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Our Lovely Partner

Our Lovely Partner


Catherine André

Welcome to the creative world of Catherine André,

A jacquard weaver hailing from the Aveyron department of Southern France. Her knitwear,Imbued with her warm and loving ethos,Enchants those of us who live in Okinawa.

Catherine André

Catherine André is the designer for the leading French knitwear brand that bears her name. Dubbed as a “magician of color” within the industry, André’s collections attract attention from people all around the world with their rich creativity and distinctive style. Awarded the Legion D’Honneur in 2013.

Knitting became my diary. Knitting is like writing.
The clothes we wear tell a story.

My passion for knitting

I learned to knit as a child from my grandmother but found it repetitive and boring. For a while, I wasn’t interested in knitting at all. When I was older, perhaps in my late teens, I had the opportunity to travel to Ireland with my best friend. We drove around Ireland and were fascinated to learn that each community had its own unique knitting style. After graduation, I had the opportunity to teach secondary school students in Scotland for a year. During a visit to the Hebrides Islands, the birthplace of Harris Tweed, I had the opportunity to tour their famous factory. As a recent graduate, I could not afford to purchase any of the expensive Harris Tweed on display, but an elderly man in the store kindly shared the history of the tweed with us.

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The Tweed Shopkeeper’s Story

The Tweed Shopkeeper’s Story “We, Hebrides Islanders, create tweed fabric using colors and patterns inspired by nature. Take this purple fabric, for example; you won’t find such an unusual shade in the mountains or sea of the Hebrides. However, in the evening, when the sun begins to set, the sky around those hills is bathed in this purple color. Here, take a look.”(I looked out the window and the old man was right. The sky over the hills was tinted purple.)
Scottish fishermen have a tradition of going out to sea wearing sweaters knitted by their wives. Each knit pattern has a unique meaning, and by arranging them, the wife creates a one-of-a-kind sweater for her husband. This is not only an expression of love but also serves as a means of identification in the unfortunate event that the husband is lost at sea and his body is unidentifiable.

At that moment I remembered a fairy tale I had heard as a child. Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who refused to marry, much to the king’s annoyance. Eventually, the princess declared that she would only marry the man who can present her the following three treasures: a dress as blue as the sky, a dress as radiant as the moon, and a dress as dazzling as the sun. As a child, I always wondered what this ‘dress as dazzling as the sun’ looked like. It was only after hearing the story from the tweed shop owner that I realized what “dazzling as the sun” was all about.
The knit pattern can be used to identify him. Thus, as I traveled and heard stories from different people,knitting became a daily routine, much like writing a diary.

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Knitting Days

I began my knitting business in a bohemian town in the south of France and started showing on crafts events. When I receive a knitting request, I inquire about the person’s favorite colors and hobbies. This information helps me to spark my imagination. On that note, I’d like to share two amusing stories from that time.

The Shy young man

For instance, I recall a shy young man who once asked me to knit for him. He was initially quiet and shy, but after I asked him about his preferences, the conversation flowed effortlessly. He spoke with such enthusiasm that it felt like he was sharing his life story. Using the ample material I had gathered, I knitted him a soft-colored pastel sweater. A few months later, I ran into him and asked if he liked it. He replied bashfully, “I do like it, but perhaps it’s a bit too colorful. When I wore this sweater, people around me complimented it and asked where I got it from. It made me popular, which was a little embarrassing.”

The Happy Couple

One day, an artist couple in their 60s asked me to knit for them. The Danish husband was a jovial man, and his American wife was elegant and sophisticated. They requested that I knit for the wife, and I spent a month fulfilling their request. When I delivered it to their residence, the wife took it without a word. I wasn’t sure if she liked it. A few months later, the husband came to my store and said that his wife liked the knit very much. He saw her, wearing the sweater, dancing by herself in front of the mirror. He saw it through the crack of the bedroom door! Every item of clothing we wear has its own story, and sometimes, the wearer becomes a part of that story.

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Inspiration all around me

I take inspiration from various sources in my daily life, such as books, quotes, movies, art, and conversations with people I know. Or the cityscapes and natural environment of a travel destination. Here’s an interesting example. A friend once suggested, ‘Why not create a theme around a historical figure, particularly a woman who played an active role?’ They also suggested, ‘Why not choose a figure that reflects your DNA?’ The word DNA (ADN in French) left a great impression on me, and I began researching great women in history. I discovered Alexandra David-Néel, an explorer and philosopher, whose initials coincidentally matched ADN, which made me feel a connection and inspired me to make her the theme for the season.

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A house full of history

The Stone house

A friend recommended this house to my husband and me when we were considering moving. Being in a very humid area, I was concerned that the house would be sticky in the summer, especially since the floors and walls were made of stone. However, underneath the house was an underground area that had been there since it was first built, with the drainage channels carved into the stone. In the summer, humidity flows into this space and out through the drains. The ingenious design of the house is a testament to the wisdom of the past.

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The Coat-of-Arms

When we bought the house, the entrance room wall was decorated with a royal and noble family’s coats of arms. It appeared to have belonged to the noble family that once owned the house. Unfortunately, the day before we moved in, the owner painted over the crests. I was so disappointed. The history of a house should be out in the open. As temporary owners, we are essentially borrowing the house from its history. We have preserved the royal coat of arms and restored the family crest to the best of our ability.

The words of wartime refuge-seekers

The house also has a wine cellar. The original wooden shelving and casks have been preserved. Some of the frames are carved and lettered. These inscriptions were made by people who sought refuge in this house during the war and were hiding there for weeks at a time. They include the names of the individuals and their families, as well as messages such as ‘I don’t want to die. I want to survive.’ For us, these ‘scribbles’ are an important part of our history.

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Small is big,
Small is beautiful.

Yearning for the tropical island

When I was a child, my uncle was in the Navy and stationed in Tahiti. Whenever he returned home, he always brought me Polynesian souvenirs. Seeing the exotic costumes and crafts, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of place Polynesia was. From then on, I began to yearn for the “southern islands”. An “island” is a special space. It is small, isolated from the continent, and very unique. They tend to be influenced by their surroundings, but always retain their unique qualities. Every island is “independent” in a sense; there is a tremendous “resilience” to changing times. Just like Okinawa, don’t you think?

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