Among the many talented artisans that I’ve encountered selling their lovingly made creations at Christmas markets in December, the work of Isabelle Jeangros, created for her own brand Creation Maille, is to me a standout.
From adorable woolen children’s bonnets to ladies’ chic cotton shoulder shrugs made for cool Spring or Summer evenings, her clothes and accessories reveal a hand trained for perfect stitching, a talented eye for detail, and a natural affinity for combining color, texture and design to achieve a feminine and flattering finish.
Isabelle’s knitted scarves, shrugs, hats, wrist warmers, and accessories including delicate flowers perfect for adorning a coat, sweater or hat are made almost entirely of natural fibres: wool, alpaca, cotton and occasionally linen, so they are as appealing to the touch as they are to the eye.
A talented eye for pattern, color and texture
To execute her designs, Isabelle uses three knitting machines, the first a versatile Passap Electronic 6000 (with motor) that holds pride of place in her workroom; the second a mechanical knitting machine dating from 1945; and the third to manage thicker middle-to-heavy-weight wool fibers.
She hand finishes every article, dreams up her own patterns, and of course, selects the color combinations, which in the case of her adaptable infinity (wraparound) scarves vary from unicolor, to classic black with white and grey, to punchy combos such as bright pink with vibrant orange.
Expressing creativity in a multitude of ways
A visit to Isabelle’s bright home-based studio in Prangins, just outside Nyon in canton Vaud, reveals she’s also a talented jewelry maker (beaded as well as knitted necklaces) and embroiderer as well as a passionate chef with a collection of 250 cookbooks, so it seems there’s no limit to the creative paths she’s willing to explore.
“I love to see a concrete result. Something that comes from my own hands and that remains a part of me after it’s done,” she says when asked what motivates her. “I like things to be well done from start to finish.”
Precision and passion for detail runs in the family
Perhaps this affinity for working with her hands to execute a perfect creation is in her blood, given that Isabelle hails from a watchmaking family in La Chaux de Fonds.
Whatever its source, it undoubtedly developed during her years studying textile design (for knitting machines) at the Schule für Gestaltung in Zürich in the mid-80s, followed by her tenure creating woven fabrics for Freia Prowe, a home textiles designer, and later for the fashion house Do Kobi in Baden, northwest of Zurich.
Ongoing creative collaborations
Isabelle continues to collaborate with fashion designers, creating accessories to complement their designs, including those of Iris Wuhrmann for her Nyon-based boutique Proximité. And she takes private commissions: she recently knitted a white shawl and evening gloves to complete a winter wedding ensemble.
Previously she participated at numerous arts and crafts fairs in Prangins, Gland, Rolle, and Chaniaz. Although Isabelle will not be participating at a Christmas Market in December 2016 she’s happy to accept orders for commissions in the new year.
So if you have a particular project in mind or you would like to know where you can find Isabelle’s handiwork, she can be reached by phone at +41.(0)22.362.1919 or by email to: email@example.com.
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By the way… Isabelle’s latest hobby is learning sign language and she would be happy to offer knitting lessons (hand or machine ) or cooking classes (her specialty is desserts) in exchange for the chance to practice sign language with a hearing impaired individual. Please get in touch with her if you’d like to take her up on this unique opportunity.