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Looking for a hands-on way to combine French savoir faire, a beautiful day outdoors and an aperitif? French General, the quaint little crafts store in Silver Lake, is hosting a one-day workshop this fall in which a visiting Provençal craftsperson will teach Angelenos historic dyeing.

The class takes place in Elysian Park around large vats bubbling with woad, a weed that?s been used since prehistoric times to create the color now known as French blue. (The blue that?s still vivid in old French tapestries--that?s woad.)

We?re mesmerized by the transformation a stained, old white T-shirt or button-down undergoes after a dip in the dye bath, which turns items acid yellow, then green and finally blue. Workshop participants are asked to bring what they?d like to dye. We?re planning to turn an old white sheet into a cheery picnic blanket or table runner and have a linen tunic ready to transform into a fashionable schmatte.

While the pieces dry on clotheslines, students eat a taco picnic and, at day?s end, reconvene at the shop for a show-and-tell over a glass of Lillet. The $145 workshop isn?t until September 15, but we?re signing up now--the 40 slots for this popular session sell out fast.

French General, 2009 Riverside Dr.; 323-668-0488 or

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