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Thursday, 29 March 2012

Final day of the knitting workshop at La Verderie

Tuesday morning was spent finishing off the bag projects in the sunshine. Debbie had also brought along a second project for the guests to take home, a beautiful kit for a small beaded bag, so she showed everyone how to cast on with beads to start them off. After lunch Debbie, Irene, Clare and I headed off to Saintes for more shopping, leaving Caroline and Wendy at home relaxing with their knitting.

We made a leisurely tour around the shops in Saintes visiting the little yarn shop with the fantastic button selection and more interiors shops, all managing to find something to buy and the inevitable drink at the cafe in the centre of town.

Back home to meet up with the others and take them all on a visit to Egretau, our local Cognac producers. A brief tour of the distillery was followed by some Cognac and Pineau tasting and lots of purchases to take home for gifts. The final supper of chilled melon and prawns in a mint dressing, creamed chicken and leek in pasta shells and mini pavlova's followed by a reasonably early night.

I had an early start on Wednesday to take Clare, Caroline, Wendy and Irene down to Bordeaux airport, then Culli and I took Debbie to La Rochelle, with time for a lunch stop on the way at Surgeres then the final shopping fix and yes, Debbie managed to find a few more items to buy..........

It was a brilliant week, some lovely knitting, perfect weather and great company, and I have gained one of Debbie's beautiful blankets, on loan until I see her in September as there was no room in her case for it!
We have also confirmed one date for Debbie to come back next year for a Mystery Blanket workshop (14th-20th March 2013), see the details here.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Day 5 of the knitting workshop

A woolly display in the optician's window
Another glorious sunny day, we spent the morning finishing knitting the bag project. After lunch Debbie showed everyone how to block their projects, we left them drying in the sun and set off for an afternoon in Cognac leaving Caroline behind to finish her book.

Being Monday most of the shops were shut, but Debbie still managed to find something to buy, a bottle of Cognac with a bright orange cover in the Hennessey shop.

We wandered back up to the square and had the wonderful apero they serve here Rose wine and Pamplemousse (grapefruit juice), then back home for instructions on how to sew up neatly using mattress stitch. This was followed by supper, a starter of kiwi fruit and cream cheese wrapped in parma ham, followed by duck breast with prune and chocolate sauce and the horrendously fattening golden croissant pudding.......

Monday, 26 March 2012

Days 3 and 4 of the knitting workshop

St Jean d'Angely
Saturday morning market
A trip to St Jean d'Angely on Saturday morning for a wander around the market, coffee in the square and a visit to the Interior's shop. 
Culli waiting patiently for the shoppers
Wendy, Irene, Caroline, Debbie, Culli and Clare
We bought seafood for lunch and introduced a few of the guests to oysters and bulot which  went down surprisingly well.
Seafood lunch
An afternoon of knitting in the sun followed by pork in cider and warm ginger and ricotta cheesecake.
The clock's going forward an hour threw everyone, Sunday got off to a very slow start with late breakfast and a decision to stay at home and knit all day. Another day of knitting in the hot sunshine, with a race to get the bags finished and ready to block on Monday afternoon.
The bag project

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Day 2 knitting workshop with Debbie Abrahams

We had a great day yesterday, sunny enough for everyone to move outside to the courtyard with their knitting for the day. The first project Debbie has set is to knit a bag, that includes beading, stripes, intarsia, swiss darning, cable and lace and most have almost finished the front.

Irene's friend Lena who lives not far from us in the Charente came along to join us for the day and brought along samples of her beautiful yarns that are naturally dyed from mushrooms. There are 100's of varieties of mushrooms here in the woods, mostly in the autumn but Lena manages to source them all year and creates the most fantastic colours with the dye.

Apero's in the courtyard with everyone glowing from the sun, followed by fish pie and plenty of wine and lively conversation.
This morning the sun is shining again and we are off to the market in St Jean d'Angely for a wander and a coffee and to buy some fresh seafood for lunch.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Tips and Techniques knitting workshop with Debbie Abrahams Day 1

The first workshop of the year at La Verderie has started! The four guests - Wendy, Caroline, Irene and Clare arrived at Bordeaux airport yesterday afternoon and Debbie flew into La Rochelle.
The girls are all from the knitting group that I used to run at Kangaroo and is now the Chailey knitters so it is really lovely to see them all again and catch up with the news which we did over a few glasses of wine last night. The weather forecast for the week is fantastic, so hopefully we will be able to eat lunch and knit outside every day.
Today is a full day workshop, Debbie has two projects lined up for the week to cover all the following techniques -

·        Choosing the best method to cast-on for your project
·        Creating neat selvedge edges
·        Neat buttonholes (cast-off)
·        Fully-fashioned shaping
·        Bobbles
·        Cables
·        Lace stitches
·        Intarsia (optional)
·        Swiss-darning (optional)
·        Easy-to-knit stripe patterns (using circular/double-pointed needles
·        Three needle cast-off to join stitches together
·        Blocking and pressing
·        Sewing up using Mattress stitch
·        Picking up stitches along horizontal and vertical edges
·        Knitting a neat handle
·        Sewing in ends

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A weekend in Lille

The colourful buildings in the main square of Lille
For Culli's 65th birthday treat we went to Lille for a couple of days. A trip up on the TGV to the cold North, we must be mad. However, Lille is a beautiful city, a very different part of France to our area with strong Belgian influences (lots of beer and chocolate!). We had a quick wander on Thursday morning to get our bearings a compulsory visit to the Leffe bar and then Moules Frites.
One of the gorgeous chocolate shops

Window shopping!

The beautiful mosaic front of l'Huitriere

Friday was his birthday, after croissant and the most chocolaty hot chocolate I have ever experienced we explored the city on foot. The old town has pedestrianised streets and beautiful shops with all the designer names, including a branch of La Droguerie, my favourite shop in Bordeaux. La Droguerie is an Aladdin's cave of yarn, fabric, buttons and ribbon, as we were carrying everything in a small rucksack I had to restrain myself and came out with just one sewing pattern for a summer top!
Birthday dessert

We met our old mates from London John and Caro for a long leisurely lunch at Le Lion Bossu, a small restaurant with a lovely atmosphere and great food, then collapsed for the rest of the day.
Palais des Beaux Arts

We were disappointed culture vultures on Saturday morning at Le Palais des Beaux Arts as the main part of the gallery was closed, so wandered back to the old town for a visit to the Musee de l'Hospice Comtesse  followed by a Thai buffet opposite the train station and then back home.
Inside the Musee de l'Hospice Comtesse

Monday, 12 March 2012

Crochet workshops in France with tutor Jane Crowfoot May 2012

Freeform crochet samples
We have one residential space left (or two if you want to share a twin room) and three spaces for day guests if you live in the Charente-Maritime area. This brilliant workshop is tutored by crochet expert Jane Crowfoot and is suitable for all skill levels, it runs from the 5th -12th May at La Verderie in the heart of rural France, see the venue here.
La Verderie
The workshop covers all aspects of crochet and can be tailored to suit individual needs, with a small group of up to five guests Jane can offer one-to-one tuition for each student, the perfect environment to learn to crochet or to improve existing skills.
Colourwork Crochet designed by Jane Crowfoot
The cost of the holiday includes all the workshops, full board, outings to local towns, materials and free transfers to La Verderie from La Rochelle airport and Angouleme station. For further details visit