Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Happy Valentine's Day!

Some might have seen on my Instagram that I fractured my elbow right before Christmas. My arm needed to be immobilised for six weeks, and hence, there's been a long absence on social media and this blog. While I still need physiotherapy and exercises to regain complete movement, life has returned to mostly normal. It is a reminder of how wonderful normal is!

It has also been a while since I added a new knot to the app, and I thought the Pretiola would be perfect for Valentine's Day as it resembles a silky heart:

In Latin, Pretiola means "little reward". According to legend, in 601 AD an Italian monk invented the treat to reward children who learned their prayers. He twisted strips of sweet dough to resemble children's arms crossed in prayer. He then baked the dough and hence invented the pretzel. 

When you tie this knot, there is a moment when the scarf resembles this "little reward", so I thought Pretiola would be a perfect name for it!

If you use IOS, the Pretiola is already available on the Scarf Art app. It will take a couple of days for Android devices to get through. 

If you want to find out more about the app, please click here

Or go to the Apple App Store here or Google Play here to download.

The tutorial should play right below; if not, please let me know in the comments below:

As always, you will also find a blog post on the app that compliments the tutorial:

What the knot highlights:

The diagonal axis is the visible part of your scarf tied in this knot. The main focus is on the ends and tips, as the centre is folded behind your neck. The Pretiola's "pretzel" is formed with the upper ends of your scarf.


You can vary the knot by wearing it closer or further away from the neck. The further you wear it from the neck, the shorter the ends become:

Worn closer to the neck, resulting in longer ends:


For a V-neckline, wear the Pretiola lower down to frame the neckline. With a button-up shirt, wear it close to the neck, like a cravat.

Size guide:

The Pretiola works with the following scarves:

90 Silk Twill 
90 Mousseline 
70 Vintage Silk 
140 Silk Twill/Summer Silk GM 
140 Mousseline GM 
140 Cashmere/Silk GM (you can bring the ends behind your neck and tie them together in a double knot)

In the meantime, spring has sprung here in the South of France. 

Almond trees are blossoming, vine fields are full of white and yellow flowering weeds, Mimosas are in full bloom, and pollen-covered bees are darting around the rosemary bushes in the garden. The early signs of spring never fail to fill the heart with optimism and joy!

Homegrown romanesco from my first winter vegetable garden:

Winter salad, also from the garden. It took months to grow and is surprisingly tender (summer salads only need a couple of weeks).

I hope you enjoy the new knot and wish you a happy Valentine's Day and a bright and beautiful spring ahead!


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Wall flowers!

As some of you may know, I attended a two-day workshop in London a couple of years ago that sparked a newfound love for arts and crafts projects. 

When I signed up, it did worry me a little bit that I hadn't held a paintbrush for decades; the last time would have probably been at art lessons in school. In fact, I wasn't too confident that I could produce anything worth hanging onto a wall but didn't want to miss out on the chance to meet the artists and host of the workshop and to spend an action-packed, and hopefully fun, weekend at the fabulous Ham Yard Hotel in London.    

On day one, appliqué artist Natasha Hulse would show how to create flowers with fabric, paint, and scissors, and the next day, renowned artist Melissa White would teach how to paint and decorate a wooden picture frame for the flowers that were made the day prior. The event was to be hosted by Kit Kemp and also include a guided tour of the Ham Yard Hotel's art collection and interior design highlights.  

We were a group of twelve; the atmosphere was fun and friendly and the surroundings were just beautiful and inspiring. Camaraderies formed and I'm still in touch with one of the lovely ladies.   However, on the first day I felt a good dose of panic due to my slow progress (as I said, I haven't hold a paint brush in decades), and despite having skipped lunch, I didn't manage to finish my flower by the evening. Consequently, there wasn't much time left to paint the frame on the second day. Out of desperation, I decided to go with bold and quick strokes, which really was the only option left under the circumstances. Melissa's optimism and confidence in my "work" were contagious and hugely encouraging, and so I managed to bring a finished artwork back to France after all. 

Back home, I began to practice the techniques and experiment with mixing colors and patterns. I also started to incorporate embroidery, which I got hooked on after watching tutorials by an Indian artisan that I accidentally came across on YouTube while on a train journey to Paris. I was amazed at the huge following she had and thought how wonderful it was that she could monetize her skills with just the help of a smartphone and internet access. I love the idea of how much affluence this must bring to her and her familiy, which a lifetime of embroidery for clothing or interior companies could probably never achieve. I've since discovered many more similar channels, all hugely popular and successful!

My workshop creation found a place in my kitchen, and after getting used to it, I thought, "hmm ... not so bad after all".  Since I needed some decoration for my showroom's entrance, I decided to make six more flower pictures to be hung left and right of it. As a homage to the workshop, I drew some of my color inspiration from my favourite Kit Kemp hotel, Number Sixteen, in London. The rest comes from nature, of course!

Reception area of Number Sixteen

Glorious pinks at one of my recent stays at Number Sixteen

There's hardly any inspiration needed for blue and green; it is one of my all-time favourite colour combinations. 

The cutout technique lets you put fabric samples to good use; here "Drayton Print" by LeeJofa.

As many of you already know, the upholstery fabric was designed by Melissa White for Kit Kemp, and since I had some leftover fabric, the grape detail became part of a pink flower.

The Honesty Bar/Library in the Number Sixteen Hotel is such a wonderful place to have a drink after a busy day in London, and its vibrant green, white and yellow color scheme inspired the next flower.

Blue and green, again!

Onto the frames ...  easier in some ways as it involves less techniques and it is quicker, but also more terrifying as it is much harder to undo mistakes, and I was worried about ruining the beautiful oak frames. I bought the same paint we used in the workshop (Colourman); it is a wonderful chalk paint with a rich, soft, matte, and flawless finish and colors made from natural earth pigments. 

I decided on the same pattern as my workshop frame, which looked really good when holding it as a test against the wall in my showroom and also worked in combination with the pine forest wallpaper.

The frames are quite big (52cm x42cm/20.5"x16.5"), so it took some time to finish painting them.

The finishing touch

Melissa taught us how to achieve a warm, natural patina with a soft sheen that also brings out the brushstrokes and deepens the color pigments. First, you need to lightly sand down the frame with very fine sandpaper. Then, evenly apply a thin layer of wax. Let it briefly soak in, and remove with a soft cloth. Polish with another soft cloth and let dry.

All done!

And finally ...

I've since become a little bit obsessed with arts and crafts projects, and I particularly love embroidery. Making things is a great way to pause in busy lives and unwind, as your mind focuses on the task without rushing elsewhere. It is also wonderfully relaxing to listen to podcasts or books while painting or stitching. Have any of you developed new hobbies over time or enjoyed arts/crafts projects for a while?

Have a sparkling and happy December ahead!



(None of my content is sponsored; the links below are not affiliated or paid for) 

Melissa White here
Natasha Hulse here
Kit Kemp here
Ham Yard Hotel here

Number Sixteen Hotel London here

Linen fabric for painting: Beagle Voyage by Andrew Martin here
Fabric paint: Pebeo opaque and light here and here
Embroidery thread: DMC Mouliné here

Blue and bright pink flowers - Drayton Print by LeeJofa here
Pale pink flower - Hedgerow Cerise fabric by Andrew Martin here
Green/yellow/white flower - Travelling Light in Green by Christoper Farr Cloth here 
Yellow flower - Bagatelle in Prairie by Manuel Canovas here  and Travelling Light in Green by Christoper Farr Cloth here 

Oak frames: Charles Kean Hammerson, Gallery 128 Ltd here
Handmade linen backing board: Jackson's here

Paint for frames: Colourman Chalk Paint here
Wax: Colourman Clear Wax here