Welcome to this week's Friday Feature Newsletter - the Janie Crow equivalent of a Sunday supplement magazine....
I start this newsletter with a hugh THANK YOU to all of you who took the time to email after our horrible experience last week - it means so much to know that you have been sending us your love and best wishes. We are pretty much sorted now and are very grateful that very little was taken and no one was hurt.
It has been a busy week here at Janie Crow and it is hard to believe that we are now heading full throttle into the autumn season. The weather has been beautiful and still a little warmer than usual, so the transition period over autumn from my beloved summer months into the winter is less of a shock than usual and it still seems odd to be thinking about cosy fireside evenings and chunky sweaters. Here in North London people seem at a loss as to how to dress due to the unusually warm weather - some people are still sporting T shirts, sandals and summer dresses, whilst others have their winter boots and jackets on - it is so strange to see such a mix as I walk through our town!
I have spent that last couple of days at The Knitting and Stitching Show here in London. The lovely guys at Black Sheep Wools have very kindly given me an area on their stand in the main hall and it was fabulous to be given such a warm welcome there yesterday. This afternoon I will be on the Stylecraft stand for a couple of hours and then tomorrow I will be back on the Black Sheep stand, which is C15/6 down by the rose window - please drop over and say hello if you are visiting.
After countless false starts, this is the week when I finally get to talk briefly about Charleston Farmhouse and the nearby Berwick Church, which Andy and I visited back at the beginning of September. It seems a while ago now, especially as so much has happened since, but we had a fabulous weekend and I urge you, if you are ever down in Sussex and have the time, to go and visit. You can find my piece further down this email, along with some information about a couple of our forthcoming trips.
I hope, as always, that this newsletter finds you well. If you have anything you would like to share with us, please hit reply.
Charleston Farmhouse & Berwick Church
At the outbreak of the first World War in July 1914 many young men volunteered to go to war, however in 1916 the British Government passed the Military Service Act which specified that all single men aged 18 to 40 years old were liable to be called up for military service unless they were widowed with children or ministers of religion. Stanley Spencer and his Slade counterparts such as Mark Gertler, Isaac Rosenberg and Paul Nash, were all sent to contribute to the war effort - their subsequent art and written work later reflecting their experiences of wartime. However, as pacifists, most of the members of the Bloomsbury Group were conscientious objectors of the war and so they made the decision to leave London and find work on the land rather than face the persecution that many other objectors were subjected to.
Vanessa Bell, her children, Duncan Grant and the writer David Garnett moved to Charleston Farmhouse in 1916. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, yet close to the town of Lewes, which connected to London via the train line, the farmhouse, along with Virginia Woolf’s nearby retreat ‘Monks House’ became a focal point for the Bloomsbury Group. Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant both lived at Charleston until their deaths (in 1962 and 1978 respectively) and within their time there they both produced many fabulous works of art, textile, rug and furniture designs, whilst also decorating their home and working on the fabulous murals at the nearby St Michael and All Angels church in Berwick village.
During the first world war, when the members of the Bloomsbury Group first arrived at Charleston, the land around the house was used for vegetable plots and chicken runs, but Vanessa and Duncan later transformed it into the garden of today using plans by Roger Fry as their guideline for the layout. The garden is not huge – it is walled to divide it from the original farm buildings and features a large pond, which makes a focal point for fabulous views across the garden and out onto the surrounding Sussex countryside from the front of the house. Formal beds and areas where the planting is relaxed, mixing Mediterranean influences with cottage garden planting, creates a wonderful fluid feel to the garden and you can understand why it became a great focus in Vanessa’s life in particular. Whilst the garden provided her with a distraction from her paintings and artwork, Vanessa also used her garden as a kind of canvas, almost painting her flowerbeds with ‘a dithering blaze of flowers and butterflies and apples’.
I first visited Charleston when I was studying my degree in Textile Design at Winchester School of Art. Previous to this visit I had no idea who Duncan Grant or Vanessa Bell had been or what part The Bloomsbury Group, of which they were members, had played in the story of Modern Art. I think I probably visited the house about ten years after the death of Duncan Grant in 1978 and just a few years after it had been purchased by The Charleston Trust, part renovated and opened to the public.
With no expectations of what I was going to see and no prior knowledge of any of the many inhabitants of the house I remember being absolutely blown away by the surprising beauty of the interior décor. Each visit since has not disappointed and I always feel quite emotional about visiting.
In the past and in times of neglect, many areas of the house suffered with damp, which meant that lots of the hand painted surfaces had peeled and flaked. The house is now run by the Charleston Trust and they have spent many years renovating it, along with the surrounding gardens, to their former glory so that the house appears as it did in the 1950s, with reproduction carpets, rugs and textiles specially made to replace originals and many walls and pieces of furniture carefully returned to their for prior beauty by skilled craftspeople.
My CAL style project Bohemian Blooms was inspired by both the house and gardens and the murals painted predominantly by Vanessa and Duncan within the nearby church at Berwick. The patterns are available within a book, which features more information about my design inspiration and many step by step images.
Photography is prohibited within the Farnhouse, so to see pictures of the house decor I urge you to head over to the official Charleston web site.
Annie Sloan at Charleston
Annie Sloan is considered one of the world’s most respected paint and colour experts, she brings decades of knowledge – and plenty of style – to her hugely popular line of decorative paint, 'Chalk Paint' and with books, brushes, stencils, and fabrics, her inspirations are transforming more and more homes every day.
“Annie Sloan is one of "Britain's most influential female designers." The Telegraph
Annie discovered the Bloomsbury group of artists and their country retreat, Charleston farmhouse, whilst she was studying Fine Art. When the opportunity arose for her to collaborate with the Charleston Trust to create a unique range of Chalk Paint colours, it was a dream come true for Annie...
Annie's collaboration with Charleston has seen her create three distinctive paint colours inspired by the incredible home of the Bloomsbury group. Each of the colours are named after local places which the artists would have known and are inspired by elements of the highly decorated rooms within the British farmhouse.
Please note: All wording and the image above have been copied from the Annie Sloan web site. You can find more information about the paint ranges and Annie's inspiration by following this link to the web site.
Breidagen & KreaDoe
Towards the end of next week I will be travelling out to Holland along with a group of fabulous Stylecraft Blogstars to attend the Breidagen show in Zwolle in The Netherlands. I have only ever driven through Holland briefly on family trips to Germany, so I am really looking forward to visiting for longer.
The Breidagen show takes place from Friday 19th October to Saturday 20th and I will be teaching some mini workshops while I am there - you can find a list of all the workshops by following this link.
During the last week of October and the first week of November Andy and I will be exhibiting at The KreaDoe show in Utrecht. We are really excited to be taking Janie Crow to this show, especially as we are told it is one that appeals to crocheters in particular. We will be launching a blanket version of my new Summer Palace design in 2 colour ways at the show. I have put a sneeky peek image of the design below.
Kits for the new blankets, which are made using Stylecraft Life DK, will be available on our web site from the middle of November and the pattern only option will be available in the spring.
It's nearly the weekend!
Last night I attended the British Knitting and Crochet awards where I picked up the 'Highly Commended' award for Crochet Designer of the year. It was a lovely event, which reinforced the sense of community that the knitting and crochet industry has and I am really proud to have picked up this award. I will post some images as soon as I have some, but in the mean time I want to thank you all again wholeheartedly for your votes and kind wishes.
As I mentioned in last weeks (belated) newsletter, tickets for the workshops at next year's Edinburgh Yarn Festival go on sale via their web site tomorrow. You can view the classes by following this link.
This week the class lists for the Vogue Knitting Live New York show have also gone live and I am so excited to see our little bird logo on the exhibitors page - eek! VKLive have also released details of their VIP style packages and you can find these by following this link. General tickets for classes and the market place will go on sale soon.
We are looking forward to the weekend and all it has in store - as I already said, I will be at The Knitting and Stitching show on Saturday and then will be enjoying a home based day for most of Sunday. If you are coming to Alexandra Palace then I am sure you are set for a great weekend - if you have other exciting plans that you would like to tell us about, then do hit reply and let us know!
Next week I am very pleased to say that I will be posting a great article written by Juliet Bernard about her recent trip to Shetland Wool Festival. Juliet had an absolutely fabulous time and has given me access to lots of great photos - so make sure you don't miss it. Much love until then....
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