Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

2019 Workshops are now LIVE!

Monday, September 24th, 2018

2019 is now live on the site.  You can find them all here!

There are icord designs, Happy Endings, new felting, gifts and the return of Christmas at Court Cottage.

Each day explores new techniques and applies them to projects specially designed for you.

I would love to see you here!



The Last Day of Christmas

Monday, December 25th, 2017

Happy Christmas!  It is Christmas morning and the pattern elf has placed this little design in your stocking.

Smoke and Mirrors detail for needle case

It is the Smoke and Mirrors Felted Needle Case that is the companion to my Smoke and Mirrors bag pattern.  This uses 2 shades of Felted Tweed and some beads.  I think this is a perfect post-Christmas project and you might have some left-over yarn you can use.  Other yarns may be alright, but do test them first to make sure they will felt.  The temperature that you use may vary.

I hope you have enjoyed the 12 Days of Christmas pattern give-away.  I am going to leave this last one up as a free pattern into 2018.

Thank you for following my blog, coming to my events, buying my designs and generally being great.

Ali x


Christmas Workshops 2017: images

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Crocheted Heart Wreath with Lights, Mini Jumpers, ‘Frozen Hearts’ Picture Frames, Icicle

Heart Wreath 1

christmas 2017 icicle in bauble

christmas 2017 hearts 2

christmas 2017 montage

christmas 2017 3 jumpers



Knit Camp 2017 and 2018

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

I think this has been the longest I have ever gone between blogs.  That is mainly because Knit Camp 2017 happened last weekend and most of the 4 weeks prior to that was given over to the final preparations.  I have worked in many different roles all my life but I have never worked as hard as I did on Knit Camp.

When I decided to run it, which was a decision taken in October 2016, I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted to deliver.  Somehow, I think we did deliver that vision, very close to the concept and the plans – in fact in many ways, even better.  The concept seems simple:  a knitting event that is not a holiday or a retreat, but a fully focused teaching and learning event.  The emphasis being on high levels of technical content all pitched at a variety of levels from intermediate to advanced, and also a range of project sizes from small to large.  All these factors determine the degree of difficulty for the knitters, and they also scope the teaching requirements for the teachers.

At KC 2017, we specifically taught:

  • Beaded icord
  • Picking up and knitting along a beaded icord and using this as a base for a knit-in-the-round accessory
  • Two handed, no-swap Fairisle, in the round
  • Steeking
  • Picking up and knitting into  lace edge, a side edge, a top/bottom edge, and a steek-side
  • Shawl shaping, including short-row shaping on a lace knitted-on border

Plus anything that was needed one-to-one.

Because it was over 2 days, Knit Campers could also choose and start more than one of the collection.  I will add some images of the Bailbrook Collection here but if you want to have access to the Drop Box folder that I created for Knit Camp 2017, contact me, tell me you want to see the 2017 Knit Camp Drop Box album, and I will add you to the access list. Knit Campers have been able to look at this folder for some time now, but now it is over, I will widen the access.

I loved it.  Don’t get me wrong, I also hated it at times, and there were several times when I wished I had not started it, and swore I would never do it again.  The sheer volume of Knit Camp was (self-imposed but) daunting at times and I wanted to tick off every conceivable detail, to create an event that was unique, special and really enjoyable.

Teaching with Kathryn, and working with each other all year to perfect these designs, was a joy.  I would never have done it alone.  To teach this level of content to almost 30 knitters, and have the grades of project content, at the same time as organising and running a complex event was something I will admit I found challenging, but then there was nothing for it but to work and then work a lot more to deliver the event we imagined.  So much was pre-planned, that on the weekend, it all just fell into place.

Next year, Knit Camp will return, in late November 2018.  We will stay at Bailbrook House, in Bath, and the basic format will be the same.  But this will be Knit Camp 2018 – the Christmas Edit.  It will be coinciding with the start of the Bath German Christmas market and the gorgeous Georgian hotel will be starting to get dressed up for Christmas.  So Christmas at Court Cottage will, in 2018, move to Bath.  This means I can widen the design scope with some festive content.  It will be Christmassy – but not too much; just enough to get that pre-Christmas tingle started.

My 2017 Knit Campers have first refusal, but inevitably, they won’t all want, or be able to attend.  So in a week or so, I will be opening up Knit Camp 2018.  If you are on my email list, you will automatically get an alert.  But if you are not, or you are not sure, please contact me and I will add your email address.

If you join us, I can promise you a weekend of absolute indulgence, luxury accommodation, delicious food which was also not overwhelming, inclusive wine, full board with all catering needs included, the undivided attention of my little team, an amazing weekend of companionship and laughter with lovely like-minded knitters – and a packed knitting and teaching schedule with lots to learn and choose from.   Along the way throughout the year, Knit Campers get regular Bulletins with news and previews, a private Drop Box folder as the designs emerge and first refusal at future events.  It means we build up a community.  And that is exactly what it felt like.  If you want to join in, please let me know.  You can see a general overview for 2018 and some of the 2017 feedback here.

Knit Camp 2017 logo



Winter is Coming…

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Zig Zag scarf 4

Without wishing the summer away, I have completed the design and knitting (almost) for the Christmas Gifts events in September.  These are the days that kick off the autumn term – and I can’t wait to get back to the workshops!  Having the summer ‘off’ enables me to focus on some other designing, notably this year finishing off the last two designs for Knit Camp and the Christmas Gift events in early September.

The concept for this teach is to produce some fairly easy (but not boring), and economical accessories – so none use more than three balls of wool, and none will take an average knitter who also has a job or a busy life, more than a week of evening knitting to complete.  For example, Kathryn can knit the hat pattern in one night; I can do it in two-point-five nights.  Kathryn can knit a pair of the mittens in two evenings; I can knit a pair in four evenings.


Zig Zag hat mink close up

This year I have taken one stitch – a zig-zag rib that looks like a little cable, but is not – and used it in both flat and round knits.  There are hats – womans (beaded) and mans; a split scarf; and a pair of mitts with a beaded peplum detail. I am really happy with the finished items and I will definitely be making some myself as gifts this Christmas.

Zig Zag hats collection

I love this concept, because for one thing it frees up the Christmas at Court Cottage events and allows me to just focus on festive decorations.  Also, mid-late November is possibly too late for you to make a few hats, scarves or mitts.  But early September is plenty of time.

The courses are both full but I have three names on a waiting list so if you are interested, let me know – we may be able to set up an extra date.

Zig Zag hats male edge

Another knit that would make a great gift-knit is my Brioche in the round cowl, which I am teaching again in Devon at Spin-a-Yarn (fully booked but I am trying to fit in an extra date or two) and also on 4 November, at the Totnes  ‘Stitchfest’ – more details on this will follow soon. I can accept up to twelve bookings for the Totnes gig, so contact the organisers if you fancy a place.  This is the same event that I taught here, but slightly abbreviated.

In the meantime, here is the split scarf for the September events, which I love and it makes me feel all Judy Garland in ‘Meet Me in St Louis’.

Zig Zag scarf 3


Seasonal Musings

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

Some of my best and worst Christmases.


I am about eight.  My brother is five. We open our presents and it is the usual mix that was probably normal back then, in the dark ages.  A good many of the presents we were given were highly practical.  I remember getting a hold-all the year before I left home to go to university.  I was very pleased with it too.  We often got serviceable shoes, and hand-knitted cardigans, for example.  But this year, in among the gifts, I get a nightdress.  Not an M&S cotton nighty.  This was a swishy, chiffony nightdress, more like a real dress, with a layer of peach and a layer of cream chiffon, a modest gathered neck tied with a narrow peach ribbon, and sheer puffed sleeves, with elastic at the wrists and a flowing cuff.  Well, I wore it all day. I ate my Christmas lunch in it.  I wore it all Boxing Day.  What I never did was sleep in it.  It was too good for that – and also slightly annoying in bed, with the layers and so on.  So I slept in the cotton ones and folded the peachy one up on the chair. I have no idea why I was given such a prize but oh!  how I loved that nightdress and wore it until it was well above the knee and mother said I could not wear it anymore.  It wouldn’t bother me now! I’d probably teach in it…


I am a proper grown-up.  I know this because I am apparently and improbably in charge of two small children, Florence and Lily, who are nine and two years old respectively.  We all, including Mark, have ‘flu.  Not a bad cold, this is real ‘flu.  It had been a grim December anyway because my mother had been admitted to hospital in Manchester early in the month – in fact, on the day I started a new job – with a serious and complex condition.  She was still in hospital and we had made several long trips to Manchester from Somerset already – but now we were all too ill to go up so my father would not have us with him either.  On Christmas Eve, my friend’s boyfriend, who lives in London and has super-powers which caused him to be able to get hold of the one thing Florence most desired and which was unabtainable in Somerset – a Furby, is due to call in en-route to Cornwall.  Do you know what a Furby is or was?

Here is one:

✨ FURBY Original 1998 model 70-800 Tiger Electronics Used with tags GRAY/White

The originals are now highly sought after.  So anyway, by Christmas Eve we are a plague-house.  Somehow, we drag ourselves and the girls to the doctors and he gives us All The Drugs which we cash in moments before the pharmacy shuts for a festive two-week break.  We all have chest infections on top of the ‘flu and some of us have tonsillitis.  I think we probably ought to have gone to A&E but we didn’t. Late that evening, the Furby arrives. My friend’s boyfriend takes one look at me, as I open the door and  sway alarmingly towards him.  He steps just close enough to put the Furby on the step, and then backs away.  Wise.  I take the Furby in its box and hide it.  I suppose I paid him, I can’t remember and I would not have touched that money if I was him.

Furbys can talk, sort of.  They make weird high-pitched coo-ing and purring and chirruping noises, activated by movement. We are all too ill to do anything except lie down.  We make a camp in our bedroom, and the girls, who no longer know it is Christmas, sleep on mattresses on each side of our bed.  Here we spend a feverish night.  There are tears and fever-induced nightmares.  The girls were pretty upset too.  I think I may be dying and I don’t care.  By dawn on Christmas morning, the antibiotics which I double-dosed us all on, are beginning to kick in.  One of us breaks out of Camp Plague to make our first hot drinks for several days – we can swallow!  I think Florence knows it is Christmas Day but Lily has no idea and is in any case asleep properly for the first time in 48 hours and will sleep the clock round.  But we don’t ‘do’ Christmas today; we just lie down.  When it is light, the ‘phone rings.  This is in the hall.  Mark veers down the stairs to answer it, and he brings it up to me. My heart almost stops and I think my throat will close and choke me.  My mother has been moved overnight to another hospital in the city and as we endured our terrible night of illness, she had endured far worse – emergency surgery for an unexpected further complication.  She survived it, but she was in an ICU.  My father had been there all night.  We could not even get dressed, let alone help him, or her, in any way.  I sit on the edge of the bed, still holding the ‘phone after dad has rung off, and from below the stairs, in the depths of the cupboard where I had stowed it, the Furby somehow begins its errie, warbling repertoire of electronic cheeps and half-formed words.  The sound of that awful Christmas in the mid-1990s. I hate the Furby.


I am twelve.  In the house on The Pyghtle, Wellingborough, all the windows in the kitchen are steamy and running with condensation that must be part sprout-essence, they have been boiling for so long now.  My mother is making the Christmas lunch, and is still managing to look quite glamorous in a chic shift dress with a diamante choker-collar and kitten heels, despite also being rather flushed and having a slight issue with the perm – due I think to the sprout-sauna we have created.  She is simultaneously carving the capon (no turkey for us, capons were far superior, she believed, and so therefore, did we), drinking a giant schooner of ‘sherry’ (Emva Cream or Harvey’s Bristol Cream, her favourite), and smoking a cigarette.  The cigarette was perched on a green ashtray, just next to the capon, actually, the tip scarlet from her lipstick, the smoke adding to the brussel sprout fug.

We had my Grandmother staying with us as we often did, and for the first time in my life, I sensed that maybe having Grandma there was not, for my mother, the unalloyed joy that it was for me.   I adored my Grandma.  She was tiny and wry and I had spent a lot of my very young life with her.  But now, here was mum, under the influence of her second or possibly third schooner, quietly muttering about things.  I was a very greedy child and mainly I was focused on grabbing scraps of capon, but I knew that I was also privy to the first chink in the grown-up armor that my parents wore.  It didn’t make me think any less of Grandma, who had my unconditional devotion, or my mother who I thought was an amazing person.  But it did make me feel rather grown up. Mum shoves the schooner of sherry across the red Formica kitchen top towards me.  Leaning against the counter, hands greasy with capon, all the carving done, she lights another cigarette and says:  have a swig.  I do. It is delicious, if a bit hot-making.

There is so much to look forward to!  Capon for a start (I told you I was greedy), and dad was going to get out the projector and hang a sheet on the wall after lunch and show the holiday slides from Anglesey that summer, and Grandma shared my bedroom so at night when we went to bed, we could talk until she forbade it and the quiet Grandma snoring began.  I go into the garden to get some coal, always my job and I like doing it. From outside, as I shovel up coal and bash the big lumps into small pieces, I can see the sprouty-smokey air coming out of the top kitchen window as it evaporates into the cold outside.  Though I can’t see her clearly through the misted-up glass, I can see the outline of my mother as she moves to and fro inside the kitchen.  And I can hear her singing, with the radio.  She has a sweet, rather warbling and carrying voice.  I reckon the neighbours on both sides can probably hear it too.  I am completely happy.

Workshop Gift Vouchers Now Available

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

I only sell vouchers when I actually have workshops with spaces – and at the moment there is very good availability for 2017, so the workshop vouchers are back!

You can buy vouchers here. It is important that when you do this, you choose an event and tell me about it, so I can immediately reserve that place for your friend.  I will take it from there – the link explains it all.

It does make a lovely gift and I hope you will buy one for the special knitter in your life.  Or, if you are the special knitter in someone’s life, pass this on to them!

Buy one here.

See the available events here.

Places Available for Gift Knits, Saturday 3 September 2016

Friday, August 26th, 2016

I have just had two cancellations for the next workshop which is on Saturday 3 September.  You can come here, knit this hat and / or these mitts, learn a new skill maybe, and have a generally lovely day. Both patterns are included and the hat comes in adult male, adult female, and two child sizes.

The items are both knitted in the round, skills which we can teach you; and they are fast to make – economical too, each uses only 2 balls of wool.

Fancy it?  Contact me!  And I will help you to book and send you all the info you need.

The Final Project Line-Up for Gift Knits

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

This September sees the launch of the Court Cottage Festive Gift Knits events.  I have designed variations on three themes which all use 1 – 3 balls of yarn (DK or Aran, depending on the pattern) and each will take an average paced knitted, which would include me, about one to four evenings of TV knitting to complete.  The child-size hat is a one evening project; the ladies DK mitts take about four evenings for me to make a pair.

So they are economical in time and money.

It is easy to design things that are both economical and quite fast, but they can tend to be rather dull knitting.  Stocking stitch gets rather a lot of the lime-light, often.  But if you are minded to make several of these things for gift-giving, it becomes awfully tedious to keep grinding out the knitting. So, it also has to be a compromise.  Interesting, but not really hard, because if it is very complex it will be slow and difficult to memorise or watch in front of Orange Is The New Black.

I reckon these gift ideas are just the right side of easy, and also not dull.  Not a lot of stocking stitch either.  Quite often, I have placed the ‘fun’ bits at the start or the end.  For example, the ladies DK mitts start with a really simple but ingenious scallop cuff, which is also beaded.  After this, you whizz along in a lovely rib, and no more beads appear, but we have had our glitter ‘fix’.

Knitting with beads, while easy, does slow it down a tad so these open the show and then bow out.  The hats all have a simple swirling crown which I love knitting because it is so easy, fast and pretty!

I do hope there is something for everyone here.  These three days are full but I would be very happy to repeat it in the New Year.  I do have a small waiting list and if you fancy it, let me know.  It’s never too soon to start the gift-knits, is it?

Here’s a New Course

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Knitting gifts in time for Christmas.  If you start in September, you can knit loads and be all smug and wrapped up by at least 2 weeks before Christmas Day.  There will be hats and mitts and kittens*, oh my!

There are still plenty of places available on the Saturday course.  Do come.  It is repeated on Sunday but that is full.

Aside from being devoted to gift knitting, this will be a Christmas free day.  Promise.

*There will be no kittens.

Smugness. Discuss. (Also, a Slightly Grumpy Post).

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

We all know how I can be proper grouchy, don’t we?  Even at Christmas?  Well, it is (more) rare but someone has made me a bit grumpy.  Get a coffee.

‘Is it just me, or does anyone find this trend of donating to charity instead of sending Xmas cards just a bit smug? And to be honest just a good way of avoiding that ‘writing cards and sending’ hassle?’

The above quote has been lifted from a social media site where I go to look at cute pictures of Dachshunds.  Or to ask Dachshund related questions. Or to help with advice for someone else if I can.  I was therefore quite surprised to read this from a woman who I do not know, and I read it all the way to the end in the expectation that it would be Dachshund related.  It isn’t.

What it is, however, is border-line nasty, judgy – and projects quite a lot, I suspect.

You may know, or have guessed by now perhaps, that I am one of the ‘smug’ people who, she judges, give money to charity instead of sending cards at Christmas, for reasons that are concerned with being lazy – too lazy to buy, write and post Christmas cards, she suggests; and/or, to make themselves feel better – the smug reference I assume; and/or want others to know how amazing they are.  The quote goes on to assert that most people can afford to do both – give to charity and buy and send cards, and that it is better to send a card as many people are lonely, but I edited it out for you. You’re welcome.

It irritated me. Partly because I fail to see how The Thoughts of Madam Miffed on Christmas cards have anything whatsoever to do with Dachshunds. And I don’t know, or want to know her, especially as she has already weighed and measured my worth and found it wanting.  But the reason it irritated me was this:  I do not care if she/you/anyone wishes to send cards.  In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest you should, if you want to.  I love getting cards, but of course, as I never send any now and haven’t for four years, we get far fewer.  I don’t open any cards we do get and think: how smug of this person to write and send cards.  Or:  how mean of them not to donate to charity instead.  I just think:  thanks!  How lovely!  (I especially like sparkly cards and robins).  And I save them all and cut them up to make gift tags for the next year, at which time I read them all again.

However, the post did make me examine my real motives.  If I am honest, I didn’t really love writing cards, but for many years I did it because at first, it made me feel all grown-up. Then it made me feel even more Christmassy (though as you may know, I start feeling Christmassy in September and then it builds into a crescendo of festive ferment for four whole months.  Yep.  Poor Mark indeed).   But for the last ten years or so it has got my nerves a bit.  I think this probably coincided with more use of email, social media and texts.

Some years ago, my father developed dementia.  Initially the progress of the disease was slow and sometimes I thought I was imagining it, because he had always been quite absent-minded, always thinking about something clever and probably mathy, that kind of thing.  But it is hard not to face the reality when you see your dad trying to make a ‘phone call with the TV remote control.  Stuff was going wrong.  Then in the last two or three years of his life, it was clearly a major and a rapidly escalating problem – and he just slipped further and further away from us.  Dementia does not come alone and take just the mind.  It wreaks havoc on the body too.  It is the real deal.

So a few years ago I started giving to The Alzheimer’s Society.  Instead of spending my Christmas card money on cards and stamps, I give it to them. One day soon, when stamps are made of gold and cost £100 each, they will be making a pretty penny from me.  (NB:  I may have to adjust my giving model).   Why do this at Christmas and not at a random time of year?  I think people (such as me) do this because it is at Christmas that you miss the people you loved so much, and have lost, the very most.  It is reaching out.  Like you used to.  When they were still alive and part of your routine, earthly life, not just your remembered and bitterly missed past life.

I do something else too.  With the time I save, I write to dad.  This year I am writing a poem.  It’s pretty poor, and I rather wish I hadn’t begun it or at least that I’d taken the non-rhyming option…anyway I’m pressing on.

Diseases like Alzheimer’s are absolute rubbish and I feel so impotent.  But when I give my festive spends, I do at least think I am sticking up an exquisitely manicured middle finger to dementia.  It helps me feel a bit better, that much is true, or a bit less hopeless about it at least.  It’d be bloody amazing if no-one else had to suffer as my dad did and I know that day is a long way away, but who knows?  I believe it will come.  One thing doing this does not make me feel is smug.

My dad always told me I had a way with words and so to prove him right, I now say:  you can stuff your nippy little Face Book post right up your tail-spout, lady, followed by a mince-pie and a nice prickly sprig of holly.  Season’s greetings!


Owls and Envelopes – My 2015 Christmas Collection

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

 Owls and Envelopes Christmas Collection

This is a bumper collection of decorations, with a tenuous Harry Potter theme – owls and envelopes.  DK wool plus oddments will conjure up a whole collection.

Buy it here.

‘A Wisdom of Owls’ Mitts

My favourite mittens ever – and I am officially the global mitten-designing hub.  Knitted in the round any way you like, owls grow out of mock-cables and flock around your hand.  They are really fast to knit up, easy and great fun while still being magically elegant.

Buy it here.

Christmas 2015

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015


The Christmas workshops are almost here.  I have designed some Harry Potter inspired (only slightly) decorations this year – owls and envelopes, hopefully no howlers.


My festive envelopes are the perfect size for a gift-card, a cheque if you folded it up three times, a name-card for the festive table, or a large diamond ring…


Later this week I will unveil my wisdom of owls. I do love an owl.  DSC_0091


Happy Christmas Past

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Happy Christmas to my faithful reader.  I wish you every happiness now and in the New Year.



Christmas stockings 2


I do not send out cards anymore because I prefer to give that money to The Alzheimer’s Society.  My father died of dementia and I wish that no-one else ever had to suffer this cruel disease.

So, I notice too, we receive fewer each year.  I think lots of people now do what we do, and give the money to a charity.  I love getting cards though. Once Christmas is over, I cut the pictures up from the front of the cards we receive and the next year, I use these as gift-tags.  As I cut them up, I re-read them all.

If you don’t ‘see’ me on Face Book, you may not know why I don’t  send you cards anymore.  Well, that is why, but I still love you, I think about you at Christmas and wish you a very merry time.

The house is all decorated. The tree went up about two weeks ago, but this will be taken down on 27th December, or maybe a day or two later as this year, we have guests then.  I decorated the house in easy stages this year.  Some went up for the festive workshop and it stayed up – any excuse for wreaths of fairy lights and snow flakes on the windows.

Recently, I have begun to think that maybe I’d like to spend Christmas in a way that differs from my – or our – habitual pattern.  I have wrapped up Christmas (and other, chiefly winter festivals) in a tightly swaddled collection of traditions and habits.  These are comforting in their unvarying routine.  But maybe they are also somehow inhibiting.  Perhaps it is time for a change.  Oh, not Christmas in a hotel or abroad, in a hot country.  Let’s not get carried away.  But you know, just not following ‘the plan’, not having a timetable.  Or, would that just be sad-making?

Because Christmas, for all my love of it, does make me sad.  I thought for some time it was because my father died shortly before Christmas.  But actually, thinking back, I was like this even as a child.  Why is that, do you think?  Or maybe I am not typical.  Don’t you sometimes think, even if you are ‘happy’ at Christmas, that it can be tinged with sadness?

As a child, I remember thinking:  what if we never have a Christmas like this again?  That would have been an utterly typical, totally uneventful, suburban family Christmas.  A selection-box and Grandma sharing my bedroom for a week Christmas.  A sherry with the Thompsons next door, a Morcambe and Wise Christmas.  A dressing gown as your ‘main present’ Christmas.  A steamy kitchen, soft sprout, flushed and flustered Christmas.  A best dress for a family photo on the ‘patio’, amazing smells from the kitchen, growling stomach Christmas.  A sneaky bite of roast capon begged from mum as she cooked Christmas.  A proper home-made cake with brittle-hard, bright-white home-made icing, tortured into immovable peaks, hosting ancient plastic festive models of Mr and Mrs Christmas plus reindeer, sunk to hock-height in the plaster of icing sort of Christmas.  A sip of mum’s cherry brandy after lunch Christmas.  A napping parents, snoring Grandma, ‘will you get the coal in, Al?’ sort of Christmas.  A red lipstick wearing, ciggies in the ‘best’ ashtray, apron tight over sexy dress mum sort of Christmas.  A trifle for tea Christmas…

We neBaby half moon close upver had a row.  No-one got drunk, only a bit merry, my mother, chiefly, on the sherry before lunch.  We did not go to church, despite my pious attempts to make this happen when I was about twelve.  Really, it was just an ordinary Wellingborough Christmas, with vacuuming essential every day around the tree, a box of Black Magic for dad, Milk Tray for mum, opened a week before Christmas Day and handed round, one from each box, for my parents, my brother and me, each night as the telly programmes got more and more festive, until all that were left were the marzipans and the orange creams…

Although I thought fearfully every year:  what if this never happens again? seemingly forever, we did have the same Christmas again.  But I knew it couldn’t last.  And of course, it didn’t last.  

I think that to stop fearing change, you need to be in charge of your change, whatever that might be.

Whatever kind of Christmas you celebrate, I hope it’s a happy day.

Two New Patterns

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

I have added two new patterns to the Pattern Store.  I now have 32 designs in there – I am really happy to have such a nice little collection, all designed specially for my own website and my own workshops!  In 2015 I will be adding more, and hopefully some mini-collections of my own.

The new designs are the Cave Pearl Bobble Mitts:

Here you can see the lace-sided thumb.  Here they are lying flat:

And the other pattern is a collection of Star Decorations, which also includes a lovely festive star-shaped cushion.

Above, one of the stars; and here is the cushion:

I hope you like them.

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.

New Courses for 2015

Friday, September 12th, 2014

The 2015 Court Cottage courses are now live on my website.  You can view and book here.

To help you (and also because it is, apparently, impossible to design a website which can order pages for you.  Sigh.  So the 2015 events are in random order), here is the complete list:

  • 31 Jan – Full-Moon Shawl
  • 7 Feb – The Bump Bag
  • 21 Feb – intermediate crochet with Donna Jones
  • 7 March – Frill Seeker (a super-frilly boa!)
  • 18 & 19 April – Design Weekend
  • 16 May – beaded, colourwash Fairisle in the round (Kidsilk Haze)
  • 13 June – Summer Florals: stoles, cushions and throws to knit and (maybe) crochet
  • 19 Sept – repeat of the Fairisle day
  • 3 October – repeat of the Frill Seeker day
  • 17 October – Halloween at Court Cottage
  • 14 November – Christmas at Court Cottage (full)
  • 21 November – Christmas at Court Cottage (repeat of 14 November)

New for 2015 are the Frill Seeker, the Fairisle, and the Floral Summer events.  But all the events feature new designs, except Bump Bag which is repeated due to over-spill demand.

Two topics are repeated, to allow greater attendance.  But if a course gets filled up, and you want to come, do please email me as I will possibly get cancellations and can pop you in, or I will arrange a new date if I have enough demand, as has happened with three events this year, thus allowing an extra 20+ knitters to attend.

Design weekend will be slightly different this year, so if you have been before, there will be a new ‘design brief’ to suit you.

Millington and I can’t wait for a great year of knitting with you.

I really would love to welcome you, whether you have been before, or are new to Court Cottage, so please book your place and we will look forward to seeing you.


This was last weekend…

Friday, November 15th, 2013

…when Christmas came early to Court Cottage.

We knitted mini-Christmas stockings:

Christmas stockings 2

And festive bunting:

Christmas bunting red and whiteChristmas bunting white

We also appear to have served the tallest Victoria sponge EVAH:

Vic sponge (2)

The stockings are fun and quick to knit.  I teach them knitted in the round, toe-up for maximum neatness and speed.  No seaming, and so fast.  Also, highly addictive.  Using 2 balls of Rowan Pure Wool 4 Ply, I reckon you can knit 11 or 12.  I have 10 so far and have some yarn left over.

The bunting is also fast and super-easy.  This I knitted in Rowan Pure Wool DK, using oddments of Kidsilk Haze, a few beads, some sequins and so on.

I really enjoyed knitting these.  I was listening to a festive*, deeply grisly murder mystery set in Rome as I knitted.  This may have contributed to the speed with which I was able to turn them out.

*ironic reference.

I will be teaching this workshop next autumn and winter at yarn stores if asked, so if you fancy that, keep an eye on the blog.


‘A Knitted Christmas’ at Coastal Yarns, Cornwall, Saturday 7 December

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Come to Coastal Yarns in Cornwall on 7 December and spend a festive day tucked up with me and bunch of Kidsilk Haze.

Yes, a rare treat for me to leave The Shire and visit my third favourite county – Cornwall.

At this workshop, we will be knitting tiny festive beaded gift bags, icicles with sequins, beaded hearts and the smallest Christmas jumpers.  No special skills needed, just a love of the glitter.  You will learn to knit with beads and sequins, create frivolous frills, and generally have a very happy day making your own delicate knitted Christmas Collection.

Christmas bag black and silver beads

Details and bookings from Coastal Yarns.

Hope to see you there.


Carol’s Christmas Knitting

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Carol came on a course with me at Hulu Crafts in Devon before Christmas and LOOK at what she made!

Choosing one of my new favourite shades in KSH, ‘Steel’, Carol has knitted some of the many Christmas decorations I teach at my ‘Knitted Christmas’ classes; plus a pair of mitts ‘The Double Pot Mitts’ which I designed to give to my pre-Christmas classes as a gift.  These are knitted in Rowan Pure Wool 4 Ply (I think Carol has gone with ‘Shale’) and embellished with sweet and slightly bonkers KSH ruffles.

Both the Christmas Collection of patterns, and the Double Pot Mittens are available as PDF downloads on my site now.