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Saturday, 30 March 2013

Knitting and Crochet workshop with Jane Crowfoot

My first attempt at home made Hot X buns, just need to perfect the X...........!

Happy Easter from Knitting Holidays in France
We have a new workshop date for 2014.
8th -14th June Knitting and Crochet workshop with tutor Jane Crowfoot. Spaces are limited to a maximum of 5 so please book early. The workshop will be tailored to suit individual needs and is suitable for all skill levels. Choose to work on a project that combines knitting and crochet or stick to just knitting or just crochet.
For further details about the venue or to book a space visit or email

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Mystery Blanket workshop final day

Wednesday is departure day. An early start for Mary and Debbie at 6.30 am (ouch), I get up to wave goodbye and Culli drives them down to Bordeaux airport.
Slightly more leisurely departures for the rest, Chris is next to leave from Angouleme and I take Clare, Wendy, Elizabeth and Viviane to Bordeaux, the final five go off to Angouleme with Culli.
Time to collapse in a heap. Tomorrow I need to firm up dates with Debbie for next year, it looks like nearly everyone wants to come back!

Mystery Blanket Workshop day 6

Tuesday is the last full day of the holiday. The morning is spent knitting, a few are up to date with their squares and I think everyone is happy with what they have achieved, although the week seems to have flown by.
On the loose in Saintes

In the afternoon we go into Saintes for the final shopping trip. The first stop is the fabric and yarn shop to make up for yesterday. There are some beautiful fabrics that make me want to replace all my curtains and cushions, but after looking at the price maybe just an a photo or two for knitting inspiration.

Debbie buys some amazing oil cloth fabric featuring the covers of Vogue magazine, (the one that leaps out is a pic of Daniel Craig). Next over the river to the stationery shop and Maison du Monde, we split up and some make it down to the yarn shop but I stay with Debbie so we don't get any further than the first three shops and a coffee.

On the way home we stop at our local Cognac producer Egreteau. The lovely owner gives us a guided tour of the distillery (translation by Culli), followed by tastings of Pineau and Cognac and a few purchases.

The last supper of antipasto starters, chicken tagine followed by chocolate pots, then Wendy's famous Russian sauna story reduces everyone to hysterical laughter. Debbie, Culli and I are thoroughly spoilt with some lovely gifts.

Elizabeth models her T-shirt purchased in Cognac yesterday featuring the slogan 'I am a rare pearl' (in French) which she certainly is and Katherine models her slightly naff (sorry Katherine!) scarf knitted from the nylon ribbon purchased in the market on Saturday.

It has been a wonderful week with some lovely ladies, the new venue at La Nougeree has worked well for us and I really hope that everyone has enjoyed it as much we did.

Mystery Blanket workshop Day 5

It;s raining again! Clare, Wendy, Debbie and I remember the workshop this time last year at La Verderie when it was sunny and warm enough to have lunch in the garden every day.
Never mind, I am sure this is better for the knitting.
The morning is spent working on the blankets, after lunch a trip to Cognac. We manage to dodge the showers with a quick trip to the supermarket, then wander down the pedestrianised shopping streets.

I am pleased to see that Cognac's answer to Specsavers is still featuring knitting yarn heavily in the window display. Sadly being Monday, most of the shops are shut, we mange to find a couple of clothes shops that are open but Mercerie Bonnet the fabric and yarn shop is shut, everyone peers forlornly through the windows, I promise them a visit to the Saintes branch tomorrow.

Back home for a warming supper of chilli con carne followed by plum crumble. Culli is starting to look like the pressure of looking after 11 women is getting to him..............

Mystery Blanket workshop day 4

It's Sunday morning and a slightly later start to the day.
The weather is awful with torrential rain, wind, the odd sunny spell and rainbows.
Everyone settles down for a full day of knitting, the conversation ranges from condoms to continental knitting. It is great to listen in from the kitchen.
I have been making soup for luch every day which seems to be going down well, followed by salad, bread and cheese.
Culli's least favourite cheese - Goat!

After lunch the sun comes out and a few brave souls venture out for a bit of fresh air and a walk around the block, but soon scuttle back as it starts to rain again. Back to knitting and an even livelier discussion after a glass or two of wine at lunch time.
There seems to be a bit of competition on the amount of squares knitted so far for the Mystery Blanket,  however, the standard is perfect from all, with just a little colour deviation from Gill..................

Oops! I think the one she has her hand over should have
been lighter grey (see below)

Add caption

After a hard day of knitting and putting the world to rights we have apero's around the fire followed by dinner of roasted red pepper with cherry tomatoes for starters, roast pork and dauphinoise potatoes followed by banoffi cheesecake.

Mystery Blanket workshop day 3

Saturday morning starts with a power cut, I think my trusty tea urn may have just passed the sell by date! However, with only 11 guests it is actually far better to have freshly brewed pots of tea and coffee.

After breakfast we all bundle into the minibus and Volvo for a trip to St Jean d'Angely. It is market day and it is the second Saturday in the month which means the bigger market, which also means the yarn stall!

12 of us descend on the yarn van, run by Papa and son. Lots of violently coloured acrylic, some slightly shiny nylon ribbon in spots, stripes and flowers that knits into frilly scarves (one or two are seduced by this, more of this later in the week), but amongst all the acrylic there are a few gems,  some lovely multi-coloured sock yarn and a great, wool/cotton/alpaca blend. It was probably the busiest 10 minutes on that stall during the day. Onwards to the lovely interiors shop, which also benefited from a frenzy of shopping with Debbie leading the charge.

We wandered back through the market to meet Culli in the cafe by the car park for warming hot chocolates and coffee and of course a bit of knitting.

After lunch we take everyone back to La Verderie to admire my new, but slightly chilly studio and make some purchases from the last few remnants of stock from Kangaroo followed by tea and biscuits. We leave hardened rugby fans Culli, Chris and Clare (and Wendy, but I think she was more interested in sleeping) to watch the the England/Wales match and go back to La Nougeree so that I can prepare supper and the rest can knit. However, the Welsh contingency also insist on watching the rugby, I truly wish we hadn't. I end up spending the evening with a depressed husband and three very smug Welsh guests.......................

Oh No! Wales have won.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Mystery Blanket workshop day 2

Sunday, it is still freezing cold but the sun is shining.
Culli makes breakfast at La Verderie for Debbie, Wendy, Clare, Chris and Mary, I go to La Nougeree via the Boulangerie with fresh bread and croissant for Felicity, Elizabeth, Gill, Andrea, Helen, Viviane and Katherine.  After breakfast the La Verderie group arrive and everyone sits down to a full day workshop working on the 2013 Mystery Blanket project.

Gill reminds us that it is red nose day and has brought along one to model.

The Mystery Blanket Club is a wonderful concept developed by knitting designer Debbie Abrahams, and this is what you sign up for when you join -

The Mystery Blanket club is a unique knitting experience which invites knitters from all over the world to join. Over ten months, subscribers receive patterns and materials to knit individual squares which join together to make an exquisite blanket. The theme of the project is kept secret, only to be discovered as the squares are completed and the blanket takes shape.
Through the club, friendships have been made, techniques have been mastered and many happy hours of knitting have been had. Each design is exclusive and will not be published in any other format when the club has closed. This is a one-off project that is a must-have for knitters of all abilities!

Beading with dental floss

At this workshop Debbie is on hand to sort out any problems that anyone has with their project and explain the new technique she is using for beading with dental floss, also known as the hooking in method. Brilliant! it leaves the beads sitting really snug against the fabric and means you can bead on every stitch and every row if wanted. I think it will also work with a fine fishing line and will experiment tomorrow.
The patterns and yarn for the 2013 blanket are gorgeous and I wish I was making it.
The day flies by, with just a few breaks for tea, coffee, biscuits, lunch, and a brisk walk around the block.
Supper of Roquefort cheese, pear and walnut salad, duck breasts with wine and chocolate sauce and panetonne and brioche pudding with caramelised orange, the conversation is getting louder in the dining room and the wine seems to be going down faster.

Mystery Blanket knitting workshop with Debbie Abrahams - Day 1

Thursday 14th March, everyone is meant to be arriving here from the UK and it is snowing........! OMG, there are cancellations on Eurostar and flights delayed, are all my ladies going to arrive safely?
Amazingly, they do and the longest delay is only 20 minutes. Six arrive at Angouleme and the other five and Debbie fly into Bordeaux, by 8pm everyone is sitting in front of a roaring fire with glasses of Kir Royale clutched in their hands, phew!

The first supper is relatively subdued, everyone is tired after a long day of travelling and making new friends.

We have five returning guests (Clare, Wendy, Elizabeth, Felicity and Mary) and 6 new ones (Chris, Viviane, Helen, Katherine and sisters Andrea and Gill), but many of them know each other from other workshops and Ravelry so after the first evening they are like old friends. We have a reasonably early night ready for a day of knitting tomorrow.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Painting and woodturning workshop

the painters
We had our first painting and woodturning weekend at La Verderie and it was a great success.
Painting tutor Pamela Slater coped well with 5 participants working in different mediums. Jen chose to work in acrylics, Moira oil and Sue, Frances and Pirette all went for watercolour. Everyone went away happy feeling that they had achieved something. I even had a little dabble in oil painting on Sunday, which I really enjoyed and it has inspired me to have a go at some more.

samples of Roger's beautiful woodturning

the woodturning workshop

Steve and Jim clutching their finished bowls
Woodturners Steve, Jim and William were overjoyed with their results, under the careful supervision of tutor Roger Slater they turned a dibber each on the first day of the course and a bowl each on the second day. It was an intensive couple of days and everyone went away exhausted but there were mutterings of looking for lathes on ebay so I think that at least two of them are now hooked!

The next painting and woodturning weekend will be on 11th and 12th May and is open to residential and non-residential participants for further details visit the Art in France website.

Thanks to a cutting error on the glass at Bricomarche Culli and Steve didn't get the front of the barn finished until Monday, however, it looks fantastic, just needs the painter (me!) to finish it off, but that will have to wait until after the Mystery Blanket workshop as I have 12 bedrooms to prepare before next week!

my new studio

I am afraid that we won't have the weather for the knitting workshop that we had this time last year, it is starting to warm up a tad, but has been very windy and there is more rain forecast for next week. Never mind lots of knitting in front of a toasty fire.

The cranes have been migrating the last few days, you can hear them coming before you see them, it sounds like a flock of demented chickens and then you see hundreds of them gliding along on the thermals, an amazing sight.