How have you been? I hope you all had a lovely and relaxing break and I am sending every best wish for 2016 your way.
Christmas here was a quiet affair, just the three of us (and Max of course!). It rained almost continually the whole time, which meant that we couldn’t spend much time outside as everywhere was totally water logged. Reading, knitting for pleasure and watching movies was how we spent our time…Bliss!
I knitted this jumper for ‘my girl’ in just 3 days – So soft and cosy!
We spent a week in Germany, celebrating New Year with family. What fun and so lovely to see everyone,we even had snow which was a big bonus and enjoyed by us all.
Today it’s back to work! I am actually looking forward to being back in my studio as lots of new ideas have been swirling around my head during the holidays. There are two new design releases over the coming weeks as well as my first published book, all co-productions with my friend Claudia of Wollsinn.
As you can see, a lot to look forward to and very exciting!
Day three, and my sun dance must have worked as the sun was out again when we woke. First stop today was the Woollen Mill at Trefriw.
At Trefriw Woollen Mills traditional Welsh tapestry bedspreads, tweeds and travelling rugs are being made using traditional Welsh patterns that have been around for hundreds of years. Trefriw Woollen Mills is one of the few remaining mills of what was once an important Welsh industry. Originally a Pandy (fulling mill) where hand spun and woven cloth was brought to be washed before the Industrial Revolution, it was situated on the fast running River Crafnant in order to use the water to drive the waterwheels and to wash the wool. We enjoyed our guided tour being shown around by Elaine who explained the mill and all the machinery to us, and we were all impressed with the skills used by the staff operating these traditional spinning and weaving instruments. The Mill is still owned and operated by the same family that originally bought it in 1859 after it had been in operation for 30 years.
After a little lunch and retail therapy on we went to Conwy. There we found knights, boats, the smallest house in Britain and an imposing castle guarding the town.
Our knowledgeable guide Neil and his German speaking nephew gave us a brief but comprehensive history lesson of the castle. Conwy Castle is a medieval fortification on the north coast of Wales and was built by Edward I during his conquest of Wales between 1283 and 1289. Constructed as part of a wider project to create the walled town of Conwy it played an important part in several wars, withstanding the siege of Madog ap Llywelyn in the winter of 1294–95, acted as a temporary haven for Richard II in 1399 and was held for several months by forces loyal to Owain Glyndŵr in 1401.
Before the English built the town of Conwy, the site was occupied by a Cistercian monastery favoured by the Welsh princes.The location also controlled an important crossing point over the River Conwy between the coastal and inland areas of North Wales. The kings of England and the Welsh princes had fought for control of the region since the 1070s and the conflict had resumed during the 13th century, leading to Edward I intervening in North Wales for the second time during his reign in 1282. The building of the castle was controlled by Sir John Bonvillars and overseen by master mason James of St. George, and the first phase of work between 1283 and 1284 focused on creating the exterior curtain walls and towers. In the second phase, from 1284 and 1286, the interior buildings were erected, while work began on the walls for the neighbouring town.By 1287, the castle was complete. The castle housed the constable who, by a royal charter of 1284, was also the mayor of the new town of Conwy, and oversaw a castle garrison of 30 soldiers, including 15 crossbowmen, supported by a carpenter, chaplain, blacksmith, engineer and a stonemason.
Today the Castle is still one of the most imposing buildings in North Wales and UNESCO considers Conwy Castle one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe”.
photo from cadw website
The drive home took us through beautiful Welsh countryside and we arrived back at the Hotel to a delicious meal followed by the arrival of my knitting group for some German/British knitting fun. A wonderful day was concluded by an evening of chatter and a lot of laughter. Knitting and crafts bond us all together and we are already looking forward to our visit to Germany in June.
Day four awaits, I better get a move on!
PS: To see and read more about our fabulous week visit Claudia’s blog here.
After sleeping like babies everyone was ready to embrace a new day, and what a fabulous day we woke up to! We were greeted with bird song, blue skies and bucket loads of sunshine.
After a hearty breakfast with, what seemed like gallons of coffee, everyone set to work almost immediately eager to finish colour swatching to begin the actual project. Another mornings hard work gave us a feast for our eyes, just look at all those amazing colour combinations! I think you will agree that they are all pretty spectacular…n’est-ce pas?!?
Other hotel guests were looking on in total awe as ‘the girls’ nimble fingers worked their magic with needles and yarn, and were most puzzled by our language as they couldn’t make out if we were German or in fact Welsh…quite funny at times!
Lunch was soon upon us and then Sian arrived with boxes full of books. Books about Llangollen, the general area, Wales, stories about sheep, paintings, song and poetry, and…surprise…books about knitting!! Isn’t it fantastic when the book shop comes to you? No surprises then when I tell you a good number of purchases were made.
Free time afternoon meant that Claudia and I bid everyone farewell and taking the scenic drive home took in some blustery fresh air with some breathtaking scenery saying hello to some of those lovely creatures that provide us with a never ending supply of woolliness!
I might do another sun dance tonight just in case!
Day One of our Knitting Retreat arrived and Wales started to show itself best foot forward with almost sunshine! Claudia and I, up early, set off for the airport to meet our ten eager ladies and after a short bus ride everyone soon settled into their new surroundings of the Chainbridge Hotel in Llangollen.
We started the afternoon with fresh scones, Welsh cakes and tea/coffee which was swiftly followed by Claudia and my talk about stranded knitting. We covered techniques, traditional and modern implementations and stories on various motifs and their meanings. Claudia covered the use of hand painted yarns in stranded knitting, and I talked about the process of designing your own fair isle piece.
We showed Moodboard, colour samples and various garments and accessories to demonstrate how different styles and patterns look and work in reality, and then we finally showed them the project for the week.
The option is to knit this design and make it into a bag, cushion or cowl which was greeted with a lot of oohh’s and aahh’s so we think it’s fair to say that everyone was happy.
The remainder of the day was spent knitting small samples to see how various colours and shades work together. This was followed by a most delicious dinner, a lot of laughter and a few beverages, and then finally falling into bed after a fabulously colourful and joyful day.
Refreshed we will approach day two…hopefully the sun will really shine today!