My grandad

To commemorate the centenary of the start of WWI and to remember the 96th anniversary of the end of the war, I thought I would tell you about my grandfather, Ellis Greenhalgh. 

Grandad was like many others, an ordinary man who did his duty and fought in WWI, but to myself and my family he was a hero. Unfortunately I never really knew him as he died when I was a little girl and I only have a few fond memories of him. 

Ellis joined the 9th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment when war broke out in 1914. A year later he managed to get 72 hours leave to marry my grandmother, Hannah on the 15th May 1915.

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Grandad and grandma on their engagement

Ellis served as an acting Quartermaster Sergeant in the 25th Division. He wrote many postcards and letters to my grandmother during the war but never described the horrors of what he must have experienced. In March 1918, his division was wiped out but he was lucky and escaped with only a light wound. In April it was wiped out again at Armentiers but was re-formed again. In May it was wiped out again at the Battle of the Marne but this time Ellis was shot through the jaw. After that the division was disbanded and Ellis and a few other survivors were transferred to the 1st Fifth Loyals. My grandad was demobbed in 1919 and went back to his job as a spinner at one of the many cotton mills in Bolton, he retired when he was 70!

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I can’t begin to imagine what he witnessed during the war and he never spoke of what he saw. He was a very brave man, one amongst the many who I thank for the freedom and relative safety we all now enjoy in our everyday lives.

Thank you Grandad, God bless and we’ll never forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My new beaded design in Vogue Knitting

Today I was sent the images for my lovely beaded sweater design featured in the new issue of Vogue Knitting – Holiday 2014. I’m rather pleased with this design and how it has turned out as I actually never saw it when it was finished! I was in Tuscany at the time holding a workshop week at the beautiful Watermill in Posara (you can read about this in my earlier blog post about the trip), so my knitter (the wonderful Karen Evans) had to send it direct to Vogue Knitting for me. As you can see she did a super job.

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Beaded scoop neck tee – not my description!

The design is knitted using Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Anchor Artiste Metallic. The beads (from Debbie Abrahams Beads) are used in the chest panel on the front and back. 

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The main stitch used in the design is a simple chevron stripe using 3 colours – Wicked 599 and Steel 664 in Kidsilk Haze and Silver 301 in the Anchor Artiste Metallic.

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I’m afraid I’m not sure where you can buy Vogue Knitting in the UK but hopefully we will see it on the shelves in the main magazine shops soon.

Christmas ideas workshop

I’ve just made my ‘Christmas Ideas’ workshop on Saturday 29th November available to book online via my website, so I thought I would show you more images of the projects…hope you like them!

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Christmas Hot Water Bottle Cover

The main project is this Scandinavian inspired fairisle hot water bottle cover. The aim of the workshop is to learn or improve your skills in fairisle knitting. I will be teaching the normal fairisle method, holding both colours in the right hand (or left, for those of you that are left handed) and the two handed method, where you hold the main colour in one hand and the pattern colour in the other. The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed in Clay and Peony.

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The drawstring is actually a length of double crochet, decorated with a simple crochet flower motif. If you prefer you could knit i-cord for the drawstring and add pom poms instead of the crochet motif as decoration.

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With the yarn left over from the hot water bottle cover, you can make these great fingerless mittens…..

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Christmas Mittens

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I love the little ladies!

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And with the yarn left over from these, you can make this fab Christmas bauble….

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Christmas Bauble

The bauble has a crochet snowflake motif as decoration and a crochet loop for hanging.

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Hope to see some of you at the workshop,  if you wish to book a place then please go to my website.

 

 

Wool Interiors exhibition review

Last Tuesday and Wednesday I was lucky to be invited to spend some time at the Wool Interiors exhibition at Southwark Cathedral. This fabulous exhibition was a celebration of wool to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the start of the Campaign for Wool.

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A ‘sheepy’ welcome to the exhibition

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The walk down to the exhibition

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A view of Southwark Cathedral

The exhibition was the showcase for some 50 beautiful wool items for interiors and lifestyle, bringing together products from the textile industry and retail brands. The collection ranged from fabrics, furnishings, flooring and art from the High Street, Designer, Bespoke and Commercial sectors including my Sage Throw! The Wool Collection also hosted a small and exciting Wool Fringe featuring art, innovation and student led work that showed the endless versatility and potential of wool. This part of the exhibition featured two designs from two of my students from Nottingham Trent University who completed my 3D knitting project I did with them in February and March this year….another post will follow shortly showing you the results of this exciting project.

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My ‘Sage Throw’ – pattern is available on my website. In the background are some fun ‘Seating Balls’ by Mary Goodman

Here are some of my favourite pieces on show…

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Ptolemy Mann’s ‘Gelim’ rug and sofa in collaboration with Rug Maker

Naomi Paul lampshades

Naomi Paul crochet lampshades

Folklore fabric kit kemp for Christopher Farr cloth

Kit Kemp’s ‘Folkloric’ fabric for Christopher Farr

Heals Orwell Wing chair

‘Orwell Wing Chair’ by Heals

Anthropolie rose de borman zoology oval rug

Rose de Borman ‘Zoology Oval Rug’ for Anthropologie – I love this!

christopher farr el ultimo grito rug

The wonderful ‘El Ultimo Grito’ Rug by Christopher Farr

asira vase by aurelie tu at ligne roset

The felted ‘Asira Vase’ by Aurelie tu et Ligne Roset

Margo Selby Fairisle Runner

Margo Selby’s amazing ‘Fairisle Runner’ – I want this as well!

pentreath & hall fine cell work cushions

‘Tumbling Blocks’ woven cushion by Pentreath & Hall

Solva Mill Waffle cushion

‘Waffle Cushion’ by Solva Mill

the rug company alexander mcqueen poppy night aubosson wallpaper

The amazing ‘Poppy Night Wallhanging’ by Alexander McQueen in collaboration with The Rug Company

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‘This Way That Way Beanbag’ by SCP

Wallace Sewell LU150 fabric

‘LC150′ fabric by Wallace Sewell, designed to celebrate 150 years of the London Underground

Maud designs tuft limited edition floor cushions

Floor cushion by Maud Designs

The Wool Fringe part of the exhibition showcased the following fabulous work…

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Caty Palmer’s wall hanging

Wall hanging by Caty Palmer

A close up of Caty’s wonderful design

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Kendall Baker’s stool and Justine Thornton’s cushion from Nottingham Trent University

 Some fun items…

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‘Milly the Sheep’ knit kit by MillaMia

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‘Sheep’ stool by The Wool Room – I love his eyes!

If you had chance to visit this fantastic exhibition then I really do hope you enjoyed it and that it has inspired you to include items of wool in your own home!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free workshop – Christmas Mittens

I’ve just finished the project for the free workshop I’m holding at the Wool Interiors exhibition at Southwark Cathedral tomorrow at 10am. If you’re in London, come along and learn how to knit fairisle or if you’re a more experienced knitter, learn how to knit two stranded fairisle. To book a place email: MeetTheMaker@campaignforwool.org. The mittens are knitted in my favourite Rowan yarn – Felted Tweed and all the yarn and needles will be provided…..hope to see you there.

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Christmas Mittens finished!

 

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If this workshop is full then I’m also holding a free fun workshop on 3D knitting on Wednesday at 10am also at the exhibition. Using Rowan Cocoon, have a go at folded fabric and knots and twists! Again, all Rowan yarn and needles are provided. Both workshops finish around 12.30 – 1pm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sage Throw on exhibition.

As mentioned in my last post, I was very flattered to be invited by the Campaign for Wool to design and make a hand knitted throw inspired by ‘Sage’ from my Windswept book. The finished design will be exhibited at the Wool Interiors exhibition at Southwark Cathedral from 5th Oct to 12th Oct.  The pattern is now available to download from the pattern section of my website and shortly I will be offering this throw as made to order via my website…so if you don’t feel like knitting it yourself, we can make it for you!

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Sage from Windswept

The throw has turned out even better than I thought and I’m so grateful to one of my wonderful knitters, Gwynneth Allen, for knitting it so quickly and so well.

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The finished throw

The fairisle design is the same as the Sage tunic except for the snowflake section. I had to change this slightly so that the whole design can be knitted by repeating one pattern.

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Pattern detail

The borders are the same striped design as on the original tunic. The bottom welt is worked at the start and the top welt at the end. The two sides borders can be worked either by picking up stitches along the side edges or knitted separately and stitched neatly in place with mattress stitch.

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Close up of the border

Here are some more images of this lovely throw. I hope you like it as much as I do! 

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The throw is large enough to cover a double bed!

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I’ll be posting about the exhibition next week. If you are in London please come along and see the show as I’m sure it will be well worth while going. I’m actually doing two workshops in the mornings of Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th Oct, one on fairisle knitting and the other on 3D Knitting…maybe I’ll see you there.

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Sheep cushions!

Ever fancied having a couple of knitted sheep cushions gracing your sofa? Well now you can, the Campaign for Wool is offering free patterns for two sheep cushions (both designed by myself), one with a head of a Herdwick Sheep and the other with a head of a Bluefaced Leicester Sheep! 

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Herdwick Sheep cushion

After the success of the PicKnit Blanket last year, the Campaign for Wool commissioned me to design and knit a cushion to celebrate Wool Week 2014. I firstly designed the Herdwick Sheep cushion back in May (just before my heart attack!) They loved it and asked me to design a second to go with it….hence the Bluefaced Leicester version.

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Bluefaced Leicester Sheep cushion

Both cushions are knitted using Rowan Fine Tweed and are quite detailed as you can see, but actually surprisingly simple to knit using the intarsia technique! My main tips would be to use long lengths of yarn (instead of winding yarn onto bobbins) so that you can easily untangle yarn by just pulling the colour you want to knit through the other threads. Secondly I would either enlarge the chart of each pattern and print it out in sections or do as my knitter, Karen Evans, did and work from her iPad and enlarged it on there.

I’m a huge supporter of the Campaign for Wool and British Wool in particular, sadly Rowan Fine Tweed is not made using British wool but it’s spun in Yorkshire, so the next best thing! There are lots of events happening during Wool Week (6th – 12th October), check out the Campaign’s website to see if there is an event near you. I’m really excited this year as I was asked to design and make a piece for the Wool Interiors Exhibition at Southwark Cathedral (5th – 12th Oct). I’ll be writing about the design in the next few days…and I’m sure you will love it!

In the mean time I hope you enjoy the sheep cushions and remember that the free patterns can be downloaded from the Campaign for Wool PicKnit website and please do enjoy Wool Week!

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Close up of the Herdwick cushion

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Close up of the Bluefaced Leicester cushion

 

 

 

Crochet Cowl workshop

I’m holding a crochet workshop on Saturday 22nd November at the village hall in Hoby (my home village). The project is this beautiful crochet cowl……

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It’s made using 7 autumnal Rowan Felted Tweed colours and comprises of just two quite basic motifs. One motif is 4 colour worked in 8 different colour combinations, the second motif is a diamond shape in one colour. The motifs are simple in themselves, only using the basic crochet stitches – chain, double crochet and trebles. Once all the motifs have been worked they are then joined together using free-form crochet.

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Two motifs of each of the 8 multi coloured motifs are worked, making a total of 16 motifs and then just 8 of the single colour diamond motif. The motifs are then joined using the contrast colour.

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For more information about the workshop and to book a place then please visit my website.  Here are some more images of the cowl being worn …guess who is the model!

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Sorry it’s been a while!

Firstly, I want to apologise for the lack of blog posts and Facebook entries over the last couple of months. I’ve been busy finishing my seasonal work with Rowan and I was 50 at the end of August and so I’ve been on holiday!

 Secondly, I want to thank you for your concern over my health, all your lovely comments and your best wishes. I can now report that I’ve been ‘signed off’ from the hospital having had my follow up appointments and all my cardiac rehab sessions. Everyone seems to be very pleased with my progress. I honestly feel so much better than I did and it’s only now that I can say how rubbish I felt after I first came out of hospital!

 We went to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales for my birthday and spent a week walking through some glorious countryside. I wanted to spend my birthday on my favourite walk – Keld to Muker in Swaledale via the summit of Kidson Hill. The view from the top across Swaledale is simply fantastic. Despite the howling gale that was blowing, we managed it and had a wee sip of champagne to celebrate! I was pleased with myself as I managed to do all the walks we had planned, all be it, a bit slower than normal! One of the main drawbacks of suffering a heart attack and being on all these drugs is that my muscles feel quite weak at times and I find that I just don’t have the energy I once had. However, I suppose it’s a small price to pay and I must admit that I’ve been lucky to come off this well!

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The view down Swaledale from Kisdon Hill

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The beautiful landscape around Keld in Swaledale

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Descending into Muker from Kisdon Hill

The recent health scare has meant that I’ve had the time to think and put a lot of my life in perspective. Consequently I’m now doing a lot less for Rowan, I’m no longer responsible for the Rowan magazine and now just contribute with designs, art directing a few shoots and a bit of writing. This now means that I can concentrate on developing my business, which I’m really excited about! So hopefully over the coming weeks and months you will be seeing more blog posts, more Facebooking and Twittering from me! As always I appreciate all your comments and I hope that you enjoy what you see and what you read.

Here is a pic of Norah and Nelly, which my lovely friend Moy Williams took at my house on Tuesday. We where photographing some student designs from Nottingham Trent University for this year’s Wool Week, (it’s for a look book on the Rowan website).

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My lovely girls! Nelly at the front, Norah at the back.

A week long workshop at The Watermill at Posara, Tuscany

Last week I arrived in Pisa, Italy to hold a week long hand knit workshop at a beautiful watermill set deep into the Tuscan mountains. I was invited to run a workshop at ‘The Watermill at Posara’ earlier in the year, in fact, my first one should have been in May but because of my heart attack I had to cancel it. Having not done anything like this before, I really didn’t know what to expect but I needn’t have worried as I was delighted to find that I thoroughly enjoyed the whole week. The ladies booked on the workshop were simply lovely, Bill and Lois (the hosts and owners of the mill) were great and the food, scenery and of course the knitting, all fabulous! Even my husband, Mark, who came along to ensure that I didn’t do too much, enjoyed the experience. In fact he was a huge hit with the group and helped create a fun and vibrant atmosphere. Here is a detailed breakdown of my very pleasant week, hope you enjoy reading about it…

Mark and I arrived in Pisa in the early evening of Friday 18th July. It was very warm and humid as we made our way by taxi to the Royal Victoria Hotel on the banks of the River Arno. This hotel, largely unchanged since the 1950’s had an air of faded grandeur and better times long gone. The staff were very welcoming and friendly though and our room very grand (in a 50’s way), clean and comfortable. All in all we enjoyed our one night’s stay. Within the hour we were out and about exploring Pisa, an Italian city I’ve never visited before. In the past I’d only experienced the inside of Pisa airport and the train station on my way to Florence on various work trips. This small and compact city is typically Italian and owes it’s fame to (you guessed it!) the leaning tower.

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As we approached, the tower seemed to be leaning at an impossible angle but as we walked around it, it straightened up!

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After enjoying the sights, we then found the lovely small restaurant called Osteria La Mescita that the hotel receptionist kindly recommended, and what a find it was! The restaurant served traditional Tuscan food which was simple and delicious. Around 10pm we ventured out into the Pisa nightlife and the city was alive with the hustle and bustle of Italian promenading. It was great to see lots of people, young and old, enjoying the balmy night in a friendly and happy way. We stood for a while on one of the many bridges crossing the Arno and watched with surprise, coypus (or river rats)! At first we thought they were otters, but we have since learnt that they were in fact coypus, which are now common along the shores of the Arno.

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After a simple breakfast the next morning we left the Royal Victoria Hotel to go to the airport to meet up with the transport that was going to take us to the watermill. Here we met four of the ladies, Gail from New York, Sue from California, Cathy from Dubai and Annie from Torquay! They all seemed very pleased to meet me (which I always find surprising!) and then we headed off in a mini bus to the Tuscan hills. After a drive of about a hour and ten minutes we arrived at The Watermill to be met by a very smiley Lois, I liked her immediately and very quickly Mark was helping to carry the ladies bags to their rooms. Gail was going onto a wedding in Sweden after the week so her bag was very heavy, poor Mark!

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View of The Watermill from the garden

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A view from the courtyard

Mark and I then found our room and unpacked. We then sat in the courtyard enjoying the sunshine and waited for the other ladies to arrive. There were 11 ladies in total and the course was fully booked. Later that day we met Jeanice and her daughter Maggie from Indiana, Jami from Kentucky, Tabby from California, Alison from Leeds, Kay from Nottingham and Margaret from Uppermill, Saddleworth. The mill has 11 bedrooms in total, some with ensuite bathrooms and some sharing a bathroom with another room. All the ladies were thrilled with their rooms and it wasn’t long before we were all getting to know each other over a glass (or two) of the house speciality cocktail! That evening we had dinner at the local restaurant in the town of Fivizzano, this lovely small medieval walled town is only a mile and half away so myself, Mark and Margaret decided to walk there and back. Walking is such a great way of seeing the local area and the views were tremendous. It was uphill most of the way but at least we knew it would be an easier walk coming back. After a fabulous Tuscan meal of local pasta dishes, cheeses, meats and salads, we headed our way back to the mill. The walk back was quite magical, there were hundreds of fire flies glowing with little dots of dancing lights illuminating our way back, it really was beautiful!

Sunday was the first workshop day, the whole day was at the mill. After a leisurely breakfast we started project one, a Mosaic Cushion knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed Aran. Firstly, I talked through the two projects for the week and then explained the technique of mosaic knitting. This is a simple way of adding colour into knitting without having to strand the colours as only one colour is worked at a time. The hardest thing is to learn that the chart refers to knit and slip stitches and not necessarily the colour!

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Project One – Mosaic Cushion

I’m actually holding this workshop again in my home village on the 11th October. If you wish to come along then book very soon as there are only 4 places left, to book go to my website. The ladies really enjoyed this project and hadn’t done anything like it before. A few of them struggled a little but when they understood that the chart shows the different stitches and not necessarily the colours, they progressed really well. In fact Jami, Alison and Jeanice finished theirs, with Jami adding a border to hers to make a larger cushion front, it looked fab!

We carried on with the project on Monday, unfortunately the weather was not good, a bit cold and rainy and it was a shame we couldn’t knit outside in the garden. But we started off inside and then Bill took us all to a local convent called the Convento die Carmine to have lunch and have a look around. This fascinating building is privately owned by a family who have converted the upper floors into apartments. They have done a fantastic job of restoring the beautiful frescoes that line the ceilings and walls of the cloisters.

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The courtyard of the Convent

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The cloisters

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A beautiful fresco

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After a relaxed picnic lunch and after lots of chat we headed back to mill to finish off the afternoon knitting. A lovely local lady called Marella was the cook for dinner and it was fantastic.

Tuesday morning was market day at the local town of Fivizzano. Myself, Mark and Kay took a leisurely stroll up to the town. The market which is held in the main square each week is a small delight of local cheeses, meats and vegetable stalls as well as clothing, bric a brac and homeware. It was a good chance for Mark and I to have a good look round…

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The main square of Fivizzano – taken the day after the market!

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Another view

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The bell tower

 Other views of Fivizzano…IMG_2848

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 After a snack and a delicious ice cream at the gelataria, we all headed back to the mill for an afternoon of knitting. Mark and I walked back and below are some of the views encountered on the way back to the mill…

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The church bell tower of Posara can be seen in the distance

As the weather was lovely and warm we met up in the garden and I introduced everyone to project two. This project was about cabling. I had three different designs that could be worked on, each one used two balls of Rowan Cocoon. Everyone could choose which one they wanted to complete once they had they knitted a swatch of all three. Most of the ladies chose the cable wave and the bulky cable scarf whilst a few chose the garter stitch cowl…

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Cave Wave Scarf

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Bulky Cable Scarf

Garter Stitch Cable Cowl

Again, I’m holding this workshop again at home on September 27th. There are places still available so if you want to book then go to my website. The ladies really like this project as each scarf or cowl uses a different cabling technique not normally used.

Wednesday was my day off! The ladies had a choice to go to either the Cinque Terre (five traditional fishing villages which are now a world heritage site) or to the beautiful medieval city of Lucca. Mark and I could have gone but I thought I should be sensible and rest. We had a slow amble up to Fivizzano in the morning, enjoyed a coffee and I took some photographs and then we walked back to have lunch with Bill and Lois and their two lovely girls, Lydia and Lara. After lunch we walked around the gardens and grounds and then sat by the river, Mark reading and me crocheting! Here are some pictures of the beautiful surroundings of the mill…

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The old part of the mill

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The mill race

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The river in the grounds

 

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The bamboo forest

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Old mill stones

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A view from the garden

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Lois did the cooking the rest of the week and what a fab cook she is, she really spoiled us and I must email her to ask for various recipes! Everyone was really tired when they returned from their trip so Thursday was a day of relaxed knitting either in the garden, patio or indoors. Friday was our sadly our last day and we had a special morning planned. Bill took us further up into the mountains to a beautiful restaurant and small hotel in Monte die Bianchi. Here we sat in the grounds and on the veranda whiling away a few pleasant hours knitting and chatting. We were then served a magnificent lunch of local Tuscan cuisine… life does not get much better!

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A view from the restaurant

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The friendly donkey

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Knitting on the veranda

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 We then had Friday afternoon free to do as we wanted …..I just relaxed! We then all met up in the evening and enjoyed a wonderful last meal cooked by Marella. Later that evening there were some sad goodbyes and the promise to keep in touch, which hopefully we will.

I want to thank firstly, all the ladies that made my first workshop week special, Bill and Lois for their fabulous hospitality and to Mark for looking after me. I am holding two workshops at The Watermill in May and September next year, if you are interested in joining me then register your interest with The Watermill. I’ve not decided what the projects will be yet, but I’m thinking of something with fair isle and colour work! I’ll finish here with some images of the old mill workings which I found fascinating……….

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Ciao, arrivederci….
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