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.


Wednesday, 23 March 2016

..... spring into colour......

We've learnt over the years that creativity doesn't always follow an obvious route, and having just come to the end of yet another fabulous, week long Silver Yoga workshop here we're all feeling renewed, recharged and ready to spread our creative wings!

As luck would have it, the weather was mostly glorious, allowing us a few sessions on the terrace overlooking the fabulous surrounding countryside, and we were able to stretch and extend and discover our inner strengths after the long wet winter months.  There is another Silver Yoga week planned for the middle of June so if you are interested in discovering (or rediscovering) the joy of yoga, with intelligent and creative morning classes based on Hatha and Iyengar disciplines, book now as we like to keep classes small and personal.. Our Yoga expert, Liz Bolton, carefully designs each session for mixed levels, offering modifications for beginners, and greater levels of challenge for advanced students, always  with an emphasis  on safety, awareness, intelligence and ability. Residential guests can enjoy fresh mornings walking in the countryside followed by yoga, and afternoons free to lounge about the pool, visit local markets or explore a classic French village.  For prices contact Lizi directly.

For us, Spring's softness and simplicity and pastel colours always suggest northern Europe, more specifically Scandinavia.  If you are similarly smitten, then you won't want to miss our first event of the season, aKnitting Masterclass with Åsa Soderman.  Asa combines her quintessentially Scandinavian colour palette with a lifetime of knitting knowledge to produce her stylishly beautiful designs. With only a few weeks to go now and to give you a taste of what's in store over this Weekend Workshop we have chosen one of her shawl patterns, together with some fabulous yarn - of your choice -from a favourite hand-dyed yarn supplier, Dye For Yarns, as a free gift if you book within the next week (Wednesday, 30th March).  


With  Easter weekend upon us we were tickled pink by the possibilities of these delightful, non-fattening Easter eggs for all the family (tutorial on We Are Scout).  It surely wouldn't take long to decorate individual Easter bunny vases filled with tiny flowers for each place setting .... using the eggs themselves to serve up a delicious frittata with spring vegetables?

We're getting news trickling in from some of those lucky people who made it to this year's Edinburgh Yarn Festival by all accounts a roaring success.  Asa Soderman, (see above) was there of course giving classes, as was another favourite knitter of ours, Kate Davies who now has an on-line store selling her (moderately complicated) but entirely gorgeous fairisle inspired patterns and wools.  Shame we couldn't make the Festival this year, but we have it ear-marked for 2017.

Kate Davies and Ellen Mason in their own home knits
To continue the seasonal note, it's not to late to join us for Julie Arkell's workshop, Birds on a Table, at the beginning of June as another place has recently become available.  If you can step in we're extending our offer of a 10% discount but you'll probably need to contact us quickly as places are picked up quickly for this very popular teacher and event. 
You may have noticed the new logo for Les Soeurs Anglaises, designed by multi-talented calligrapher/graphic designer, Anja Savic, better known as "The Letterist" Anja generally works on commission - business cards, wedding invitations, book covers, websites and so on - but you can find some cards with her favourite quotes for sale at her web shop.  If you don't need her services just at the moment, we recommend you file her name away somewhere safe for the future.  She's a joy to work with, bubbling with creativity and happy to discuss any project!

Have a happy, hoppy Easter!

Katie  Susie  Carol