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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Knitting and crochet workshop in France with tutor Carol Meldrum

Due to a cancellation we have two spaces available (sharing a twin room) for this fantastic workshop. The dates are from 28th June - 4th July 2014, which just happens to coincide with the Cognac Blues Passion festival, so if you want to bring along a non-knitting partner who is into music it could be the perfect holiday!
Carol is a fantastic tutor and the small group of 4 or 5 people allows one to one tuition on all knitting and crochet techniques.
For further details visit the Knitting holidays in France website here, or email
This is what we got up to last year
lunch at the marina in Royan

stained glass windows at the Church in Royan

some of the crochet produced during the workshop


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

April knitting holiday in France - last two days

Monday morning looks brighter, Culli and I have an early start as BeBop has to go to the vets for an operation on his eye, so after a long walk Culli takes him in for a day at the vets.
Imogen's lace scarf

Imogen's patchwork bag

Joan's chunky cable cardi

Betina's socks & beading sample

Betina's crochet shawls

I spend the morning helping Imogen with her patchwork squares, not that she needs much help as she is romping through the pattern. Joan is knitting more of her chunky cardi and Betina is swopping between socks and her crochet shawl.
edge of Le Vieux Port


the lovely streets of La Rochelle

gift packed sardines

hand made soaps

sadly not the real Jack Sparrow

Ice creams

We have an early lunch and go off to La Rochelle for a wander around the beautiful town with its designer clothes and colourful gift shops, followed by a coffee and ice creams in Le Vieux Port.
When we get back BeBop is home after his op which went well, but we have some worrying news from the vet as she has found a tumour in his mouth, so we now have to wait two weeks for the biopsy results and then possibly an agonising decision on what to do next. In spite of a general anaesthetic he is back to his usual chirpy self by bedtime, so it is hard to believe that there might be something seriously wrong.
BeBop and Buddy

Today is the last day of the retreat, after a leisurely breakfast Culli takes Joan to the airport in La Rochelle and I take Imogen and Betina to Bordeaux, we drop Imogen off at the airport for her flight and Betina and I go into Bordeaux so that she can visit La Droguerie and the book shop. She buys some lovely blue/grey alpaca yarn and a crochet book at La Droguerie and some more crochet books in the bookshop, her bag must weigh a ton as she has bought at least 9 or 10 crochet books over the last few days. I drop her off at the airport and set off for home.
cake shop in Bordeaux

It has been a lovely few days, I think we have all learnt a lot and really enjoyed each others company.
I now have a few days for housework, shopping and cooking before the Mystery Blanket workshop starts on Sunday, fingers crossed for a bit more sunshine.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

April knitting holiday in France

We have three guests at La Verderie this week for a knitting retreat, Imogen and Joan from the UK and Betina from Portugal (our first Portuguese guest!) After two weeks of glorious sunshine we are dodging April showers, but that hasn't stopped the knitting and crochet.
Betina knitting the Portuguese way
Betina has brought along a beautiful crochet shawl to work on and a pair of socks, which she knits the Portuguese way with the yarn around her neck, amazing to watch and gives a beautifully even tension.
patchwork bag project
Imogen is learning new knitting techniques, starting with a lace scarf, but has now opted to try a workshop project for a patchwork bag using different patterns and textures.
Joan's shawl
 Joan has brought along a lovely light shawl that she has just finished off and a Kim Hargreaves design (Nat), a fitted cardigan knitted in Rowan Big Wool, she is also like me trying to improve her crochet techniques.
the start of my crochet cushion cover
I am working on a crochet cushion cover in a mix of bright cottons from my stash.
On Thursday I picked up Imogen from the airport and we went into Bordeaux for a couple of hours while we waited for Betina's flight to arrive from Lisbon. After making the compulsory visit to yarn shop La Droguerie, we spent another hour in a wonderful book shop, then back to the airport and home.

chocolate shop in Cognac

the main square in Cognac

On Friday we hit the yarn shop in Cognac, then a wander through the town and a coffee in the square.

flower stall at St Jean d'Angely market

shopping in St Jean d'Angely

the old streets in St Jean

Saturday morning was a visit to the market in St Jean d'Angely then home for an afternoon of knitting and crochet.
Betina with her new yarn bowl

Culli has been busy making yarn bowls, Betina has bought a cherry one and Joan has gone for an elm one.
Sunday's forecast was wet and windy, Imogen came with me for an early morning walk with the dogs and we got soaked to the skin. Everyone opted for a day at home so we had a short beading workshop and spent a relaxing day, chatting with our projects.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Open studio

Our Easter Exhibition at La Verderie was a gentle start to the season with not exactly hoards of visitors but a steady flow.

John's beautifully renovated clocks were a great success, the bells, chimes and cuckoos echoed around the barn and garden all weekend. Judith sold loads of her lovely greetings cards and I did well on tea and cakes, having just discovered that with my new cooker I can finally cook scones!
We ended the weekend with curry for 16 of us on Sunday evening in the garden.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Knitting holidays in France

The second knitting and crochet holiday for 2014 started on Wednesday.
Regular visitor Margaret and her hubby Richard arrived by car from their home in Brittany and Culli collected the other two guests Clare and Sandra from Bordeaux along with his old school friend John, so it is a full house.
After a few glasses of wine and late supper everyone collapsed for the night.
Sandra, Margaret and I started the day walking the dogs before breakfast, then we all settled down for a day of knitting. Everyone has brought along very different projects, Clare is knitting a Rowan pattern which her friend(!) Sandra says will make her 'look like an exploding perforated snowflake', she is also making some crochet hats for KAS (knit a square South Africa). Sandra  is leaping between a chunky hat, a pair of ribbed mitts, blanket squares and a Debbie Bliss child's sweater. Margaret is knitting her third ASJ (Elizabeth Zimmerman Surprise Jacket), a knitted mouse, a cotton and bamboo cardi and some fingerless mitts. I am dodging between finishing off a fairisle tank top and another Ballerina bunny.
We had supper of asparagus wrapped in parma ham, followed by duck breast with prune and chocolate sauce and tarte tatin, lots of wine and lively conversation.
Roman amphitheatre in Saintes

coffee and beer in Saintes
On Friday we have another early morning walk with the dogs, then go into Saintes to visit the wool and fabric shop. Sandra bought some lovely fine baby yarn, ribbons and novelty tape measures, Margaret bought a piece of fabric to make a scarf and I bought a book of sewing patterns.
After a quick visit to the Roman amphitheatre we went for coffee in the centre of town, then drove home dropping Clare and Sandra off in Brizambourg for lunch at our local bar. Margaret and I settled down in the garden for an afternoon of knitting. Margaret's husband Richard has been taking some amazing photograph's for his 365 project and I have talked him into taking a few for my website and the blog. We had supper of smoked salmon pate, seafood pasta and chocolate torte.

On Saturday Sandra, Margaret, Richard and I went into St Jean d'Angely for the market and Culli took John back to the airport for his flight home. We wandered through the market and town, stopping for a coffee in the sunshine then back home for lunch. In the afternoon I did a short workshop on knitting with beads. Clare has started to crochet a beaded cushion in a lovely soft lilac cotton with yellow beads. Supper was pear, roquefort and walnut salad, chicken and fennel cassoulet followed by cheesecake.

Clare with her wine stash

On Sunday morning Margaret and I dragged Richard along to a brocante, a definite improvement on the one last week. I bought a some jars to sort my button collection into and we both bought plants, lots of herbs and a few lettuce. We spent the afternoon in the garden enjoying the sunshine.

Clare had to leave on Monday for work, so I dropped her off in Bordeaux, leaving the others relaxing in the sunshine. A final round up of projects, Clare had nearly finished her jacket and completed one side of the beaded crochet cushion, Sandra had got a bit further with everything, but nothing completed and Margaret made me 3 mice for the Open House at the weekend and was close to finishing her surprise jacket.

Clare's cardi

Margaret modelling her almost finished jacket