Search This Blog

Monday, 31 May 2010

Back home

Today is a day of rest after the week at the chateau. Time to relax, finish my yarn review (safely stashed in my new Cath Kidston knitting bag!) update the blog and plan the workshop for next year! Being on a bit of a high at the moment (how could I possibly have uttered the words 'never again') I am thinking of two workshop weeks at the chateau for 2011......! One in the spring following the same format as usual, followed by a second one in the autumn when guests can bring their husbands or partners. A few male companions for Culli, he can show the boys the vineyards of the Loire, the Cognac houses in the Charente, a bit of history around the region, perhaps some golf, walking, cycling, kayaking........ followed by some good rustic french cooking with lashings of wine. The ladies will have a full programme of knitting and crochet workshops in the day with a few shopping excursions. Watch this space!

The projects from the French knitting workshop

More projects from the French knitting workshop

More projects from the French knitting workshop

The knitting projects from Chateau St Julien

Here are the results from the workshop. For some reason I only seem to have 16 images and there were 17 guests, so whoever I have missed out sincere apologies!!! Please email me with an image and I will put it up on the blog. The quantity and quality of work produced by everyone is inspirational to all knitters, I am looking forward to seeing images of all the completed projects!

The last full day at the knitting workshop

The week seems to have gone by so quickly, I feel like I have spent all my waking hours in the kitchen, it has been fun but hard work. Saturday morning and the sun is shining, it is the trip to Chauvigny market which I love, sadly because it is a bank holiday weekend in France and there is another large market nearby the button man is not there, however there is still plenty to see.

The church in the medieval part of the town is fantastic with its painted pillars and well worth the climb up the winding steps, more inspiration for knitted projects.
Back to the chateau for lunch and it has started to rain, upstairs the students are having their show and tell session, the work they produce seems to get better every year with some fabulous designs and use of colour.
Culli and I are in the kitchen fretting over the dessert, another trial run for the wedding feast I am doing in June. The bride wants a profiterole wedding cake, called a Croquembouche which I gaily said of course I can make one....... Well the last time I made a profiterole was 30 years ago, however it worked! My willing guinea-pigs demolished every last crumb.
Before dinner we had the final kirs and presentation of certificates. Wendy won the prize draw, not for her beautiful knitting inspired by a cactus, but for her wonderful sense of humour, which she is demonstrating in her little speech and went something like this -
Can you name three fish that start and end with a K?
Killer Shark
Kwiksave breaded haddock
Kilmarnock - yes, it's a plaice in Scotland..........
Thank you Wendy for keeping us entertained and living up to your Kangaloonie reputation. Susan also won a Mili silk knitting needle case for keeping her wonderful calmness and serenity throughout the workshops.
Thank you to Heike and Anne for being such brilliant tutors and to all the lovely guests, you have been a very appreciative audience and Culli and I look forward to meeting you all again, perhaps at the chateau or one of our knitting retreats at home.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Day 5 at the knitting workshop

After supper last night Heike tried to teach continental knitting, seemed to go well on the knit side but not so good on the purl, too many glasses of wine perhaps.....! But everyone looks very relaxed.
Today is an all day workshop and Penny who was a guest at the autumn workshop in 2009 and lives in France, has come along join us for the day. The sun is out again so after lunch some of the guests took their knitting outside for a few hours, then back to the workshop for Anne to show them how to make dorset buttons. Caroline is leaving today, so the noise levels may go down a bit, but we will miss her!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Day 4 at the knitting workshop

A bit of a grey day outside and very quiet inside I managed to stagger out of bed to lay up breakfast by 8 and so far only Tracey has appeared. Last night was fairly noisy, the noise levels in the dining room go up every day. Wendy was entertaining everyone with tales of her foreign lodgers.....
The keener members of the group were upstairs knitting frantically. Today is just a morning workshop with a free afternoon. We are taking a few into Poitiers to hit the yarn shop, whilst Culli and I go to the supermarket again. I have ordered a whole salmon which I need to poach for tonight - a practice run as I am catering for a wedding in June and it worked! Here is Culli skinning it ready to be served with herb mayo, new potatoes and fresh green beans.

The sun came out in time for kirs on the terrace and for Nash to give his talk on the history of the chateau. The oldest part of the chateau was built in the 12th century, the medieval tower has a spiral staircase that goes from the kitchen to the top floor with concealed doorways on each level. Culli and I are in the haunted bedroom on the second floor, but have not had any ghostly visitors yet! To read more about the history of Chateau St Julien l'Ars visit their website.

The knitting projects are coming along well with some lovely original designs, see some of the photos on Heike's blog here. I have decided to knit a post workshop project, there are some lovely ornamental poppies in the grounds, perhaps a bag or a jumper for my grand-daughter Poppy.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Knitting workshop at Chateau St Julien

It is day three of the workshop and the first time I have had a chance to sit down and up-date the blog.
All the guests and Heike and Anne arrived safely on Monday with a few delays on the trains but otherwise no problems, it was very hot and sunny so the apero's on the terrace were very welcome. The chateau is as beautiful as ever and Nash and Linda the owners are here, so it is good to meet up with them again.
Yesterday was an introduction to the course in the morning, we have nine newcomers to the chateau and the remaining seven are repeat bookings, so know the ropes. In the afternoon Culli and I ferried everyone into Poitiers for an afternoon shopping which was cut short by violent thunderstorms. The theme for the week is working with colour and the students were not allowed to see the yarns and fabric until the end of the first day (caught you peeking Rhona! but in fairness only a few minutes before the unveiling), this meant having to start on a design from their inspiration without a specific colour in mind. After supper Heike and Anne revealed the yarns and fabric they have brought along for the week, everyone pounced with glee and disappeared clutching balls of cotton glace, milk cotton, handknit cotton and kidsilk haze in gorgeous summer shades and matching fabric. Many sat up well in to the night to make a start on their designs for the week. Culli and I sat outside the chateau for a late night relax and watched the mist coming in.
Today has been a mix of sunshine and showers outside with the odd rumble of thunder. Inside the chateau everyone is engrossed in their projects, this afternoon there is a workshop on crochet and I am just off to make the dessert for tonight, chocolate pots with prunes soaked in cognac.
We are using our ancient laptop and I forgot to bring the connection lead for my camera so will have to upload the photos when I get home on Sunday, for more info on how we are all getting on and some photos see Heike's blog here.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

A new grandchild

Grand-daughter No. 3 arrived at 10.26 yesterday morning, mother and daughter doing well and home this morning so hopefully we will get to see them on video before we leave for Poitiers.
Busy day today as Culli and I are off to Chateau St Julien this afternoon to prepare for the knitting workshop, with the guests arriving tomorrow. The weather is fantastic, hoping it will last out for the week!
I will try and update the blog every day on the laptop with news from the chateau.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Bed and Breakfast, Charente-Maritime, France

At last the b&b is up and running!

The double bedroom with ensuite shower on the ground floor is ready to let and we have had our first paying guest this week. Bookings can be made on-line at Kangaroo but please email first to check availability or call us on +33 (0)5 46 94 08 53.

Situated between St Jean d'Angely, Cognac and Saintes we are the perfect stopping off point if you are heading South, just 17 kms off the A10. Or come and relax in a peaceful rural setting for a few days and explore the surrounding countryside by bicycle or on foot. Evening meals can be provided on request and we are dog friendly so well behaved four legged friends are very welcome.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Happy Birthday Kangaroo!

Kangaroo was 29 years old yesterday. To celebrate we are offering 15% discount on all orders until midnight on Saturday 22nd May, see full details of the offer on the home page at kangaroo

I have a busy week as we are getting everything ready for our knitting week at Chateau St Julien, the sun is shining and it finally looks like it might be here to stay (for a few days at least!) The menus are all planned, bags of yarn and fabric packed and ready to go and Culli has cleaned the cars ready for the station pick-ups.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Debbie Abrahams buttons

We have just had a delivery of some new one-off designs from Debbie. These gorgeous ceramic buttons are hand-made by Debbie's mum and come on cards with 5 or 6 buttons.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Debbie Abrahams mystery blanket workshop

I have just booked the first workshop for 2011, Debbie Abrahams is tutoring a mystery blanket workshop for us on 16th March 2011, book here! The workshop is open to all, if you are not a member of the mystery blanket club you can enjoy learning intarsia, fair-isle and beading techniques from Debbie.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Tunisian Crochet workshop

We have a new workshop date! Linda and Barbara from Denise knitting needles are visiting the UK in the summer and have volunteered to run a Tunisian Crochet workshop for us at Kangaroo. The workshop is on thursday 5th August, just for two hours in the morning followed by a free for all in the afternoon to try out all the fantastic Denise products.

Book here

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Care for a cuppa at Kangaroo?

We are holding an all day tea party tomorrow (Thursday 6th May from 10 am to 4 pm) at Kangaroo in support of Diabetes UK. All proceeds for tea, coffe and cakes will be donated to the charity. So come along and join the Kangaloonies knitting group, have a cuppa and make a donation to a worthy cause. For directions to find us click here.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Soda sleeveless top from Studio 19

What happened to Spring! It has been cold, wet and windy for two days now. All that gardening I had promised myself this week has gone out of the window. My Banana plants have been battered to bits and it is too wet to plant up my new pots that Amy gave me for Christmas.

However, plenty of time to finish the yarn review and start on Soda from Rowan Studio 19, this lovely sleeveless design takes 4-6 balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze and just 2 balls of Rowan Siena.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Felted knitting and embellishment workshop with Fiona Morris

We still have some places available for the Felted Knitting and embellishment workshop on Saturday 15th May. Tutor Fiona Morris will teach you the techniques of hand felting and needle felting and how to add embellishment to a knitted garment or accessory with embroidery and swiss darning.
The cost of the workshop includes materials, lunch, tea and coffee and 10% discount on any purchases made on the day.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

30th April

It's the start of another month and spring has finally hit the Charente-Maritime. The last day of April actually wasn't as good as the rest of the week had been, a few cloudy spells but warm. The countryside is lovely at the moment, very green and fresh. The bluebells are out and the oilseed rape is flowering.

We are finally completing the renovations on the house, the kitchen is finished except for the tiling which will be done on Tuesday and the downstairs bedroom and shower room are done - hurrah! Bookings for the B&B and knitting retreats are starting to come in and the knitting week at chateau st Julien is coming up fast.