Friday, June 15, 2012

Normandy Sojourn: Bayeux, France - Town & Tapestry

Just a two-hour train ride from Paris, but a world away, is the town of Bayeux, set in the classic Normandy countryside, surrounded by apple orchards and the detritus of the hard-fought battles of World War II.

Though a tourist mecca, Bayeux is a relatively quiet place with its touchstones close at hand:  the War Memorials, the Bayeux Tapestry Museum, the Cathedral, Lace Conservation Center and its famous Calvados apple brandy, caramels and biscuits.  Worth a visit for history buffs, lace lovers and embroidery enthusiasts.
 Bayeux - a central player in European history from the Middle Ages to World War II
Bayeux is in the Calvados region -- noted for its brandy and other apple products

Tempting shops on Rue St. Martin, Bayeux

Not Paris!

Bayeux was almost undamaged during WWII

Bayeux's ornate Cathedral founded by Bishop Odo, half-brother of William the Conqueror

The charming Hotel d'Argouges, Bayeux

Annex of Hotel d'Argouges - bigger rooms on ground floor - comfortable!

The Bayeux Tapestry - before I realized there were no photos allowed - sorry!

WWII tank - a different take on Bayeux's history

Silk & bead embroidery at the Church of the Augustines, Bayeux

Traditional Lace of the region - made by nuns, of course.

Window of the Lace Conservation Center, Bayeux

Planning a visit to Normandy?  Contact Textile Travel for help creating a custom itinerary that can include a  tour of the World War II Normandy villages and beaches, Mont St. Michel, vineyards and perhaps a few days in Paris!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Color & Shape: Inspiration from Ancient Cultures

Love capturing images of beautiful design that could be useful in our fiber work:

Inspiring shapes and shades - would you believe from the 5th or 6th century B.C.?
From the Egyptian and Etruscan collections - British Museum, London.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

London - the January Sales

London's January sales for 2011 were pretty good, yarn-wise,
but otherwise - meh. Had much better luck shopping in
Oxford, where Debenham's and other High-Street shops held
a treasure-trove of cut-rate leather goods, outerwear and
costume jewelry. Even a U.S. shopper could do well here.

Many yarn stops this year, including Liberty, John Lewis,
and "indie" shops like Loop and the wonderful IKnit London.
Only it was so wet when I was out & about, I only was able
to capture the Fiber Madness at John Lewis, Oxford Street.
Here's a word I would recognize in any language:

And which colors just weren't "the thing" this year?

Another Big Question: what are London knitters wearing this winter? (Surreptitous research)

Last year's theme was "British Breeds" - this year's is "On Clearance, soft, and not easily found at home". The take:

To end a perfect shopping day, tea at a favorite haunt - Caffe Concerto, Kensington High Street:

And, of course, cake:

Fun with Kokeshi

For better or worse, Japan has been much in the news lately, raising the profile of Japanese culture here in the U.S. as we look for ways to respond to the country's plight and help its citizens.

I've always been fascinated by Japanese Kokeshi dolls, but never was much interested in the Amigurumi craze, which seems to be going strong in the crochet world, as evidenced by the activity in Ravelry's Amigurumi groups. Looking around for a fund-raising idea, I chanced upon the site of Bigu,a talented crocheter from Mexico, who, though mainly an amigurumi artist, had fashioned a Kokeshi bookmark that looked simple and pretty:

So I set out to create a prototype of a similar idea, perhaps for sale at the local library, proceeds going to the Red Cross for earthquake relief in Japan. My crude version of the above:

Not having any black thread on hand, my 'blondie' is a post-modern Kokeshi, but it was a quick & fun project until I got to the embroidery part -- maybe with some practice...

Bigu's Instructions in Spanglish are here.

Leave a comment if you want to order: $10 per bookmark, including shipping. All proceeds to Red Cross for Japan earthquake relief.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

UK Knitting Virtuosity at Ally Pally Show 2010

London Design Feast

Getting excited about my upcoming trek to the UK...beginning to plan the routes and make the must-see and must-do lists. Finding the wherewithal and creating the packing list can come later!

Textile-related venues and activities that are high on the list:

The Enchanted Palace, an installation that transforms Kensington Palace into an even more magical space, featuring several of the UK's outstanding designers referencing historical and modern princesses who've lived here.

More in

Fresh perspectives on old favorites, like plaid and handknitting, are hallmarks of the fall/winter collections at Dover Street Market.

Dover Street Market

This hipper-than-thou emporium showcases such names as Comme des Garcons and Adam Kimmel,
as well as up-and-coming young blood with new ideas about both fashion and display.
Love the London textile scene in all its iterations!

While in the neighborhood, we'll probably window-shop on Old Bond Street and see what's new at Cartier, Dolce & Gabbana and Ferragamo, just for fun. And perhaps pop into Ormonde-Jayne to sample some of their luxurious scented things!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Textile Travel Road Trip to Stitches East, Hartford CT, October 2010

The latest Textile Travel Road Trip was a great success!

Our group of fiber enthusiasts left Cape Cod in the early hours of Saturday, October 30, enroute to the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT, to shop and gawk at the Stitches East Market.

Dozens of vendors displayed a vast array of commercial and artisanal yarns, fibers, needles, buttons and all manner of accoutrements coveted by crocheters and knitters of all stripes. Attendees swanned around in stunning pieces of knitting and crochet virtuosity....inspiring!

Having attended many of these frenzied spend-fests, I vowed to limit my acquisitions to $100 worth of fibery goodness. First up, a nice fat (4 ounce, 435 yd) skein of silk-and-wool Tinkerbell by Ellyn Cooper, in the Fern Gully colorway, sparkling with sterling silver thread - tasty!

Next, venturing around the floor I came upon the new-to-me booth of Stichuary, featuring a lush collection of yarns from small producers...a kind of distributorship for small farmers?

The deep, dappled shades in Purple Haze called to me....and whaddaya know? it coordinates perfectly in both weight and tone with the Tinkerbell I just acquired.

Sold times two.

...And from the storehouse of delicacy called Habu, a cone of ultra-fine stainless steel thread, and one of a dusty violet fine merino, to complete my Jimi Hendrix-inspired theme of Purple Haze and Heavy Metal.

Now, to find or dream up a project that will incorporate these disparate elements into
a luxurious yet modest garment for MOI...

Every needleworker's dilemma: look, dream, fawn over and pet your stash; eventually the
perfect project will present itself. That, or you'll add it to your own personal Museum of Possibility - a win either way!

Oh wait, I forgot to check my wishlist, and here are the renowned Kollage Yarns Square Needles.
OK, I'll get one set of size 4 circs with the soft cable, just to test them out.

These will be good for many uses; bizarre feeling once they're in your hands... and I've been told that the soft cables can bend at the joint, but the verdict is not yet in. I will report back after engaging in friendly combat with these pups.

Much shopping, visiting and spending later, we repaired to the fabulous
Rein's deli in Vernon, CT enroute back to the Cape....great end to an awesome day!