Monthly Archives: June 2013

Le Tour de Fleece 2013: Day Two

Exciting racing for day two! Well done to Jan Bakelants! We were on the edge of our seats watching the last couple of km.

I have now finished spinning the singles of my rainbow merino:


Plying tomorrow! One of these days I shall finish early enough to take a photo in reasonable daylight. Today’s coin is a French 1 Euro for Sylvain Chavanel’s 34th birthday today.

Le Tour de Fleece 2013: Day One

It is that time of year! Time to spin along while watching the Tour de France. This year is a special year because it is the 100th edition of the Tour, and it is all in France.

The cyclists had a rather chaotic start day in Corsica, with lots of people falling off, and the end being moved and then moved back again when the Orica Greenedge bus got stuck under the banner across the finish line. Luckily I had a much better day (apart from loosing a 1 Euro coin in the flower bed – the perils of spinning photography!).


I am starting off by finishing some rainbow merino from Wingham Woolworks which I am spinning into a 3ply for socks. This is the second bobbin which I finished off today. Today’s coin is a German 1 Euro for Marcel Kittel’s win.

Vitamin D

Yet another finished knitting project! I am beginning not to recognise myself. Don’t worry I shall be back to my usual very slow projects now.


The pattern is Vitamin D by Heidi Kirrmaier, the yarn is my handspun 80% alpaca, 20% merino. I used 3mm needles, and 648g, 1356m yarn.


I tinkered with the pattern a bit because my yarn was a bit different to that called for in the pattern. I tried knitting my yarn on the recommended needles (3.5mm), but although the tension I was getting was just right I really didn’t like the feel of the fabric. My yarn was spun rather tightly (something I need to work on!) and on the larger needles instead of a lovely drapey fabric it just felt like knitted string – not nice! So after a bit of experimenting I ended up using 3mm needles. My fabric was quite a bit denser than the pattern recommended, but I thought the stitches looked better.

This meant I had to alter things a little so that the cardigan would fit me. I made the XL size, but also added in an extra row of increases in the yoke, and made the armholes deeper and the sleeves wider. I also added in an extra set of short rows to make the whole thing longer (I generally like my cardies to be long).

It was fun to knit. It is an interesting construction. You start at the neck and knit downwards. Knitting the sleeves first and then the body. The body has decorative eyelets (which don’t show up that well because my yarn was rather hairy and my fabric fairly dense), which also add circular yoke shaping. The sleeves are raglan. The short row shaping makes the fronts roughly quarter-circles.

It is very cosy and comfortable to wear – I especially like that the shoulders stay on even when the cardigan is worn open. I find so many cardigans I try on slip off one shoulder if I actually move at all. I like the idea of the drapey fronts but am not totally convinced that they like me. I am still on the search for a flattering cardi, I’m not sure that this is it – but I shall be wearing it a lot anyway because it is so lovely and snuggly 🙂

Blue Baroque Socks

It has been a busy week and a half since we came back from France. First a few days with my Mum, dragging her along to a couple of spinning group meetings. Then we went to visit my uncle and auntie, and then to some friends.

After having dropped her off for her next holiday, we had a day to ourselves, and then went to help my parents in law move house. Or get in the way while they moved house 🙂

I had to have a day off after that! Then this week has been spent catching up on everything. There is still some way to go!

One of the things I have managed to catch up on is to photograph my latest finished pair of socks.


The pattern is Baroque (a free pattern from Knitty). The yarn is handspun merino 3ply, the fibre was bought from Wingham Woolwork, but I don’t think it is part of their standard range. It is actually made from two very similar shades of navy blended together which makes it look like one colour, but it has a bit more depth than a totally flat one colour fibre. I used 2.25mm needles and made the large size, and used 123g which is 300m.BlueBaroqueSocks2

These were good fun to knit and I am very pleased with them. The yarn shows the pattern well – it was quite firmly twisted so shows up the cables.

These did take me quite a while, I started them back in February. The pattern is quite dense with all the small twisted stitch cables, and so there are a lot of rows to the centimetre. Also knitting in navy in the winter wasn’t the world’s greatest plan 🙂

I nearly managed to shock you with two finished projects, but the other one is going back to the drawing board. I have been making the most simple Faroese shawl (just garter stitch with some eyelets round the edges) from Myrna Stahman’s Faroese Shawl book. I have been jiggling around with the shaping though to suit my yarn (a merino/tencel 4ply I dyed a few years ago), not entirely successfully. I widened the back panel which I think has worked, but made the shoulders wider and I think I have over-done it.


These pictures don’t show the worst of it, but it really looks like I should take up American Football or join the cast of Dynasty with shoulders like that.FaroeseShawl2

Because the shoulder shaping extends beyond my own shoulders by about an inch on each side it just emphasises that my shoulders are rather narrow and rounded. When I was doing my calculations I failed to take into account just how much the tencel would make the fabric drape once I had finished the whole shawl. I measured it all when it was only about 6 inches down (you knit this one from the top), and it seemed to be going fine, but of course at that point it didn’t have the weight of the other 250g of yarn pulling the shoulders down.

Anyway, the upshot is that I am going to undo it back to the shoulders and do some recalculations. The good news is that I really enjoyed knitting it the first time, it is a lovely slinky yarn but the merino adds enough elasticity to make it easy to knit with. I’m sure I shall enjoy it just as much the second time around (actually this is the third, but the first attempt had the shoulders far too small and didn’t actually get very far).

Saintes and Finishing Up

Today was a slightly earlier start than usual so that we had time to go to the Bergere de France shop on the outskirts of Saintes, and then into the town to visit the market and have a
wander round before coming back to Le Vieux Monastere for lunch. I enjoyed looking at all the yarns in the Bergere de France shop but didn’t buy anything this year, although several of our group did take good advantage of their summer sale. Saintes is a town with a lot of Roman remains, here is a view of the cathedral as seen through the triumphal arch:


The market is alongside the cathedral and is mostly food, with some very good looking fruit and veg and lots of interesting cheeses.


After the market we wandered along to the Abbey aux Dames (I think I have remembered the name right) and found these lovely flowers growing at the base of one of the walls.


On the way back to base we stopped to take some photos of where we were staying from across the fields. So here is my attempt at being artistic.


In the afternoon we were back in the workshop, working on whichever project we wanted to from the week. I finished my first Knit One Below mitten:


Joanne finished her Entrelac cowl to match her beret.


Nicole finished her coffee pot cover with some lovely buttons she bought in Saintes.


I finished my Entrelac cowl – I am looking forward to wearing it this winter.


And Sue finished her beret.


At the end of the afternoon everyone laid out the pieces they had been working on through the week, so that we could go round and admire them with a glass of fizz in hand. It was a wonderful opportunity to see all the beautiful things everyone had created, and to thank Graham and Christine for being such great hosts.

Here is everyone’s work:





























I love seeing the diversity and creativity. Everyone has started from the same ingredients but has brought their own personality to their knitting. What a lot of gorgeous things!



I had a wonderful time, a lovely week with such talented and interesting students. There are still some places available on the French Treats holiday this September. Fiona will be teaching broadly the same programme as we have been doing this week. Also there will be another holiday next June. The dates and subjects to be covered haven’t been finalised yet but it will probably be the
second week in June. I am very biased, but would encourage you to sign up, partly because it is great fun! And partly because if there are enough participants I can go again as teaching assistant 🙂


Today has been a day with lots of knitting, and some exciting weather!

The workshop topic for today was Entrelac. These are Fiona’s samples:




It has also been a good day for finishing things. Here is my coffee pot cover (I still need to find some nice buttons for the closure, and am thinking of trying to make some out of Fimo).


Here is the inside showing the crocheted steek.


Joanne finished her beret. Beautifully knitted, I love the colour combination, and it looks great on her.


I made some good progress on my Entrelac. I have decided to make the smaller cowl in stocking stitch, using the alternating colours.


The weather has definitely turned today. We went for a swim before dinner, and only just managed it before it started to rain! We have also had thunder and lightning and a power cut which meant a candle-lit shower after the swim!

Knit One Below

Today was a full day of knitting, noses to the grindstone!

The new subject for today was knit one below, but people were of
course free to continue with projects from earlier in the week if
they preferred. Here are the two mitten patterns that Fiona
designed using this technique.


As you can see we have accumulated quite a lot of
paper and knitting on the work table, but fun was had along with
the learning.


We went for a lovely dip in the pool before dinner. The weather has been gorgeous and sunny, and the wind has dropped. It was great to drift in the pool looking up at the sky.


Joanne finished her first mitten already.


I have made good progress on mine (you may recognise the neon yarn from the other day!)


This evening we went for a meal at the Auberge des Glycines at Taillebourg, on the banks of the river Charente. He is the view from the front of the restaurant.


The food was delicious and the setting delightful. I have eaten so much good food I shall be spherical by the time I go home!

La Rochelle

Today we gave our brains a rest and our wallets a workout with a trip to La Rochelle.


Unfortunately one of the yarn shops we visited last year has since shut down, but we did visit the other two, along with a chocolate shop, and an ice-cream shop.

The weather has been hot and sunny, and when we got back several of us did a few laps of the pool. It is a great size, big enough to actually swim properly, but not unmanageable.

This evening was Show and Tell. We saw lots of lovely things! Myra has finished her mug hug.


And here is the inside to see the finished steek.


Last night we had a lovely walk up the road from Le Vieux Monastere, here is the view back. Totally beautiful. It is a very restful and peaceful place.


Stranded Knitting

Today has been a whole day of knitting in the workshop. We have been doing stranded knitting with a yarn in each hand, and steeking, and some people have been continuing with their lace from yesterday.

These are two variations of the coffee pot cover Fiona has designed. It is the same pattern but one uses the multicolour yarn for the background and the other for the foreground.



For those who preferred to start on something a little smaller, Fiona also designed some mug hugs for people to try.



And a beret pattern, for those who wanted to make something with shaping in, but without the steeks. These three berets are from the same pattern, but with different yarns. The first two have been blocked over plates, but the third left to dry to its unstretched shape, for if you prefer a more casual look.




Sandra as completed our first finished project of the week with her mug hug!


Swiftly followed by Elisabeth with hers.


I am making progress with my rather fluorescent coffee pot cover:


And I have done a bit more of my lace.


Everybody has been doing really well, and learning lots.

Lace and Cognac

Today we got down to some serious knitting! This morning was lace.

Here is my whole goody bag for the week, the bright multicolour is 4ply weight, and we are using this to make a lace shawl. You can make a reasonable sized shawl from only one ball.


This is Fiona’s sample showing the finished shawl:


And another of her samples showing a variation using slightly different lace patterns and also adding beads:


This is my progress so far!


Everyone is progressing really well, especially considering that for some this is their first experience of lace or charts.

In the afternoon we gave our brains a little rest and went for a trip to Cognac, and had a really interesting tour of the Baron Otard distillery. They are in a building in which Francis I was born, and which has connections to Richard the Lionheart.


And also happened to have some fantastic doorways.


It was probably best that the Cognac testing came after the lace knitting!