parts.  With the kids' holidays over, fares cheaper and the general atmosphere much more relaxed and inspirational whilst still buzzing with brocantes  and marchés it's the perfect time of year.  

For those of you visiting from afar who can squeeze in a few more extra days, we are hosting another wonderful Gigspanner Concert on Friday, 18th September, just days before Celia's workshop.  Staying here you will have an opportunity to meet and mingle with Steeleye Span's fiddler, Peter Knight, his musicians Roger Flack and Vincent Salzfaas. Bring a partner and we'll give you a special deal. For more information we recommend you  take a minute to watch the video below to the very end - it just gets better and better. Gigspanner were invited by BBC Radio 3 to perform at the Shakespeare 400 Celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the ‘Shakespeare and Music’ concert, highlighting Peter's virtuoso fiddling as well as the superb guitar work and Afro-percussion from Roger and Vincent.   Tickets can be bought on-line below.  
5 things to check out this month:

UK's Craft Magazine is celebrating its Summer Issue with drinks, music and craft show in Central London next week.  Email to accept invitation.

Keep an eye on one of our favourite online shops for vintage European goodies, Dee Puddy
The Festival of Quilts, 11th - 14th August, NEC, Birmingham, England is still a month away, but you can buy tickets online now. There will be over 300 exhibitors offering essential supplies, international artists/crafters and a display of over 700 competition quilts. Advertised as the ultimate quilting experience.

Thanks to our current favourite knitting workshop leader, Åsa Soderman, I have finally found the gorgeous navy blue cashmere yarn I have been searching for many a year!  It comes from a Belgium company, Pascuali and I can't wait to start on my next knitting project.  This yarn comes in half a dozen other great colours, and I have marked their Alpaca Fino, 100% alpaca wool for something a tad more wintery.

With changes on the horizon, for everyone including Les Soeurs Anglaises, we are planning a really special project for next year (our 10th Anniversary) with Toy Maker extraordinaire, Robert Race. We're not going to say too much at this stage, but if your curiosity has been tweaked let us know and we'll keep you to the minute with developments.
Book tickets now
Weddings these days need to planned months, if not years, ahead so if you (or someone you

know) hasn't yet chosen the perfect venue, our wonderful studio space and accommodation might be just the ticket.  Another soeur, Carol Temple, of Simply French Weddings recently organised and supervised another wedding celebration at Les Soeurs Anglaises and  feedback has confirmed what we have long believed…..that it is the perfect venue for a smaller, more intimate celebration (40-90 guests) offering stylish celebration space and accommodation;  and with Simply French Weddings taking all the stress and strain out of what can easily become a demanding and tense occasion, what’s not to like?

In October we are joining forces to offer a long weekend to couples so that they can experience the comfort and beauty of LSA's venue, whilst familiarising themselves with the superb and friendly services that SFW  offer (styling, taster menus, champagne & wine tastings, hairdresser, make-up artist, photographer, music, etc.).  Included in the price of the B&B weekend we’ll also be providing a short taster workshop for DIY wedding favours and decorations.   And should a couple decide to hold their Big Day here, the weekend B&B charges will be deducted from the final cost of the event.

Contact Carol directly for a chat or more information and availability:
T +33 (0)5 53 91 19 92
M+33 (0)6 95 05 13 02

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

...... summertime time

We've hosted two fab workshops since our last newsletter. The first was a Knitting Masterclass led by Åsa (pronounced Awsa) Söderman of Åsa Tricosa fame;  we - and I include myself as I was lucky enough to spend a few hours watching and learning - discovered new and exciting ways to knit pullovers and cardigans, in the round, and from the top down which makes sizing and shaping sooooo much easier.  Asa is an ebullient and thoughtful teacher and one we very much hope to have back next year for a longer stint.


The second event was with Julie Arkell, our perennial favourite. This year she was helping participants put together a bird table, demonstrating papier maché, knitting and stitching skills with her usual flair and enthusiasm. A smaller group than usual but even more fun, if that's possible.  The smaller group also gave Les Soeurs a better opportunity to get to know and enjoy, the participants and our view is that in future we will try to keep numbers to a minimum.  More time and attention for everyone.


This last photograph was taken by a young and very gifted photographer, Alexander Hamdy who was here at the beginning of Julie's workshop to take pictures of the property.  The weather was only periodically sunny during his visit, but Alex managed to produce an album of detailed beauty and we can't wait to see all the photographs together on our new website in September.  
The next few months are going to be quiet ones at Les Soeurs Anglaises - unusual for us during the summer months, but not unwelcome.  2017 will be our 10th year offering workshops;  we were amongst the first in this part of the world but are one amongst many these days, and our plan for next year is to shake things up a bit (or slow them down).  We'll keep you posted, but in the meantime we have a couple of places available on both our remaining workshops in 2016.

The first is for the Celia Pym's 5-day workshop, Knitting Darning and Mending at the end of September, followed closely by the gently remarkable Claire Wellesley Smith'Dyeing and Stitching weekend event in October.  Both are formidable talents well-researched in the art of recycling, repairing and using cloth, dye and stitch as carriers of the natural and social history of place, heritage and memory.  We are thrilled that they will both be joining us and look forward to inspirational teaching.  

To book a place on either workshop go to our website booking pageor email me directly

We generally only sell our aprons in the wee brocante we have on site, but if you're in the mood this summer to wear a pretty, comfortable and one-off apron, we currently have a few of our wrap-over linen aprons for sale in various colours and each trimmed with vintage fabric, on  Etsy.
All the best

7 things to check out this month:

Visit Chris Manning's Pinterest page and wonder at her exquisite quilts.  Chris has been a participant at several of our workshops and we are hoping one day she will join us to teach her own quilting workshop.

There's still time to join us for Lizi Bolton's Silver Yoga this month (23rd to 29th June).  Come as our B&B guest and you'll get your yoga classes at half-price, bring a non-participating partner and enjoy a relaxing week away from the stresses of everyday life!  Contact Lizi directly for more information.

If you're around North London during the third week of June, we recommend a visit to GROW, the brainchild of entrepreneur Will Ramsay, founder of the hugely successful Affordable Art Fair, which is now a global brand with fairs in 14 major cities around the world.  There will be a myriad selection of plants and other garden ephemera, and say hello to stall holders All the Fun of the Fair where you'll find everything from vintage buttons to knitted cacti.

We have long admired the machine embroidery of Linda Miller if you can't make it to one of her very popular workshops, you will find her and her work at the Contemporary Craft FestivalBovey Tracey, Devon UK this upcoming weekend (10th/12th June).

We recently bought 4 skeins of Gotland 4ply yarn from The Little Grey Sheep mail order company and have already started knitting a Julie Arkell original cardigan pattern with this absolutely delicious soft wool which is hand sheared, spun with care and expertise, and finally hand-dyed in scrummy colours!

Voices of Industry offer organically grown cotton yarn for weaving and crochet, spun by a family mill in North Carolina. Their credo is:  "We consider the farmers who grow our cotton and wool as co-conspirators and friends.  Our work is an extension of agriculture and we care deeply about that origin."



Tuesday, 19 April 2016

.... bring a partner for free .....

Those Romans really could nail an attitude with just a word or two, as illustrated by their maxim, Carpe Diem. Let's face it, life is way too short to sit around listening to the increasingly raucous Brexit canvassing when you could be out there getting on with your life, learning something new and expanding your network of like-minded crafters/friends.  Now is exactly the right time to get away for a weekend of sitting blissfully unconstrained by "in" or "out" questions, whilst learning innovative knitting skills from someone who understands the important restorative joy of creating with style and colour.   

Åsa Söderman's Knitting Masterclass  here at the end of this month (April) will provide the perfect break from it all, and with this in mind we'd like to make an eleventh hour proposal to our European followers (or from further afield if you're feeling adventurous):  If you book and pay for a luxury room ("B" with twin or double beds) and can persuade a non-participant friend or partner to just tag along for a taste of the good life they can experience the quiet joy of sitting around the pool reading a book or taking long walks in the beautiful countryside of South West France, free of charge, whilst you get on with the knitting job at hand.*  The only expense would be their travel to our local airport (Bergerac) or train station (Angoulème) - and having just checked out Ryanair, flights are still looking incredibly cheap.  Local transport, accommodation and all food for them would be included in the offer! Don't delay though..... email usASAP as we only have two rooms now available and we hate disappointing.  

*Price includes a shared twin/double luxury room, local transport, all meals and the Knitting Masterclass workshop for 1 person.  Offer open until Thursday, 21st April 2016 only.


with Asa Tricosa
30th April / 1st May 2016

Suitable for intermediate & advanced knitters
Following Åsa's Knitting Masterclass we will be welcoming back the lovely Julie Arkell.  One of our participants has had to drop out for health reasons so we can offer a place on her workshop here 1st-7th June.   No need to go on about Julie and her workshops - she's one of the most creative and generous and popular workshop leaders around.  Contact us for accommodation options now available.

All the best


7 things we've loved this month:

How To Be A Craftivist: the art of gentle protest.  Sarah Corbett, creator of the Craftivist Collective, has published her second inspirational book on how to change the world one stitch at a time.

A very good reason to visit Australia, The Craft Sessions website based in the Yarra Valley Estate, Victoria, offer a myriad of mouthwatering textile workshops.

We've long admired Alabama Chanin's view of the fashion business and her Aria organic cotton, nylon and elastic socks are the perfect spring accessory.


Dawn Nicol's website is full of calligraphy treats both free and not so free.  Visit her website for 10 Hand Lettering Practice Workshops and sign up for her newsletter

If you're a fan of Theo Jansen's exquisite beach Strandbeests then you'll be as excited as us to find you can now purchase small model versions to make at home.  We know several men in my family whose birthday presents are now sorted.  Forget the birthdays, we want to make one ourselves!

We love the esprit de coeur of these two ladies, as well as the Maltese musician Ozzy Lino who began to sing along with them on a Frankfurt train last week.  Now that's community!

Our bold and beautiful Silver Yoga workshop leader, Lizi Bolton who also happens to be one of Les Soeurs, is currently walking from the Dead Sea to Petra in Jordan, to raise funds for Cambodian Children's Fund UK, a children's charity we have supported for over 5 years. If you'd like to make a donation you can do so at Just Giving.