Custom Knitting Breaks

 In the olden days, many people made their living by knitting.
Endlessly knitting …..
often the same item, such as stockings, over & over again.    
In fact, until the Rennaissance most of them were men. 
For many, knitting was simply a means to an end.

These days, knitters knit for many reasons. 

Few though, use knitting as their sole source of income ! 
Knitting has become an exciting artistic endeavour,
a way to express our ideas, to relax, to connect
& to enjoy making something useful, attractive or (hopefully) both. 
That’s one of the reasons why so many of our Handwork Ateliers focus on
the art of knitting. 

It really does tick all of the boxes.

In this hectic world, knitting affords us the opportunity
to sit & make & think & rest. 
Four things that are sadly underrated by a lot of people. 

It seems that so many people feel that their value is calculated by
• how quickly they finished reading a book -
• how many chores they completed over the weekend  - 
• how many meetings they sat through in a day. 

We know that the pace of life has increased relentlessly,
which is why we have decided to offer
Custom Knitting Breaks.

Tailored to suit your skill level(s), interests, budget & most importantly
- your schedule. 

It easy to plan one. 
All you need is 3 friends ( or more) who would like to 
join you for a wonderful getaway replete with
great food, beautiful surroundings as well as lots of knitting, experimenting & fun. 

We will create a personalized course just for you including
trips to inspiring sites & fabulous shopping. 

Write to us now & let’s plan a fabulous treat !

 

 

Off-the-Clock Knitting

When I first learned to knit, it took me years to realize that there are different types of knitting. As much as I didn’t want to admit it …. 

I don’t mean the obvious differences like techniques or stitches.  Books & books are filled with those. Of course, there is an infinite number of projects that you can knit, too.  How many people have ever knit with every possible fibre?  Combine all of the variables with your own knitting gauge & personal taste.  
The possibilities of the 
Art of Knitting
stretch & morph
until they 
blanket
the horizon. 

Exciting,
inspiring,
fulfilling.  

What about the big, messy, tangled skein of wool sitting at the bottom of the knitting world’s basket ? No one really talks about the other factor that changes how you knit – the recipient.  Think about it – when you knit for yourself (or make anything for yourself) – don’t you have a different voice in your head than when you are knitting for someone else ? 

Why is it OK if you don’t sew the ends in quite so beautifully for yourself when you wouldn’t dream of giving someone a gift with a messy wrong side ?   It’s hard to admit that you let things slide a bit when you are the one who is going to wear it – isn’t it ?  (I have another post rolling around in my head about WHY we do this – stay tuned…)

So, now you have two types of knitting.  Here’s the third & most complex in my opinion. 

Professional Knitting. 

Whether it is a commissioned piece
or something you’re hoping to sell,
your inner voice becomes more insistent. 

Perfect,
perfect,
perfect.  

Hurry,
hurry,
hurry. 

Can you still enjoy knitting when the client element is added into the mix ?

 
Luckily, I have never been in this last category.  I was once a professional dressmaker & have sewn for many women.  Even made wedding dresses, which in my opinion are the most stress-inducing garments on the planet.  I enjoyed the challenge of distilling the client’s ideas & dreams into a wearable, beautiful gown. I liked the back & forth repartee between us as I carefully navigated the dangerous terrains of body type, suitable colours & the ever-present (& mostly unwanted !! ) input from mothers, sisters & bridesmaids.  The final fitting was my favourite part - like opening night at the theatre.

Euphoria.

Back to knitting. 

I began tweaking patterns early in my knitting life.  There were usually one or more elements which I wanted to change in a commercial pattern.  Gradually, I gave up trying to find the perfect pattern – it was faster to just design one. 

A few decades later & I have decided that it is time for me to share some of my designs with other knitters.  I figure that if I could design, sew, fit & finish numerous wedding ensembles surely writing a knitting pattern would be easy enough.  Easy for who ?  When I knit, I make many notes, markings, calculations, etc. on my patterns.  Often I draw the pattern out full-scale…  so that I can see exactly what I’m going to get (always a seamstress, I suppose).  I rarely remember to write everything down.  How could anyone else understand my scribbles ? 

So, I am not going to jump into the “knitting-for-money” pond just yet but wade around the edges.  I won’t get to have that same give & take with my client but I also won’t have to hear the clock ticking while I knit.  It feels like a fair trade.  I’ve cleaned up my notes, re-done my sketches & knit using my very best “gift-quality” knitting. 

The curtain is about to go up –  

Leave a comment & I’ll send you my first pattern for this Cool Spring Sun Hat – perfect for those days when it’s chilly but bright.  I hope that you will enjoy using it to make a wonderful gift for a much-loved little one. 

Happy knitting !

Elizabeth

Desert Island Knitting

While preparing to move from Toronto to France almost 2 years ago,
I slipped right into the “desert-island” mode -

amassing the things I thought would be hard to find here. 
I knew that there would be plenty of delicious cheese, fresh bread &
all of the chocolate anyone could wish for.

I was looking forward to living in an old country where some people live in buildings that were built around the time that William the Conqueror was heading for England
(of course Canada has a long history but
civilization is still a relatively new concept on that side of the Atlantic!) 

My two biggest concerns were
(don’t laugh – they seemed very real to me at the time):

1)      Where would I get new books ?  I am a confirmed bibliophile & need a constant influx of new titles to feed my voracious habit.  I assumed that this would be difficult given that the few English books I had seen in bookshops here were limited to pulp-fiction & the odd fashion magazine.

2)     Where would I get more yarn?

 I grew up in a handwork-family & have never known
a period in my life when I didn’t have a few projects on the go.  The yarn shops that I had managed to find on previous visits to France offered
such uninspiring selections – mountains of synthetic atrocities which
made me shudder mixed in with some saggy linens & scratchy wools.  
During the wild weeks of packing for our big move,
I spent precious time buying yarn & lots of it!

It took me about 6 months to solve my first problem. 
It turns out that Amazon.fr sells almost any book I desire.  
Now, on to my second… I finished the sweater I had begun during our move& worked on other projects, all the while
contemplating my dwindling yarn stash.  I was starting to think about
placing a desperate call to my Mother, begging her to
ship some fresh provisions, when,
just days before our first Christmas here, I spotted
a small sign posted in a market in one of our favourite towns, Dinan. 

“Café-Tricot” – English Speakers Welcome.  

Although I had been working on my French,
I didn’t feel confident enough to face a group of ladies all
chatting away while knitting.  That little sign helped me to
 summon my courage & I
attended the next evening where I met
Sylvie Cambet, the owner of the Dinan’s premier yarn shop,
Fil de Lune

Nestled in the Passage de la Tour de l’Horloge
(beneath the 15th century clock tower), I was thrilled to find that she has stocked her tiny space with a multitude of yarns, embellishments & knitting accessories.  Just what I had been pining for!

Sylvie, “une créatrice textile”
(I WISH it sounded so good when you say it in English !!!)
had several careers before opening her shop in 2010. 
I’m sure that her years as a
concert pianist & flight attendant taught her
many skills necessary for running a business but she was probably
born with her daring colour sense & innate love of fibre. 

I’m sure that I’m not the first person
to describe her shop as “bijou” but it is the best word I can think of
– full of bright colours & yarns from many of the
best suppliers including Anny Blatt, Noro, Lang, Plassard, Fonty & Bouton d’Or -
it is a very inviting &  inspiring place. 

One thing that I find sets her apart from other yarn retailers that I have discovered in France, is that she’s willing to take a chance – lately she brought in some yarn made from the
up-cycled selvedges of cotton T-shirts. It is big, stretchy & completely unusual. 
I like that. 

Sylvie’s always working on a new commission for one of her loyal clients,
they obviously like her style too! 
Check out her work at www.fildelune-tricot.blogspot.fr

Agnes & I have been attending the
café-tricots regularly for the last several months & have enjoyed them immensely.
It’s such a treat to take the time to sit, chat & knit
for a whole TWO hours !

To our future Handwork Atelier participants:
We look forward to introducing you to Sylvie & we’re sure you’ll count your visit to
Fil de Lune as one of your many happy memories of your time in France!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Knitter is Born

Knitting is amazing! 

I’m an enthusiastic beginner, but the ideas are already popping out of my head.  It all began with a sweater for my newest grandson (he’s due any week now). I chose a soft, sky-blue pure merino wool. Of course, I immediately thought of my other grandsons.  “Why not knit the same sweater for all of them as Easter gifts?”  

In short order, I knit four marine-inspired pullovers.  Keep your eye out here for a photo of my delicious little boys in matching stripes.  I can already imagine chasing them around trying to get them to sit still long enough!

Now, I’m giving myself a treat.  I’ve started a fine scarf of virgin, un-dyed angora.   It’s the most unusual fibre. I find it hard to believe that it is simply fur gently combed from a cuddly little rabbit.  My hands adore the feeling of the delicate cloud grey stitches & I know I’ll treasure it for years to come.

Next on my needles will be a sweet peony pink sweater for my little granddaughter who lives in Sri Lanka.  I’ve bought a wonderful bamboo/soy blend which will be perfect for a tropical evening.

I’m proud of my achievements.  I feel like I’ve come a long way in such a short time.  Knitting is like that I think.  Once you get started, you learn by doing, making mistakes & experimenting.  I already have a huge “TO KNIT” list & look forward to every project !

My knitting is calling…

AGNES

PS  If you’d like to join me in learning to knit or becoming a more confident knitter, read on about our Novice Knits Atelier - September 14-17.

PPS – Read Agnes’ story here.

.

… like a knitted Venus, rising from the waves….

How I design - in a million steps (or so).

I try to stem the tide of ideas when they rush in at me as I lie in bed desperately attempting to go to sleep.  Must … have…something…. to… write….on….  I groggily think of the urban myth (which I believe is very likely true) that Martha Stewart sleeps with the light on so that she doesn’t have to waste any time turning it on when she gets an idea in the night!  Sometimes, I can remember those great ideas that waft through my consciousness just before I drop off but not always.  I console myself that if there is a good one, it’ll hang around until I get to some paper & a pen. 

Luckily, some of my best ideas come while I’m fully awake, usually as I’m doing rhythmic things (or things that I can do on auto-pilot).  Driving is great, so is having a shower & even clearing the table – my mind wanders back to its current interest – like a mouse worrying a big nut that it can’t crack.  Rolling around & around, back & forth, looking at the “problem” from every angle.  Finally, one aspect of the project sticks.   Something rings true & I say to myself “yes, I like that – I’ll start there…” 

Once I have the first part settled in my mind, the rest start to fall into place, not right away – that would be too easy – but bit by bit, sometimes 2 or 3 bits at once.  I’ll see a china pattern at the charity shop or a silk curtain in a movie & it will spark something that eventually leads to a tiny flame & soon I’ve got a whole fire roaring in there.  I must admit, that when I’m on a creative bent, I’m probably a bit vague around others.  Preoccupied by the swirling images in my head, the challenge really does start to take over. 

Until finally, I have it! 

The piece is there - its shape, size & colour, fibres & stitch patterns – the whole thing.  To others, it may seem that it rose gracefully from the ocean, fully-formed like some knitted Venus but I know that it took me days, even weeks to shape the initial mists of an idea into a coherent, recorded pattern. 

Now, the easy steps – the measurements, some swatching & finally I can begin to knit.

I have decided that it’s time to start my next project.  I often alternate between knitting from a commercial pattern (although, I rarely resist the urge to tweak it a bit) & designing from scratch. Over the next little while, I am going to attempt to document the entire process.  I’m putting on the brakes every time my mind starts running away.   I want to catch those flitting thoughts as they come & record them with images & words.

Watch for my next installment – “How inspiration tames the chaos in my mind“.

Elizabeth

PS  Off to Paris tomorrow to attend the L’aiguille en Fête show – inspiration deluxe !

Custom Knits Atelier

 

 

Knitting for little ones ?

Were you inspired to take up knitting needles for the first time because of someone little?   Very little. Maybe, it was someone you hadn’t even met yet.    The thought of wrapping a tiny new person in something warm & comforting that you made just for them was enchanting. 

Perhaps you are a seasoned knitter?  A multitude of yarns have sped through your fingers making countless booties, sweaters, hats & blankets.  You are delighted still by starting another small creation. 

But what if you don’t know how to knit?

Read on to see what exciting ideas we have in mind for novice & accomplished knitters during our Little Knits Atelier this April.

Custom Knits Atelier

Our blog update is almost complete but we couldn’t
wait a moment longer to unveil the details for the first Handwork Atelier of 2012 – our Custom Knits Atelier

Just think what you could design if you had an entire weekend to relax, be inspired & experiment !  Read the journal of a Handwork Atelier & imagine yourself sipping a cup of tea in the Grand Salon of Les Trauchandières.

Agnes & Elizabeth