All Journeys Must Come to An End - Fez, Morocco

Chapter Four - Until We Meet Again

One of the highlights of my trip to Fez was a trip to two villages right outside of the city.  Some friends of my best friend Nina took us on an hour long road trip through some serious rain, but it was so worth it.  I was especially taken with the village of Sefrou and the amazing cooperatives of women and artisans creating some seriously beautiful crafts.  I felt like a total foreigner because these villages do not receive many tourists so I definitely got the stare down, as my friend Cassi did while wearing her Chanel ballet flats in muddy terrain.  It was pretty hilarious if I say so myself.  Below, some photos of villages we ventured to.

A weaver's studio in Sefrou.  They weave some of the most beautiful wool blankets I've ever seen complete with stripes and pom poms at each corner.  Stunning!

All donkeys all the time

Selling fresh mint to make mint tea

Fell in LOVE with all of this colorful yarn hanging from a doorway

We visited a cooperative with various artisans.  This studio focused on ceramics, and that's one of the guys smoothing out the clay.

Hand painting cups that are about to be fired


Ceramics on display

The kindest, more adorable man making blankets all day long

This was a women's co-op that made necklaces made from caftan buttons.  Amazing.

Me (third from the left) and my crew with one of the women in the co-op

Leaving the beautiful village of Sefrou

I leave you with two photos of the magical city of Fez.  So much beauty and inspiration.

This wraps up my Moroccan adventure!  I hope you've all enjoyed some photos and words from my journey and I hope to meet you again after my next adventure in...Mexico City.

xo Joanna


And the Journey Goes On - Fez, Morocco

Chapter Three - It's all about the Food

I can't talk about Morocco without talking about the food.  It deserves its own blog post and delicious photos to go along.  My best friend Nina recently moved to Fez from Los Angeles and has become quite the local in just the two months that she's lived there.  I was lucky enough to experience the best of the best in the food department thanks to her knowledge and expertise on which bread vendors to visit, which fava bean soup stop we should hit, and which roof top dinner party to check out.  But not only did I get to experience eating out on the streets of Fez, I also got to experience what Moroccan home cooked meals are like.  Nina's housekeeper/nanny/superstar, Noura, cooked up a storm for us nearly everyday.  Fresh sardines, pasta with olive oil and herbs, beet salad and more - makes me hungry just typing all of it.  And, it didn't hurt that she made me coffee with milk and sugar every morning.  So dreamy.

A typical Moroccan breakfast.  A variety of breads, mint tea, coffee, and fresh orange juice.  This is my friend Nina hanging out at our friend's riad.

Hi, I love you.

The art of the mint tea pour

This is a bread called malawi (bottom) made with onion, cilantro and cayenne pepper

A meal cooked by Noura.  Holy cow.

Fava bean soup.  This is THE JAM.  It's typical street food but this spot in particular was known for theirs.  Pureed fava beans with olive oil, then you top with cayenne pepper, cumin, and salt.  They leave bread on your table for dipping.  So delish.

This photo does not do this bowl of couscous justice.  It's massive.  It's divine.  And it can be shared like this...

That's me on the far right having at it.  I'm not shy.

We stopped by a very well known antique shop in the medina and were invited to have lunch with the owner.  His wife had cooked up a fish tagine, eggplant with tomatoes, and a side of fava beans.  This was probably my favorite meal I had in Fez.

This is how tagines are cooked.  They sizzle in a clay pot!

So I might have been a little hungover when I stopped by this street food spot.  This lovely man cooked up fresh cut fries and potato fritters then topped it with an egg and some cheese, and then stuffed it inside bread with hot sauce. I know, most amazing hangover food EVER.  It was magical.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the last of Morocco! - Joanna


Continuing A Journey Through Fez

Chapter Two: Hunting for Textiles

For those who are wondering why I traveled to Fez, it’s because my job requires me to.  Not bad, right?  I have a Vintage Textile Studio located in Los Angeles called Kneeland Co., and I source vintage prints and textiles from around the world to be sold to fashion and interiors companies.  I travel to different countries hunting and gathering some of the most exquisite and rare pieces that can be used for design inspiration.  But as glamorous as it sounds, it’s a lot of hard work.  Searching high and low for the best sources, negotiating price, and having to schlep all that stuff back can be tiresome.  But I LOVE the thrill of the hunt and there is nothing that excites me more than finding something incredibly beautiful that I haven’t seen before.  Morocco is a good place for that, as you’ll see below.

 Total beauties, right?

This is a shawl made in the Berber villages of Morocco

A table covering made of silk thread

Weaving pillows and blankets

Loved the embroidery on this old skirt

Beautiful colors

This is a very old textile made for a pillow.  I love the transition from the black background to the red.

There is so much inspiration in each of these pillows.  This is the back of one - amazing stripes!  The front side is covered in fringe and sequins.

Stay tuned for more! - Joanna


A Journey Through Fez, Morocco

I’m so excited to be guest blogging for the one and only Cynthia Vincent this week.  After a recent visit to her studio to show my latest collection of Moroccan textiles and embellishments, Cynthia asked if I wanted to share part of my 2-week Fez, Morocco adventure that I just got back from.  Of course I want to!  I couldn’t say no to someone who appreciates the beauty, authenticity, and craftsmanship of textiles as much as I do.  So, are you ready to take part in an adventure?  Here we go!

Chapter One – The Art of Rug Shopping

If you’ve never experienced rug shopping in far flung corners of the world, trust me when I say that’s it’s a form of art (as well as a history lesson).  Upon entering a rug shop, you’re immediately greeted and asked to sit down as tea is delivered to you.  Genius.  Not only are you roped in for at least a solid hour, you also feel like the most important, well taken care of tourist in the world.  A presentation begins and rug after rug is brought out.  In Morocco, there are many different types of rugs to choose from.  Traditional Berber rugs, Moroccan wedding blankets known as handiras (can be used as rugs), rugs made from scraps of fabric remnants, etc.  Some of them date way back and almost all of them have the kind of beauty that makes you stop dead in your tracks.  That’s when you want to buy.  The shop owners aka rug dealers call out their price which usually starts a little high, and that’s where the negotiating begins.  I’ve been in situations where I’ve haggled for one hour over a rug, but what usually ends up happening is you pay right underneath the max of what you want to spend.  It’s usually a win win situation for everyone.  I should also add that’s it’s somewhat addicting, hence the 3 rugs I purchased in Fez.  Check out some rug action below:

Here I am in a friend's shop mesmerized by a selection of rugs.

One of the most absolutely interesting things about many of the Moroccan rugs is the message behind them.  When men and women were weaving these years ago, they would communicate with each other by including messages created by symbols and threadwork.  Some are messages of love…

The presentation begins!

Pile o' rugs

The mind-blowing Moroccan wedding blanket, which is also known as the handira.

Mint tea, please

This is a very unique handira with blue and green threading.

Stay tuned for more of my Moroccan adventure!  - Joanna

Joanna Williams is the owner of Kneeland Co., a Vintage Textile Studio specializing in vintage prints and embellishments sold to fashion and interiors companies to be used as design inspiration. Visit www.kneelandco.com to find out more.