Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for November, 2014

Winter Summed Up

Saturday, November 29th, 2014

winter sky and fennel Nov 2014

Fennel against the winter sky today.  I like leaving the dead flower heads on fennel and sea holly.  Very structural and the birds love it too.

Today, I had an exciting planning meeting.  About knitting.  2015 will be good.

In the meantime, we have to get through winter.  I hate the cold, and the wet.  But I love the ideal of winter and its festivals and celebrations.  This image is the ideal.  In my planning meeting, it struck me (for the eleventy-fourth time) that as someone who loves sunshine and hot weather, it’s odd that I almost always design in the chilly, cool, wintry colour spectrum and draw most of my inspiration from bleak, spare, cold images.


Conversations with Lily #7

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Driving lessons have begun.

Lily:  OMG I am so awesome, I drove to Taunton today and no-one died

Me:  result

Lily:  well, thanks for that enthusiastic reception. I drove to Taunton and it was raining and I did the Wicks roundabout – twice

Me: I’m proud.  Especially as your first few lessons triggered migraines, panic attacks and tears – and that was just your instructor – LOLLLL!

Lily:  don’t say LOLLLL Mum

Me:  why not?

Lily:  it’s lame, don’t do it


Lily:  my teacher says I need more practice in our car

Me:  OK, I can do that

Lily:  I was going to ask Dad – and Florence

Me:  but I can also take you driving, right?  I took Florence

Lily:  once.  You took her once, to Pets at Home car park and then made her get out of the driving seat so you could drive home.  She drove, like, 200 meters…

Me (successfully resisting urge to say ‘like 200 meters, as in similar to 200, for example, 201 meters…?):  that’s only part of the story.  There were ‘hot rods’ in the car park – it wasn’t safe

Lily:  whatever, I want to do the driving with Dad.  Or Florence

Me:  not with me?

Lily:  no

Me:  why not?

Lily: you will scream. Then I will possibly crash

Me:  I won’t scream

Lily:  you always scream at stuff

Me:  that’s simply not true

Lily:  you screamed once when Dad was reversing the car and made him crash into a skip.  On our drive

Me:  I didn’t make him crash, I screamed because he was going to crash – and he did

Lily:  also, who says ‘hot rod’?? Geez, Mum

Me:  I will take you driving round the villages.  And Bridgwater

Lily:  no Mum, I know you will really freak out.  You scream when someone walks into your office, you scream on the childrens’ rides at the fair, you scream if you see a wasp, and mainly, you scream in cars

Me:  not when I’m driving

Lily:  which proves my point.  The whole point is that I get to drive.  It’ll put me off. You’re a screamer

Me:  I have never screamed at a workshop – or come to that, in any work situation –  except once when a wasp got into the shop where I was teaching

Lily:  well done, Mum, for not screaming at your knitters

Me:  thanks

Me:  can I sit in the back? I could knit

Lily:  no.  It’s not happening

Me:  it’s my car.  It’s not Dad’s car or Florence’s car

Lily:  oh I see! It’s your car now, is it?  It wasn’t *your* car when Dad brought it home, was it?  You didn’t want it then, did you?

Me:  well, I was annoyed that he just bought a car, which I was paying for, and it was ORANGE. But I’ve got used to it now and it’s faded a bit…

Lily:  you can watch me drive off.  With Dad.  Or Florence

Me:  I’m actually quite hurt

Lily (sighing):

Me:  so…this means you will never be able to drive me, even if you pass?

Lily:  if?  If?  IF?

Me:  well, your chances are better with me than with Dad.  I passed first time, he passed second time!

Lily:  God, Mum.  That was centuries ago!  It’s all different now

Me:  in what way?  Are the roads paved with gold?  Do the cars have more or fewer wheels…?

Lily (interrupting, and also leaving my office):  nice use of ‘fewer’, Mum, well done…







Mad Knitting Skills: half-day teaching at Court Cottage

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

I know you all have mad skills, but sometimes, it’d be nice to have some really focused tuition, maybe not all day, as this can be too much, but just for a few hours.  Time spent at an all-day workshop here, will deliver, I hope, as much learning as is appropriate and some of the days are very intense, notably the Design Weekend, and Moebius courses, for example.  But in a full day, there is also a lot happening, it’s happy and noisy. In short, those days are a much more rounded experience.

So I have decided to offer a short series of focused half-day sessions, beginning this spring.  There are three dates so far.  First is a focus on short row shaping, on Thursday 12 February 2015.  Then there is an in-depth session on cables and bobbles, which is on 5 March 2015.  Finally, so far, a half-day on casting on, when we will look at five methods, three of which will be covered very easily and quickly, leaving us at least two hours to look at two other very specific cast-ons.  This is on 30 April 2015, and you can book that here.

These are all taking place on Thursdays. They will start at 1.30 with a cup of tea, then it’s pretty much full-on teaching and practice, until afternoon tea.  It will close at 4.30.  I will be teaching, and I am only accepting five participants to each session, so there will be a lot of one-to-one opportunity.  They cost £30.

If these go well, I will add a series of three more in the autumn.

New Date for a Court Cottage Halloween Workshop 2015

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Halloween 2014 bloody letter box

I had one full event for Halloween 2015, and a waiting list so I have added a new date, which is now available to book and has 3 places still going.  It is on 24 October 2015, and will be repeat of the date one week earlier.  You can book it here.

So, that was Christmas…

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

It was a lovely day, our Christmas Workshop.  We held it yesterday.  It’s now 10 weeks until the next Court Cottage event, and it’s been such a busy teaching period, it feels somehow wrong to have such a long gap.  But that said, we will have the ‘real’ Christmas very soon, and New Year…and then it’s back to normal.

I have taught more this year – and I still have 2 workshops to deliver, but not at home – than since I stopped being a Rowan Design Consultant.  After that, it took me quite a long time to regain my knitting teaching spirit. I was asked to teach a few local-ish gigs, which I did, and then I started the Court Cottage events programme.  In my first year, I only taught about 4 events here, I think.  It absolutely amazes me that I now teach so much here – and I am very grateful for it, and to the lovely retailers who also book me.

Anyway, yesterday was Christmas here and we knitted stars, here are just a few:

And of course, a seasonal cake was produced:

I have 2 Christmas Workshops next year, and I have just had a cancellation for the one on 14 November, so if you fancy a day of festive knitting here next year, you could book that now.

Workshops in 2014 & 2015

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Fancy knitting some Christmas trinkets with me this month?  I am teaching ‘Mini Stockings and Festive Bunting’ and two venues in Devon and Cornwall this November.  I have no idea if they are fully booked or not, but anyway, here are the dates:

  • Spin-a-Yarn, Bovey Tracey, Devon, Festive Bunting & Mini Stockings, 20 November 10 – 4
  • Coastal Yarns, Bude, Cornwall, Festive Bunting & Mini Stockings, 27 November, 10.30 – 4.30

Note that they are the same as each other, but NOT the same Christmas workshop which I am teaching here next week.  At the mini stocking days, aside from absorbing an enormous amount of festive cheer, you will learn to (or perfect your skills) cast on and knit socks from the toe up on 2 short circular needles – easy.  Contact the shops for details on places, and to book.

In 2015, so far at Spin-a-Yarn, I am also teaching the following:

  • 19 February:  Moebius – Moving On (the follow-on workshop to Learn to Knit the Magical Moebius)
  • 19 March: Learn the Magical Moebius
  • 28 May:  Frilly, Sparkly, Twirly…(a spiral, beaded, frilled scarf AKA Frill Seeker)
  • 25 June:  Colour-wash Beaded Fairisle in the Round

Contact the shop for details on places and to book.

Retailers:  if you want to book any of my many teaching events for 2015, please contact me for a full menu of choices, and note that I have several new events, including the Frilly, Sparkly, Twirly Scarf (now known as the FSTS); More Moebiuses (if you have had me teach the intro day); new mittens; a new beaded stole; and a new Christmas workshop for 2015:  Seeing Stars, which is being premiered here next week!  I am very happy to teach up to 12 external events a year, and I usually teach in the South West quite close to Somerset, but can be lured as far as Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and even The Midlands.  I now have space for 6 more external teaching dates in 2015.