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Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Arts and crafts exhibition at La Verderie

The Open House at the weekend was a great success and a marvellous exercise in cleaning and tidying the house!

We had 18 exhibitors showing a mix of paintings, cards, photography, wood turning and textiles plus some beautiful tagines from Morocco (a big thank you to Wendy and Jeff for feeding us all weekend!) and some bargain furnishing fabrics supplied by Darren. Not to mention the scrumptious cakes, scones and pasties made by Katrina and Barbara. A very, very bad weekend for the diet.....!

It is an upheaval at home as we used the downstairs bedroom, living room and barn, however the success has urged me on to transform the barn into a permanent gallery by next Easter.

We managed to raise over 700 euros for the Poppy appeal and I think most of the artists went away happy with their take.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The last day of the Crochet workshop at La Verderie

Culli sets off with Cath and Jane for Angouleme station at 6.45 am, I got up to wave them off and do a bit of tidying up. The rest of us had a leisurely breakfast and a brisk walk with the dogs, the first heavy frost of the autumn has left the fields sparkling white which makes me think I need to spend the rest of the weekend moving the geraniums and banana plants.
Cognac market
We are taking Jenny and Kevin to Cognac station and then on to Bordeaux with Linda for her flight back to Oslo. A little last minute shopping in Cognac, cheese at the market for Linda to take back to Norway (extra wrapping to prevent it escaping in her suitcase) and Kevin and Jenny buy some beautifully packaged chocolates to take back as gifts.
The cheese stall

After a quick beer in the sunshine we wander back to the car through the lovely park, home to the Cognac Blues Festival, held in July every year, before dropping Kevin and Jenny at the station followed by the drive down to Bordeaux airport with Linda. 
The entrance to the park
Culli and I made a compulsory visit to Ikea in Bordeaux on the way home for picture frames, candles and light bulbs then back home to collapse in front of the TV.
The workshop was a great success, being the first one here at La Verderie I was a little nervous about it, but I think the venue worked well. Having such a small group is fantastic as each guest can expect one to one tuition from the tutor and the resulting work was way and above all expectations. Now, I just need to pin Jane down and decide on some dates for next year!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Crochet workshop at La Verderie - day 5

Friday is the last full day, the plan is to crochet most of the day and then go into Cognac for a wander late afternoon.
Everyone is keen to finish their projects, the concentration is intense and not a sound to be heard. Kevin and Linda decide to escape the pressure and go for a bike ride around the lanes after lunch, the rest of us decide we cannot tear ourselves away from the crochet, so the trip to Cognac is cancelled.
Cath modelling her crochet hat
After a brisk walk with the dogs around the vineyard it is the final photo session. The results are fantastic, I think we have all achieved our goals for the week.

Jenny's landscape
Kevin's flowers
Cath's chunky hat (not the Japanese one...)
Cath's sampler

Linda's flower bed
my Christmas fir cone, or is it a Christmas tree..?
my lampshade, an ongoing project I think
After the final dinner of chicken tagine, baked spicy aubergine with couscous and golden croissant pudding everyone collapsed in a heap. Cath and Jane have an early start on Saturday so early to bed for all.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Crochet workshop at La Verderie - day 4

Everyone voted for a whole day with their crochet and only set foot outside for a dog walk and hunt for fresh walnuts in the afternoon.

The amount that everyone has achieved in just a few days is amazing, Jane has been very patient and on hand to answer every question and demonstrate techniques.

Linda's crochet flower bed is growing quickly, by the end of the day she has the basic shape and is ready to complete the borders and flowers.

Kevin is creating the most gorgeous flower design, adding new pieces as he goes along to create a cushion cover.

Jenny is adding spirals to her landscape to create beautiful swirling clouds and sky.

Cath is working on her project of patchwork squares, each one using a different crochet technique.
I am plodding along with my lampshade cover, the chevrons are growing and tomorrow beads and bobbles!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Crochet workshop at La Verderie - day 3

Wednesday morning is a compulsory trip to the market in St Jean. It is a bright sunny day again, but cold. Winter boots and a jacket for the first time this autumn. The market is very quiet with no queues, a brief tour of the town    and a coffee in the sun at the back of the market, followed by a trip to LeClerc for a few more provisions. Then back home for lunch of prawns and salad.
Working on Dorset buttons
The afternoon was spent making Dorset buttons and starting work on our projects. I have had an idea for giant Dorset buttons using curtain rings and they work! I think they could become quite addictive, just managed to work the foundation row for my lampshade. Cath has completed a hat, but not the Japanese one yet, Linda is creating the most beautiful piece of freeform crochet from her image of the flower bed in Saintes.
Linda's project
Giant Dorset buttons
Tension square for my lampshade

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Crochet workshop at La Verderie

We are into the third day of the crochet workshop and all is going well.
Crochet Techniques
The four guests and tutor Jane arrived with no delays on Sunday afternoon to a gorgeous hot sunny day. Monday was a quick reminder on crochet techniques, going through the stitches and writing out charts. For me having a workshop here at home is fantastic as I actually have the time to join in, so perhaps by the end of the week I will finally get to grips with it.
The small group works well as Jane is able to give everyone individual attention to suit various skill levels. Linda (English but lives in Norway), can already crochet beautifully but is keen to learn how to create her own designs, brother and sister Kevin and Jenny are keen to improve their crochet and experiment with shapes, texture and colour, Cath and I just want to watch the stitches flow evenly..........., but after just one day things are looking good, we have all completed something! Linda's beautiful coaster is put to use immediately, sadly my rather small, pathetic one was appreciated mostly by Be Bop who decided to try and eat it.
Linda's beaded coaster
Tuesday morning, early breakfast and a trip to Saintes. We parked in the centre of town on a sunny but chilly morning and walked up to the Roman amphitheatre, too early for the shop but took a few snaps before a coach load of tourists arrived, then a quick visit to St Eutrope at the top of the hill and back down through the market to the shops.
The Roman Amphitheatre in Saintes
First visit of course to the yarn shop, where Kevin and Jenny bought some beautiful buttons then into a new shop with the most gorgeous cushions, throws, bags and bits, a definite one to revisit for Christmas gifts. A quick coffee, missed the haby shop by 5 minutes (how is it that after living in France for 8 years I still forget that shops close for lunch!), some magazines for inspiration then back home for lunch.
In the afternoon we started to think about stitches, colours and swatches for our chosen projects.
We all have different goals. Linda wants to make her own design and found her inspiration from the beautiful flower beds outside the Palais de Justice in Saintes, Jenny wants to understand crochet patterns, Kevin wants to design a cushion, Cath wants to understand and complete her Japanese crochet hat pattern and I want to crochet a lampshade, my original inspiration was a huge ceramic plate at the museum in Saintes but Jane has now taught us to work chevrons and bobbles so a change of plan, I think.
Section of a colourful wall hanging in St Eutrope

Friday, 23 September 2011

Knitting and Crochet workshop at Chateau St Julien 2012

Spaces for the September 2012 workshop at Chateau St Julien are filling up quickly, we now only have 6 places left in shared rooms. However, as we have a few men coming along this time (Jane and Debbie are bringing along their hubbies and so is one guest and of course Culli will be there), the invitation is extended to non-knitting partners and friends. The remaining twin and double rooms can be booked at £725 per head, so bring along a friend or family!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Vintage KnitKnacks

Book No. 3 has been published and is available to pre-order on Amazon, I should have my copies next week. Can't wait to see it!
Fingers crossed that the new projects sell at the Frankfurt book fair in October.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Arts and crafts exhibition - Charente-Maritime

Our winter Open House here at La Verderie is the weekend of 5th and 6th November and we have lots of goodies to exhibit. I am really pleased to get more paintings this year with some talented artists taking part, plus (of course) plenty of knitted knit knacks, greetings cards, some fantastic ceramic tajines, textiles, jewellery, wooden lamps and christmas decorations. Come and stock up on your Christmas Gifts!
10% of all profits will be donated to the Poppy Appeal.

We will also be serving delicious home made cakes, cream teas, pasties and pies all day with hot and cold drinks.

See further details here

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Sock knitting project bags

New stock! Embroidered fabric bags to store sock knitting projects, available in a choice of fabrics. Or just use them for keeping socks tidy in the drawer. ORDER HERE.

Coming soon - Knitting project bags

Monday, 19 September 2011

Christmas is coming

In fact it has already arrived at La Verderie, Culli has put his wood working talents into making some hand crafted Christmas decs and we are now surrounded by angels, reindeer, polar bear families and christmas trees. They are all available to order on KnitKits and will be on show at the Christmas exhibition here in November.

I am just completing the final angel design with knitted lace wings, pics to follow soon.
We have just had our four legged friend Jasper to stay for the week, he is a 14 year old retriever, a bit wobbly in the hind quarters but still has true retriever enthusiasm for walks, food and getting in the way when you are cooking.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

knitting holidays in france

Not sure why I haven't managed to write anything for the last six weeks, August was busy but not that hectic...... Anyway here we go again.

Life in France is peaceful, the tourists have all gone, the beaches are deserted again, the sunflowers have been harvested, the blackberries are over and the sloe gin is maturing nicely. I have been out with the camera looking for inspiration for textures to knit and images to make into greetings cards for my Christmas Craft fair.
We have BandB guests this weekend at La Verderie and an impromptu knitting retreat at the end of this month from 30th September - 5th October if anyone fancies a last minute break (and hopefully some sunshine!) email

The new website for the workshops and retreats is now fully functional (SEE HERE) and there are lots of new dates for knitting retreats in 2012 (full list at the end of this post).

There are still a few spaces for the workshops at Chateau St Julien in September 2012, with tutors Debbie Abrahams and Jane Crowfoot, email for further details.

I have been busy designing new kits for KnitKits and some new knitting bags, the first few are on the website with more being added every day.

Culli is launching into building custom made guitars so I have started creating a new website for him

Techno Cozies is available to buy now from GMC publishing, Amazon, WH Smith etc.

Knitting, crochet and textile holidays in France 2012

1st-6th March – Knitting Retreat at La Verderie
£225 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement)
(5 spaces available)

22nd-28th March - Design Workshop at La Verderie with tutor Debbie Abrahams
£425 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement) (FULLY BOOKED)

11th-16th April – Learn to Knit Workshop at La Verderie with tutor Sue Culligan
£295 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement)
(4 spaces available)

25th – 30th April – Knitting Retreat at La Verderie
£225 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement)
(4 spaces available)

10th – 14th May – Knitting Retreat at La Verderie
£225 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement)
(5 spaces available)

DATE TO BE CONFIRMED Finishing Techniques, Trims and Borders for Knitting and Crochet Workshop at La Verderie with tutor Jane Crowfoot
£425 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement)
(5 spaces available)

7th – 11th June – Knitting Retreat at La Verderie
£225 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement)
(4 spaces available)

24th – 28th June – Knitting Retreat at La Verderie
£225 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement)
(1 space available)

16th – 22nd September – Knitting and Crochet design workshop with tutors Jane Crowfoot and Debbie Abrahams at Chateau St Julien l’Ars
£725 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£100 single room supplement)
(9 spaces available)

26th September – 1st October – Hot Textiles workshop – Bondaweb for beginners with tutor Kim Thittichai at La Verderie
£425 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement)
(4 spaces available)

3rd – 8th October – Hot Textiles workshop – Luscious Layers with tutor Kim Thittichai at La Verderie
£425 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement)
(3 spaces available)

21st-25th October – Knitting Retreat at La Verderie
£225 per head based on two sharing a twin room (£70 single room supplement)
(5 spaces available)

Sunday, 31 July 2011

The end of July

The sunflowers are nearly over and the blackberries, sloes and mushrooms are ready for picking, it feels like autumn has arrived already! Be Bop has been helping himself to blackberries straight from the bush and is covered with juice all over his nose.

The chateau at Crazannes
We had our photo club outing yesterday in the pretty village of Crazannes, it was a baking hot day and I was late as we had B&B guests the night before so walked for miles around the village and down to the chateau at high speed taking photos to enter in the autumn photographic competition. After this it was back to Dick and Jackie's for a lovely lunch followed by a trip around Les carrieres de Crazannes, the amazing limestone quarries that were used by the Romans. Stone from the quarries was used to build the Arc of Germanicus in Saintes and many of the Romanesque churches in the area. The cool shady paths through the quarries were the best place to be on a hot day, it was like being in a different world with trailing ivy and scenery straight from 'Raiders of the lost Ark', no sign of Harrison Ford but plenty of inspiration for knitting designs with beautiful leaf shapes, vivid greens and creamy limestone textures.
Crazanne quarry

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Learn to Knit workshop in France with tutor Sue Culligan

11th - 16th April 2012
If you have an urge to learn how to knit, or want to brush up basic knitting skills join tutor Sue Culligan on this residential course at La Verderie in France. The course is designed for a maximum of 4 guests with workshops held over 4 days. The cost of the holiday (£295 per head for a single room or £225 per head based on two sharing a twin room) covers all the workshops, materials, full board, outings to local towns and transfers from local airports and stations. Travel to France is not included in the price.
We will go through all the basics of knitting to cover casting on and off, different stitches and simple colourwork with an aim to create a knitted patchwork cushion cover during the course.
See further details of the accommodation here and for full details of the course email or BOOK HERE

Friday, 15 July 2011

Techno Cozies by Sue Culligan

An exciting little package has just arrived in the post! My advance copy of Techno Cozies, I can't believe it is finally in print. Writing and designing Techno Cozies was a real challenge, as well as knitted projects it includes sewing, felting and crochet. There are a total of 30 designs for cozies, bags and cases and all are suitable for any level of experience in each craft. It will be available to the general public the first week of September and can be ordered in advance now on many of the major websites including Amazon and WH Smiths, I will have some copies available to order on KnitKits at the beginning of September.
A huge, huge, huge thank you to everyone who helped me along the way, especially Kim, Frances, Jo and Wendy for helping me meet the deadline by making up some of the designs.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

KnitKits Sock Blockers

New stock! Our own KnitKits sock blockers are available now. This pair of perspex sock blockers come in three sizes (EU shoe sizes 36-38, 39-41 and 42+), they have a handy ribbon tie for hanging and storage and are just £9.99 a pair. ORDER HERE

Sock knitting gift pack. The perfect present for sock knitting fans. The kit contains two balls of Mini Mochi sock yarn, a basic sock pattern and a pair of perspex sock blockers. This is all packaged in a fabric drawstring bag embroidered with the word 'Socks', use the bag to carry around your sock knitting projects or to store socks in the drawer. ORDER HERE

Sunday, 10 July 2011

More Blues

Another trip to Cognac yesterday for a sunny afternoon in the park with Bo Weavil followed by the BluesEaters at the Irish bar.
Today it's a David, Yvonne and John's joint 65th birthday party, with music provided by Culli's band Bedrock. It has rained in the night, so fingers crossed for a dry afternoon and evening!
Kim leaves on Tuesday, so back to work then with a vengeance, I have two bedrooms to paint before more B&B guests arrive in two weeks!