Les Soeurs Anglaises


February Blues.. and reds and .....

These days there is a lot to be concerned about, but let us not get too bogged down in negativity. Spring is surely on its way with all the colour and promise of a warmer season. So here are a few thoughts that might suggest how we can change a negative to a positive:


German commuter and knitter Claudia Weber travels to Munich regularly from her town Moosburg in the Bavarian countryside. Due to track repairs which began last year, her train commute was replaced with a bus service that would often be delayed for up to 30 minutes or longer. Weber decided to start detailing her daily travel troubles by translating the delays into a wool scarf. Each evening after she returned home she would add two new rows to her textile work— gray for any delay under five minutes, pink for when she had to wait up to 30 minutes, and bright red for a delay that lasted more than a half hour or was in both directions.

She titled her metre-long finished work “Bahn-Verspätungsschal,” or “rail delay scarf,” which went viral after it was posted by her daughter Sara on Twitter. After becoming a hit, she decided to auction it off on eBay to raise money for  a charity that provides assistance at train stations. The scarf sold to an undisclosed buyer for 7,550 euros or $8,650. Although Weber remains a loyal commuter on the Munich-Moosburg train, this year she has again started a new scarf.


The labour intensive art of hand lace-making may have gone out fashion, but Polish artist, NeSpoon, creates spray-painted murals and textile installations based on traditional lace motifs. Her public paintings often stretch the height of multi-story urban structures, while her yarn works cling to passageways and trees like enlarged spiderwebs. Recent public pieces include this equisite mural for the Museum of Fine Art and Lace (Musée des Beaux-arts et de la Dentelle) in Alençon, France based on the designs of French lace makers Brigitte Lefebvre and Thérèse Lemoine, a piece for the Emergence Festival in Valverde, Sicily, and textile installations across Finland, Armenia, Germany, and Poland. You can follow her upcoming travels and view new installations on Instagram and Behance.


OK, it might not be the right season to visit the seaside (or maybe it is?) but there’s nothing to stop us crocheting up a few crustaceans to remind us of sunnier days by the sea. English textile artist Kate Jenkins has been recreating veggies, seafood, and other favourite foods in wool for the last 12 years. She got her start in knitwear design, but began to focus on knitting feasts rather than fashions and in 2015 made her largest installation to date, crocheting dozens of sardines, mussels, clams, shrimp, prawns, lobsters, crabs and other delights from the sea for a full-size fish counter titled “Kate’s Place the Stitchmongers” in Alexander Palace in London. Jenkins is currently working on her follow-up exhibition to “Kate’s Place” titled “Kate’s Bakes” which will switch from seafood to wheat in a life-size bakery that will be exhibited at the Handmade Festival in Barcelona this May. She hopes to tour the piece around the world, stopping in London, Paris, and New York, and incorporate localized treats for each destination.

To sweep the winter blues away, we are opening our seasonal events with a wonderfully romantic recital - Debussy, Chopin and more - by the young, Dutch concert pianist and we have available a couple of residential places for classical music enthusiasts who might be interested in getting up close and personal with a ascendant star, over the three days of his stay here.


As far as we’re concerned there is only one place to be come 2nd February and that is London when the Victoria & Albert museum  will be opening its doors to "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams." Expanding on last year's Paris couture exhibition, which we sadly missed but heard so much about, ("Christian Dior: Couturier du Reve") the V&A has extended the offering by a whopping 60%, making this the largest, most in-depth look into the house of Dior to date with over 500 pieces and 200 couture gowns alone.  As is to be expected, it charts the brand's history from 1947 to present day, celebrating the life and works of Christian Dior and his six subsequent successors to the helm of the house. In a novel twist by V&A curator Oriole Cullen, the exhibition also explores Dior's special relationship with Britain, revealing the U.K. to have played a surprisingly large part in what could be considered the most "French" brand on earth. Book your tickets now!

This is a book I have bought for my grandsons which I hope they will dip into and be creatively inspired by as they grow up. Below is a description of the book written by the author, Maria Popova, herself; thoughts that I think could be applied to any work of creativity.

One of the great cruelties and great glories of creative work is the wild discrepancy of timelines between vision and execution. When we dream up a project, we invariably underestimate the amount of time and effort required to make it a reality. Rather than a cognitive bug, perhaps this is the supreme coping mechanism of the creative mind — if we could see clearly the toil ahead at the outset of any creative endeavor, we might be too dispirited to begin, too reluctant to gamble between the heroic and the foolish, too paralyzed to walk the long and tenuous tightrope of hope and fear by which any worthwhile destination is reached. If eight years ago, someone had told me that A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader  would take eight years, I would have laughed, then cried, then promptly let go of the dream. And yet here it is, all these unfathomable years later, a reality — a collection of original letters to the children of today and tomorrow about why we read and what books do for the human spirit, composed by 121 of the most interesting and inspiring humans in our world: Jane Goodall, Yo-Yo Ma, Jacqueline Woodson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Mary Oliver, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Rebecca Solnit, Elizabeth Gilbert, Shonda Rhimes, Alain de Botton, James Gleick, Anne Lamott, Diane Ackerman, Judy Blume, Eve Ensler, David Byrne, Sylvia Earle, Richard Branson, Daniel Handler, Marina Abramović, Regina Spektor, Elizabeth Alexander, Adam Gopnik, Debbie Millman, Dani Shapiro, Tim Ferriss, Ann Patchett, a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor, Italy’s first woman in space, and many more immensely accomplished and largehearted artists, writers, scientists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, musicians, and adventurers whose character has been shaped by a life of reading.


Even if you could sew at the speed of light, and with the best will in the world, I doubt you would be able to make this heartfelt quilt to present to your beloved on Valentine’s day this year. But with the free pattern, and instructions, available at Cluck Cluck Sew, you might be inspired to start something for 2020?

Just a note to say that places on our joint Arkell/Pym workshop, A Quiet Adventure, is now fully booked, but we still have a couple of spots available our Knitting Im-Mercerie III and Snippets and Stitches.. If you had considered joining us for one of these, but have been hesitating, then we recommend moving quickly to avoid disappointment. Should you need help deciding, or information regarding the workshop, venue or travel needs , then we are here to help - please let us know.

Happy Creativity until then


katie armitageComment