Thursday, June 17, 2010

Discover This: Jannio

This installment of the Discover This series takes us all the way to France with two friends Janine and Isabelle who make the most delightful felted accessories I've ever seen.  One day while browsing the Etsy forums I was intrigued by their shop's avatar, gave it a click, and fell instantly in love with every single listing!  The color combinations and styles of this pair's items are so uniquely beautiful that I'm finding it difficult to pick just one item as a favorite because I love them ALL!  So it is with great excitement that I present to you Jannio.
(Please right-click on the link below each image to enter their Etsy shop in a new window.)

Name: Janine and Isabelle

Location: We are lucky enough to live in the south west of France. The region of the perigord vert. Castles, grape vines, cepes (wild mushrooms) and much more.

Description of work: We create felt wear: hats, scarves and bags by using merino wool.

How long have you been creating your items? We have been creating together for about five years now.

How did you get started? I think we can say it was through our friendship. Isabelle had already started to learn the basics. Thanks to our sons being friends we also formed a friendship. Isabelle was making a hat one day so I joined in and loved it.

Where do you get your inspiration for your designs? That’s easy:  all around us. The seasons here are so inspiring for us. The colors in this area are amazing sometimes! Also we inspire each other when we work together. A great team!

Do you sell your items? Mainly through our shop on Etsy. Sometimes we do Christmas markets and fairs. Friends of friends also buy our work.

Do you have any formal training, or are you self-taught artists? Isabelle: I have had no formal training at all completely self taught.  Janine: I started off in Art College in Textile Design and Photography. I left all that for awhile to bring up my family. Isabelle taught me the art of felt making.

Please tell us why someone would benefit from purchasing your designs. We think that our designs are unique, each piece is handmade by us using the purest merino wool from Germany. We also incorporate the technique called nuno-felting" technique (felt and fabric). This is made by using pure merino wool, and cotton fabric. Merino wool fibers are spread thinly upon a cotton or silk fabric. The result is a light, soft and warm hat. We try always to use only the best materials available.

Anything else you’d like to share?  Hats and bags are what we like to make the most. There is so many shapes, forms, and color combinations. Endless possibilities. The bags we make are a challenge for us. There we can let our imagination go wild. We use the wool like an artist uses his paint pallet, mixing and trying different color combinations.

Special thanks to Janine and Isabelle for kindly agreeing to participate in the Discover This series on the JMO blog.  Ladies, you're awesome!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wednesday Wishlist: Random Wants

For this week's Wednesday Wishlist, I bring you my current Top 10 List of Random Wants:

1.  Meet Beck.  This guy is freaking brilliant.  There isn't a single one of his songs that I don't like.
Seriously, he's a musical genius.  Beck, I love you.
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2.  A country cottage in the woods.  I want to relish in the peace and quiet, just me and nature,
without a neighbor in sight for at least half a mile.
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3.  My kids graduating from high school.  They'll all be 18 when that happens and I will then be fully entitled to kick them out of my house.  I love them dearly, but I'll love them more when they're gone.  :)
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4.  Open the J May Cafe.  A quaint little establishment serving fine homemade cuisine.  Stop in for a light meal or a cup of coffee and some good conversation.  You're always welcome.
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5.  Open the J May Boutique.  Another quaint little establishment offering the finest handmade goods around.  Would love to combine the boutique and cafe together.
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6.  A money tree.  Money doesn't grow on trees you say?  Nonsense!   Look at the picture.
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7.  Love.  Period.
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8.  Peace.  Period.
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9.  Learn to play guitar.  I can rock out on air guitar like it's nobody's business, but if I learn to play the real thing maybe Beck will ask me to join him on tour.
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10.  Happiness.  For you, for me, for everybody.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wednesday Wishlist: For the Love of Fabric

The Wednesday Wishlist is back with fabulous fabric finds from Etsy sellers.  I already have a nice size fabric stash at home, but there's nothing wrong with wanting to grow it some more, is there?  Fabric is such a versatile medium to create with...the list of possibilities goes on and on and on:  apparel (of course), pillow covers, curtains and valances, belts, bags, scarves, headwraps, flora and fauna, just to name a few.  So while my sewing machine and I dream up more ways to use the fabric in my current stash, I add these lovelies to my wishlist.

Please show these shops some love by right clicking on their name and select to open link in a new window.

Patricia Bravo Art Gallery - Bubblegum Lollipops

Amy Butler Martini Fabric in Gray

Dogwood Bloom/Lake by Joel Dewberry

Robert Kaufman Chopsticks Please, Sushi on Lime

Peace Group by Michael Miller

Coral Garden Organic Designer Fabric

Comso Cricket Stripey Squares

Paris Eiffel Tower Cotton Fabric

Henna Garden in Brown

Barnyard Sheep Fabric

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How I Became A Hooker

I interrupt the weekly Wednesday Wishlist series to bring you a special post explaining how I became a hooker.  No, no, not THAT kind of hooker, but the kind that takes a ball of yarn and transforms it into something unique, useful, and beautiful by way of a nifty little tool called a crochet hook.  The idea for this story comes from the wonderfully talented Create Crochet Team on Etsy, of which I am proud to be a member.  Team members were issued the challenge of writing about how they came to learn their craft as a way of keeping up on their blogs (if they have one, that is).   So without further delay, I give you my story...


“No thanks, Ma, I really don’t want to learn how to do that.” This was the answer I gave my mother when I was just a young girl of about twelve, leaning against her on the living room couch as she sat there crocheting yet another afghan. “Why do you always crochet stuff?” I asked her, to which she replied “It relaxes me. You want me to show you how to do it?” I winced and left the room, leaving her to work on what I considered to be just another useless but colorful object to throw across the neglected chair in the corner of the room that no one ever used.

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More than twenty-five years later I decided it was time to take up a hobby, and I chose crochet. While visiting my local craft store, I discovered one of those “Learn-To-Crochet” kits that provide you with everything necessary to get you started. I immediately tore open the kit when I got home, eager to get started on my new hobby. The second I placed that crochet hook in my hand and wrapped that yarn around my fingers I was transported back to that night on the living room couch…..I could almost feel my mother’s presence next to me, gently easing me along. “Not too tight,” I imagined her saying as I desperately tried to finagle the tip of my hook through an extremely tight stitch. “There, that’s better,” she’d say as I finally got the hang of it and my starting chain grew to about three feet in length. As the process became easier, I too realized just how relaxing this newfound hobby of mine can be.

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It wasn’t long before I was comfortable enough to venture beyond the starting chain. I was working row upon row of single crochet and even though my little beginner project was nothing more than a rectangle, I was MAKING something. Completely on my own, completely from scratch…..this little creation was all mine. Three years later I was creating my own designs…..wristlets, hats, scarves, tank tops….and had taken my hobby to the next level. The satisfaction that comes with each completed project is immeasurable. I never considered myself to be the creative type, and such was my reason for rejecting my mother’s generous offer to teach me crochet all those years ago. But I’ve since realized that all it takes is a little determination and patience, and the firm belief that you can do anything you put your mind to, and you’re on your way to creating your own little works of art.

Lady Luxe Twisted Brim Cocoa Brown Cap with Feather Accent
made by me!  This item sold in my Etsy shop, but I can always
crochet up some more. ;-)

It's been about 6 years since I bought that kit at the craft store, and I've been hooked on crocheting ever since (pun totally intended!).  I've even been broadening my yarny horizons, and have taken up Tunisian crochet, knitting, and even a bit of spinning.  Crochet is actually a form of therapy for me.  After a hectic day I love to sit on the couch and lose myself in whatever project I'm working on at the moment...whether it's a new hat design, or scarf, or shawl, or colorful bowl worked up in wool to be felted later.

I love all the fiber arts, but crocheting is my most favorite. In retrospect, I wish I would've let my mom teach me all those years ago.  But I'm crocheting now, and that's all that matters to me.

Wednesday Wishlist will resume June 9, 2010.