Saturday, July 30, 2011

La vie en Rose

 My French Flower

My obsession with flowers continues to bloom!

I can now create beautiful silk flowers in the age-old technique of French flower making, thanks to my class yesterday with milliner artist  Jan Wutkowski

Jan flew all the way out from North Carolina to teach
French Flower Making at
 Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley, California. 

 I always thought I would have to travel to  London or Australia to learn the secrets of traditional French flower making.  Thanks to Lacis and Jan's class, I now have the tools and secrets to create beautiful silk flowers in the French tradition. 

 French Flower Making
with Jan Wutkowski

Jan is an American milliner who trained at the Melbourne School of Millinery in 1995.  She has been designing and making hats since 1996.  Today she is not only is a milliner and teacher but also owns A Muse in Wilmington, North Carolina. 

Over lunch with Jan, I had the chance to get to know Jan the designer.  I was rather curious where her love for hats began and interestingly enough it began with her love for vintage jewelry.  Well, that makes perfect sense...vintage jewelry, hats, gloves all from other glamorous eras.   I loved hearing her stories about her brides and the one-of-a-kind hats she creates for the them. 

Of course, I couldn't wait to ask Jan if hats and fascinators are more popular today due to the Royal Wedding.  Jan quickly told me that fascinators can be many different things in millinery and they have been around a long time.  Yes, the Royal Wedding has made millinery more popular here in America but Jan is always busy with her clientele.  She not only designs beautiful bridal millinery but keeps very busy with her "Kentucky Derby ladies".

As a designer, Jan spends her calender year with the first half creating beautiful hats during the busy bridal, garden and Derby season.  The second half of the year, she travels around the country (and the world) as a milliner teacher

My Silk Fabrics

The French Flower Making class began with a nice introduction from Jan.  Next Jan asked us to introduce ourselves and talk about our interest with flower making.  It was so neat to hear every ones story.  Most students were from the Bay Area.  A few, like me, travelled a few hours for the class and one young lady came all way from Mexico!  Most of the students were involved in millinery and fashion and some students just loved hats.

For me, I am not quite sure where this path will lead me.  I am somewhat interested in trying to combine the flowers with my knitting.  Then again, I love hats and vintage so I might just end up embellishing hats and making brooches.

 French Flowers

To create our flowers, Jan taught us the process in the traditional French method using heat tools. 

 The first step was preparing our fabrics and then letting them dry during our lunch break.  After lunch we cut flower petals for creating beautiful roses.  Next we learned how to use our heat tools and shape our petals.  By the end of the day, Jan showed us how to assemble our flowers and everyone finished the class with a beautiful rose!

Jan had told us early on in the day, that even though we all started out with the same pattern and instructions, each of our flowers would be unique.  She was so right.  I was so amazed at every ones fabric combinations and their beautiful results. 


I had so much fun taking this class. 

Thank you to Jules Kliot, the owner of Lacis for bringing Jan out to the west coast and for all your amazing supplies and resources! 

 Lacis has wonderful supplies for knitters, too.  I was so thrilled to find two handbag purse handles I've been searching for (even in England) and a hard to find Japanese crochet book.  Of course, I also came home with flower making books and supplies, too!

Lastly, Merci to Jan for sharing her knowledge of
French Flower Making
and for helping keep the craft alive!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sew Crafty!

Feeling Crafty!

I haven't been knitting much but...
I have been crafty!

Lately, I'm obsessed with flowers
Liberty of London prints!

Sew Crafty

I was pretty excited when Liberty of London and Target teamed up last year.  Let's just say, with Liberty at  Target prices, I stocked up on a lot of scarves.  I'm so glad I did because now I'm getting "crafty" with them.

For my recent trip to London I put together a Liberty ensemble to wear to tea.   I jazzed up my Liberty for Target basic scarf with a cute pom-pom trim and now it looks like it came from a London high-street shop! 

I also upcycled  another Liberty for Target scarf into a big ruffled flower that I can wear as a hair pin or brooch.  I can even pin it on some ruffly tulle and it makes a darling fascinator! 

Ta Da!

I can tell you now, that nothing beats wearing Liberty of London in London!

Of course, I had to wear my Liberty ensemble the day I went shopping at Liberty of London.  The Liberty ladies on the Haberdashery Floor all recognized my accessories made from their famous Liberty prints. 

I also wore my Liberty ensemble to the adorable tea room High Tea of Highgate in Highgate Village (outside of London) and the owner Georgina noticed my Liberty of London accessories, too.  I loved that and loved the tea room, too!

And yes...
I wore my Liberty flower as a fascinator to tea! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Searching for Sophie!

 That Scarf!

On my recent trip to Paris,  I went searching for French designer
Sophie Digard's exquisite crochet scarves. 

I was seriously ready to splurge on one but never had the chance. 

I did email the Sophie Digard website before my trip inquiring on Paris retailers but didn't receive a reply.  So I was left on my own searching for Sophie's scarves in Paris and came up empty handed.

I did have a Sophie sighting in London though before arriving in Paris.

I spotted a lady with a beautiful and colorful crochet scarf at London's Portobello Road Antique Market. 
I stopped her to compliment her and ask her if she made her scarf?  She was so thrilled to have her scarf admired and proudly told me "I bought it an expensive boutique in Sweden".
I knew immediatley it just had to be a Sophie Digard scarf...
and, of course, it was!

I Can do That!

So now my latest idea is to crochet my own scarf  inspired by a Sophie Digard scarf. 

I've been searching on Ravelry for pattern ideas and  now I'm obsessed with Japanese flower scarves

 My Ravelry friend Teresa in England is crocheting Japanese flower scarves and suggested I check out Lucy's Attic24 blog for inspiration.  Thank you, Teresa!  Lucy's blog is very inspiring, she has a fan club of over 4,000 members (including me now) on Ravelry in the We Love Lucy group. 

I'm hoping to go to Japantown in San Francisco soon to buy some Japanese crochet books.  In the mean time, I picked up this I Taught Myself Crochet kit to help get me started. It's been over 40 years since my Great Grandmother G.G. taught me how to crochet a granny square. 

Wish me luck! 

PS:  I've just discovered that my favorite yarn store in London, Loop is carrying Sophie Digard scarves and accessories in their online you don't have to go all the way to Paris, afterall.

(Top photo credit Sophie Digard Creations)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mollie Makes

 Mollie Makes Issue Two

There's nothing I love better than a cup of tea
and a new magazine!

Mollie Makes is my favorite new British magazine.  This adorable magazine has taken the crafting and publishing world by storm.   

 Issue Two hasn't even hit the US stands yet but I already own it. I just couldn't I ordered Issue Two online from my favorite yarn store in London, Loop.  It was worth every penny spent on shipping to be ensured I received it and its cute little Flower Felt Kit, too. 


I like Issue Two even better than Issue One. 

I love the sweet and vintage inspired cover project, Strawberry Pincushions by Eirlys Penn.  The magazine not only gives you clear directions on how to make them but also a neat little history  "The Story Behind The Strawberry".  Love that and can't wait to make them!

You can read more about EirlysPenn at her website

Issue Two is also filled with pages of inspiration for crafting, collecting and thrifting.  I love staying "in the know" with the wonderful blogs and cute shops that Mollie Makes shares with us.

 Feeling Crafty?

Everyone loves a "freebie" including me!

One of the neatest things about British magazines is that they often include a free gift!  On my trips to England, I've snagged British magazines with free gifts including an Anya Hindmarch change purse and Cath Kidston pouches and bags. 

Mollie Makes is including a free little-crafty kit with every issue.  Demand has exceeded supply so some issues have not include the free-gift.  I didn't want to miss out on the free-gift with Issue Two so that's why I ordered it from Loop.  I can't wait to get crafty now and make some felt flowers!

 Vintage Chic

The granny square is re-born! 

Another reason I'm excited about Issue Two is Jane Brocket's Starburst Flower Crochet Blanket.  Jane's pattern is from her new book The Gentle Art of Knitting and the pattern is included in the magazine.

I haven't made granny squares since my G.G. (great-grandmother) taught me how to make them when I was a little girl.  I love how they've made a comeback and I can't wait to try my hand at crochet again.   

Jane Brocket says  "This blanket made from "starburst flower" squares was inspired by the many granny square blankets I have seen on blogs and in magazines, as well as the actual crocheted blankets I saw as I was growing up".

I couldn't wait to have my Mom pull out my G.G.'s Granny Square Blanket (vintage 1960's) so I could use it for this photo shoot!

 How Does Your Garden Grow?

I used to do a little embroidery work as young girl, too.  My mom still has the flour-sack towel tucked away that my G.G. taught me my very first embroidery stitches. 

I haven't embroidered in ages except maybe for a few French knots here and there.  Seeing Charlotte Lyons beautiful embroidery work in this issue, just might change that. 

You can find out more about Charlotte at her website


Lastly, I love the article Why You Should Visit Bath!  Trust does not need a reason to visit Bath.  It is one of my favorite cities in all of England to visit!  

On my recent trip to Bath in May, I visited Wool, the wonderful knitting emporium.   Wool's owner Laura referred me to The Makery where I picked up the premier issue of Mollie Makes. 

Here's a list of some of my other favorite places in Bath:

Jane Austen Center & The Regency Tea Room, The Pump Room, Sally Lunns, Cath Kidston, The Royal Crescent, Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, Brora, Rossiters of Bath, Jamie Oliver's Italian, Whittard of Chelsea, Tilleys Bistro and HRH Highgrove Shop.

Now that I've discovered Mollie Makes I bet I'll be adding even more places that I'll want to visit on my next trip across the pond! 

Issue Three of Mollie Makes is now out in the UK.  It typically gets to the US about a month later...
I'm not sure I can wait that long!