Batteries recharged

I know I often say that things are "all go" around here but it really feels like the last few weeks have been a sprint to the half-term break. There's been loads of client work keeping me busy, shows to visit, and Yarn in the City planning to do.

Speaking of Yarn in the City - you *do* know about our call for submissions for our first book, right? Quick, go here and check out the details. I'll wait!

There's also got a new knitting project on the needles (only 64 more knitting days until Christmas!), which is a good thing as Mr. H has football four times a week and ice hockey too - so it's a good way for mummy's hands to be busy while she's watching from the sidelines. All of this has meant that it seems like school only just started and then we blinked and all of a sudden half term was here!

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to hear about a class in fair isle and colourwork that designer Mary Jane Mucklestone was going to be teaching at L'Oisive Thé et Tricot in Paris. To sweeten the deal, Mary Jane was traveling with good friend Gudrun Johnston, who would have a trunk show at shop in support of her new book, The Shetland Trader.

The mobile C&Q office on the Eurostar: have coffee and laptop, will travel!

The mobile C&Q office on the Eurostar: have coffee and laptop, will travel!

Knowing that this would be the perfect pre-mid-term break for mummy, I quickly sorted out some moderately priced tickets on the Eurostar and found a cute flat through Airbnb a quick 10 minute walk from the shop. (This was a rare treat for me as when I've gone to Paris previously for stitchy-related events, or even around the UK, I'm usually only able to get away for the day. Because the fair isle class was at night, it meant an overnight stay and an opportunity to explore a little more.)

The lovely yarns at L'Oisive Thé et Tricot - this shop is a MUST if you're ever in Paris

The lovely yarns at L'Oisive Thé et Tricot - this shop is a MUST if you're ever in Paris

Having only made the trek to L'Oisive Thé et Tricot once before, it was lovely to be able to sit with owner Aimee over a late lunch and learn more about the shop and see all the changes since last time. The shop is now the European flagship for Quince & Co and there is an abundance of hard-to-find-in-France yarns like Koigu, SweetGeorgia,  Madelinetosh, Biscotte & Cie, Freia... And the UK was well represented with Kettle Yarn Co, John Arbon Knit By Numbers, Baa Ram Ewe, Erika Knight, and more!

My fair isle cuff in progress. Somewhere along the way I lost one of my DPNs - surely a sign of a good class!

My fair isle cuff in progress. Somewhere along the way I lost one of my DPNs - surely a sign of a good class!

When I arrived back at the shop that night for the class, everyone was in full swing, pulling out the colours from their kit packages and immediately getting started working on the class project - a fair isle wrist cuff. We were given six colours and a pattern as a guide but encouraged to use any colours we wanted and just PLAY. 

Clockwise from top left: a spread of snacks to keep us going through the class, comparing cuffs at the end of the evening, Mary Jane talks about colour theory with example swatches from her book, and the inside of the fair isle vest from Mary Jane's Craftsy class - almost as pretty as the outside!

Clockwise from top left: a spread of snacks to keep us going through the class, comparing cuffs at the end of the evening, Mary Jane talks about colour theory with example swatches from her book, and the inside of the fair isle vest from Mary Jane's Craftsy class - almost as pretty as the outside!

Pretty soon there was colour everywhere as knitters got down to business, chatting happily in a mix of English, French and "Franglais". Throughout the evening Mary Jane explained the principles required for stranded colourwork to be considered "true" fair isle, and also provided an excellent explanation of colour theory and how to think about colours when pairing them together. Having learned how to do stranded colourwork before but not the principles behind fair isle, this was a very exciting bit of the class for me!

At the end of the class we all compared cuffs and talked about what we each liked and didn't like about our choices. This was a fantastic way to see how others had combined colours and get feedback from Mary Jane on why some combinations of colours didn't work or worked better than others - putting the colour theory into practice and reinforcing the lesson.

The obligatory group shot of the evening's knitters

The obligatory group shot of the evening's knitters

It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to do a class and there's nothing like learning something new to get the creative juices flowing. I returned to London feeling recharged and energised, happy to get back to my knitting, and eagerly looking forward to when I can take another class to learn something new.

Interruption

I'm interrupting the marathon of rainbow crochet squares and squeaking in this post to bring you a little update of my day trip to Paris last Thursday.

And now, it's on to the borders!

And now, it's on to the borders!

(Even after living in London for a year and a half I'm still tickled to be able to say that I went to Paris "for the day". If I'm honest, I'm not sure the novelty will wear off!).

Catherine, Alli and Karen ready to catch that 7:01am train!

Catherine, Alli and Karen ready to catch that 7:01am train!

The girls and I were at St. Pancras bright and early to catch the Eurostar to Paris. Catherine and I had planned this for a while but Karen ended up visiting due to work and happily decided to crash our party!

We were traveling down for L'Aiguille en Fete and decided to mix things up a bit this year by not heading directly to the show first thing.

We still haven't figured out how Karen didn't buy anything on this trip. At. All.

We still haven't figured out how Karen didn't buy anything on this trip. At. All.

Instead we decided to introduce Karen to the wonders of La Droguerie. None of us bought anything, choosing instead to save ourselves for the stitching show. I did price out some lovely merino/silk singles to make a wonderful cowl though. Since I'm going back to Paris in April I'm letting that simmer on the back burner for now...

Having a glass of wine while we wait before lunch at Le Boudoir. Have the tasting menu - it's divine.

Having a glass of wine while we wait before lunch at Le Boudoir. Have the tasting menu - it's divine.

After La Droguerie we headed to the trendy Champs Elysee and Franklin Roosevelt area for an extremely leisurely (3 hours!!) lunch. And then we were on to the Porte de Versailles for the show!

Aimee holds down the fort at the popular L'Oisive The et Tricot booth where knitters were two and three deep to check out the lovely yarns.

Aimee holds down the fort at the popular L'Oisive The et Tricot booth where knitters were two and three deep to check out the lovely yarns.

Since it was opening day we knew that the show was going to be a little crazy, but thank goodness it was less so than last year! Our hope that the crowds would have thinned by the mid afternoon seemed to have come true. The show also seemed slightly smaller than last year and one of the vendors said that the aisles had been widened so that likely factored in making a difference too.

I love the subtlety of colour in this French hand-dyed yarn.

I love the subtlety of colour in this French hand-dyed yarn.

Catherine and I were both tempted by some lovely pretties. I got a skein of French hand-dyed yarn and a vest's-worth of Icelandic lopi yarn (the same that I opted not to get last year - I figured if I'd been thinking about it for a year, I should probably get it!) and while I was tempted by plenty else, I stuck to what I had been on the look out for on my mental shopping list.

We even managed to see the Eiffel Tower - sort of...

We even managed to see the Eiffel Tower - sort of...

As the show wrapped up it's first day we headed back to the Gare du Nord with plenty of time to clear customs and purchase a bottle of champagne to enjoy on the train back as we knitted merrily away.

I wonder who will join us next year?

I wonder who will join us next year?

Wovember Wrap-up

I originally meant to post this as a WIP Wednesday, seeing as how it's really just a bunch of photos of what I've been working on lately. However, since it's also been Wovember this month, I've also made a conscious effort to knit exclusively using wool.

Wovember?? I hear you ask. Well, if you've not heard of Wovember, it's a new-ish movement (established in 2011 by designer Kate Davies and friends Felicity Ford and Tom van Deijnen), cleverly twisting the name of that other well-known November cause - Movember - and exists as a celebration of all things woolly. It's a great idea to have a whole month dedicated to the celebration and the grassroots nature of the campaign lends an authenticity to the discussion by encouraging craftspeople to share their own stories and experiences with wool:

Wovember is about showing our collective appreciation of wool by wearing as much of this fabulous fibre as possible, and by celebrating its unique qualities in stories and pictures throughout the month of November. Through our enthusiasm and creativity we can raise awareness of what makes wool different, and jointly create a force for wool appreciation strong enough to effect changes in how garments and textiles are described and marketed. - Wovember web site.

It was a long queue for the Eiffel Tower so I kept busy with my knitting!

It was a long queue for the Eiffel Tower so I kept busy with my knitting!

Wovember for me began while I was in Paris with my DH. Even though I'd chosen a French pattern to celebrate being there, my yarn choice was a yummy British Falklands fingering weight yarn.

Not much progress, I'm afraid. But I'm loving all the shades of grey in this hand-painted yarn!

Not much progress, I'm afraid. But I'm loving all the shades of grey in this hand-painted yarn!

Sadly, the train on the way there and in queues for various attractions was the only time my knitting saw any progress as when we got back I moved back into wrapping up a few Christmas presents and other things.

Possibly the most awkward knitted thing to photograph while on the needles, ever!

Possibly the most awkward knitted thing to photograph while on the needles, ever!

Speaking of other things, this WIP baby blanket has been the other project mostly keeping me occupied this month. A hardy Cascade 220 Superwash is what has been used. I'll post more details as soon as it's done and I can get some proper pics taken. It's just too unwieldy while still on the needles!

A bag full of yarn, fresh with possibilities!

A bag full of yarn, fresh with possibilities!

And to wrap up the celebration of all things woolly this month - my package from The Shepherd and The Shearer arrived this week! Funny how this blog post has now come full circle - Kate Davies is actually one of the designers on this project. She has a great archive of blog posts about the project, if you're interested. The wool smells wonderful and sheep-y, but sadly this project will have to wait until the new year for me to get started on it.

What woolly things did you knit on this month?