Category Archives: Teaching

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!

Arriving in France

Today we flew out to La Rochelle for the start of this years French Treats knitting holiday. As with last year I am being Fiona’s little helper.

In very apt fashion the airplane had a City and Guilds logo on the side (did they know that several of us are studying City and Guilds knitting with Fiona?!)


As you can see it also had an energy certificate on the side which made it look a little like a fridge or a washing machine!

We arrived in time to enjoy our slightly squashed sandwiches for lunch. Then helped to organise the goody bags of yarn for everyone this afternoon.

The weather is a little breezy but still sunny, and this evening we have been sitting outside and knitting. This is the life!


Tomorrow we knuckle down to the hard work of serious knitting! Then a trip to Cognac in the afternoon.

A nephew, a workshop, a conference, and some mittens

I do still exist! As you have probably already guessed August and September have been rather busy, so time for a bit of a catch up with what has been happening.

First and most excitingly, we have a new nephew! Aaron is now 6 weeks old and we have waved to him on the skype several times, and he has made the grumpy face back at us. I had better get a move on with designing his Christmas stocking, especially given the speed of my knitting.

At the beginning of August I helped Jill Brownjohn to run another Patchwork knitting get together. Here we all are getting a bit of direction from Jill:

This year we went for a more relaxed get-together rather than a formal workshop. We had a discussion about joining techniques for pre-knitted shapes, and those who wanted to had a go at the methods that interested them most. It was lovely to catch up with everyone and see what they had been making over the last year, and I think the format seemed to go down well. We are not sure what will happen in 2013 since the hall we have been using for the last several years in Marlow Bottom may be closed for renovation.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the In The Loop 3 conference at Winchester. A wonderful three days, full of interesting and varied speakers and a lot of cake 🙂 I completely failed to take any photos at all 🙁 I am looking forward to having some time soon to see if I can decipher any of the notes I made. Over-excitement and terrible handwriting are not a good combination. It is a good job there is the conference programme to at least tell me who was speaking so I can always google them when my writing of their websites is incomprehensible. I really hope they will run another conference in a couple of years. I thought the programme was very well thought-out and included a lot of different angles on knitting. Lots of food for thought.

And finally I have finished some fingerless mittens:

The pattern is Wrought Mitts, and I used 2.25mm needles and some orange merino/silk handspun that I had left over from making a couple of pairs of socks. In the end I used about 37g which is about 142m. I still have a tiny amount of the yarn left over which I think will be going in the bag for making City and Guilds samples.

My hands are right at the top of the size range of what the mittens would fit. They are ok, but I think if there had been a larger size I would have knitted that. Over all I am very pleased with them, and think they will come in handy now that the weather has turned a bit cooler.

As well as everything else we have been having a bit of a go at tidying up the garden. It has been biting back, in some cases literally, but luckily the latest batch of nasty insect bites are getting much better. I think I need to find a way to make me taste less nice, I manage to get bitten even when I am covered in insect repellant! Today I had a bit of a go at the pond, clearing out some of the mass of weeds. I managed not to fall in but did get covered in smelly black mud. The poor washing machine will be on overdrive tomorrow.

French Treats 2013

I am still catching up on my sleep / emails / washing / etc, after dropping Mummy off at a friend’s yesterday so they can all head off on the next holiday this morning. It seems that the best antidote to coming back from holiday is to go straight off on the next one 🙂

Anyway, just to let you know if you would like to join us for the French Treats holiday in 2013 it will be 2nd – 9th June 2013, and booking is open already. The info isn’t up on the website yet, but if you would like to book, or would like more information, contact Graham and Christine and they will be very happy to help. The knitting program is not finalised yet, but if you would like to come and there is something particular you would like covered, contact Fiona and let her know, and she can bear it in mind when she is creating the program.

I look forward to seeing you then!

The last night and time to come home

Last night before dinner we had a little exhibition of all our work from the week. Everyone laid out the things they had been working on all week and we wandered round and admired it all, with a glass of kir royale in hand. So here is everyone’s work:














Unfortunately I don’t seem to have photographed Myra’s work 🙁 If anyone has a photo of it I would love to see it.

Here we all are celebrating our achievements of the week:

And here are our lovely hosts Christine and Graham:

We then repaired to the dining room for another one of Christine’s wonderful meals. She really is a very good cook, very yummy food every day, I shall definitely not stand on the scales for some time 🙂 And then back to our rooms to wrestle with the packing.

Anne left last night, and Sue and Ruth left very early in the morning to get their train, but the rest of us had quite a leisurely start to the day, a final panic about the case, and time for Graham to squash all the cases in the minibus and the volvo, then he and David drove us to the station and then airport.

The journey home all went very smoothly. I have mostly unpacked now and done two loads of washing 🙂

It has been a lovely week. Such a nice time and I feel very lucky to have spent it with such a wonderful group of creative, fun, and talented ladies. Roll on next year! (though next time I will try to be a little more minimal with my packing, I got the prize on the way home for being the most over the weight limit)