Friday, 5 March 2010

Spring Clacking

As spring approaches, croci and daffodils are appearing in our gardens down here in sunny S W France; les grues (that’s French for cranes) are flying in from cooler climes, whilst the knitting needles are still clickity-clacking. It's an inspiration how many people - well, women - are taking up knitting these days; even my daughter, previously uninterested and of the "let's just buy it" generation, is now desperate to learn to knit and crochet.

Why the sudden interest? Well, it's certainly no longer the cheap hobby that clothed the whole family for a fraction of the cost of bought items, that's for sure. But thanks to the fashion industry's recent conversion to all things hand-made - shrugs, collars, fingerless gloves, accessories and even jeweller, all with the appearance of a home-knit, but more likely made in China - many of the general public, both young and not-so-young have been inspired to get out their knitting and crochet needles sometimes for the first time.

If you live nowhere near a decent supplier, yarns are now so easily available to buy over the Internet it's hardly worth rallyin forth into the great outdoors; one of our favourite sites has to be Loop, based in London and moving premises soon to something a bit larger but in the same area of Upper Street in Islington. Their website is beautifully constructed, easy to use and the photos are guaranteed to get your knitting juices flowing. Meanwhile, at Rowan Knits, you'll find plenty of design books packed with designs for men, women and children (some knitted on size 20 needles which would definitely speed things up!) and much much more, though some are obviously directed towards the more proficient knitter. I recently discovered locally a gorgeous book by Hikaru Noguchi called "Elle Tricot " which is jam-packed with exquisite knitting and crochet designs, with beautiful illustration photos by Hiroki Mori.

Knitting, the UK's Knitting Institute's official magazine is another source of great ideas and tips, as well as a resource tool and they will collaborating with us at Claire’s workshop here in 2011. Another reason for knitting and crocheting's sudden popularity mgiht be the availability of exceptionally stylish but simple knitting patterns by the likes of Erica Knight, and Claire Montgomerie - what better reason is there to join a club, group or workshop to learn the basics or improve your technique.

Claire Montgomerie's workshop here last year concentrated on knitted and crochet jewellery. One of the participants, Nakita, who had travelled from Dubai to join us, and had never knitted a stitch in her life before, left with a beautiful and delicate necklace (a family heirloom?); and all participants went home after three days stitching and making new friends with home-made socks, little decorative balls, corkscrew scarves, and bags of goodies and good intentions. This May Claire is back here to teach the techniques of designing and structuring your own fashions as well as altering existing patterns - incredibly useful if you, like me, can never find a pattern that meets my exacting requirements.

Known to all keen English knitters and stichers living in France is La Droguerie. Our nearest branch is in Bordeaux (there are others dotted across France) and it is a veritable treasure trove of wools, buttons, ribbons, beads and so on. A wonderful tactile place that sadly doesn't as yet sell through their website. However, we are working on the logistics of how it might be possible to visit them during Claire's next workshop here. Certainly if you have never been on a knitting course, this is the one you should join; after all there aren't many places you can visit, knit at leisure with like minded friends, enjoy good food, wine and inspiring surroundings all at the same time?

1 comment:

  1. Katie - we MUST plan a trip to La Drogerie in Bordeaux while we are at Briancon!!!! Do you think it is possible?
    Think about it....

    Thanks for thinking of me on my birthday. Loved getting your sweet card!
    See you soon!!!!!