We are thrilled to stock the lovely, lovely wool from the mother and daughter team of Biches & Bûches. From an atelier in Burgundy, Astrid Troland and her daughters, Caroline and Louise, weave a magic spell of colour and pattern that has captivated many knitters. The yarn is spun in Scottish mills before coming back to France for sale. Their wide colour range means Biches & Bûches is perfect for colourwork - and it’s at home in delicate shawls, or knit up into hats, cowls, mittens or jerseys. The range goes from fingerweight lambswool to a bulkier, Aran weight, with blends of lambswool and silk and lambswool and cashmere also on offer.
We caught up with Astrid recently to hear more about how she got started on her Biches & Bûches journey and what might be next.
Please tell us how you got started knitting, and about the work you were doing before you started Biches & Bûches? Where did you get the idea for Biches & Bûches, and how challenging was it to start a yarn company? Where did you find the link to your Scottish mill?
As for many of us, it was my grandmother who taught me to knit. And to count. Those were the two most important things to know for a girl, in her opinion. I knit every day from when I was about five or six years old, and I was lucky to live in Denmark because school days are very short, so we had the whole afternoon off and could spend time doing sports, a lot of different activities and I would of course also be knitting a lot. I have always preferred knitting in wool and other natural qualities with a lot of beautiful colours.
As for my education and working situation, I am a trained translator and I have had my own translation company for more than 20 years. For some time in the beginning, I worked in the south of France, but I soon realised that working away from home was difficult with two little girls so I decided to have my office in our apartment so I could take care of Louise and Caroline and still have a job. I was very lucky that this was possible. I actually still work as a translator, and I still enjoy it.
The beginning of Biches & Bûches was long underway. It was back in 2012 that I started to think about and knit some designs and began writing patterns. Then I re-knit the designs and adjusted them so they were easier for others to knit. It is a different approach when you make a design just for yourself or if it is going to be published and understood by others, in different sizes, so I had to train myself to think about knitting in a whole new way.
Slowly the idea of selling yarn and patterns took form, but it was only several years later that it really became a company. It was a big step to evolve from having a project I loved to start showing what I did to the world. So many ends had to come together to be able to sell my design ideas. It was very exciting, and it was absolutely fundamental to work with Caroline on this. She is young and has a different and more artistic background than I have, so she sees things differently.
Caroline had just finished her studies to become a photographer when we spent a whole summer constructing the idea behind and the website for Biches & Bûches. Caroline is doing the writing, communication and the photos (except for the Instastories, where I mostly show my daily mood).
For the yarn, I was sure that I wanted many colours. The original idea was to have some Norwegian wool, but it wasn’t possible so when I found our Le Petit Lambswool, I thought that it would be perfect for colourwork and my design ideas. It is a natural yarn, very easy to work with, and the quality of the yarn is very high. I’m still very happy with my choice and today, we have four yarn qualities: Le Petit Lambswool, Le Gros Lambswool, Le Cashmere & Lambswool, and Le Silk & Lambswool.
When did you move to France, and what motivated you to make that change?
Since I was a little girl, I have always been fascinated by France and everything French. When I was 18, I lived with a family in France for a year and I just loved the atmosphere, the way they lived and — shortly, I loved everything about it. I kept going back to this family whenever it was possible, and one summer on my way back to Copenhagen, Denmark, to continue my studies after a summer holiday break, I met my future husband, who is also Danish and who was working in France. It was an easy decision to make the move to Lyon.
How do you spend your days at the atelier?
I still work as a translator, so I often begin my days with my translation work, just to wake up. Although these past months, I work more and more with Biches & Bûches. There are so many things to do, like taking photos, packing orders, working on new designs, planning the yarn production — the time just flies away when I’m with Biches & Bûches. And when I get tired, I sit down and knit — that’s my quiet moment of the day. At the atelier, we have a garden and we enjoy seeing the nature change, the birds growing up and other small and not so small animals around us. Life is very quiet here, and a good place to grow new ideas.
What inspires you? And which do you enjoy the most - knitting, choosing colours, or designing?
I think that everything can be an inspiration — a colour, a colour combination, the wool, the garden — it’s actually just a feeling inside you that you try to express through your work, so I feel that it’s a part of yourself that you show. It’s very personal, in fact.
I love thinking about colours, trying out new colour combinations. I like to see how colours that I’m sure will fit perfectly together just don’t match well once they are knit. It has always amazed me that you cannot tell in advance what colours will work together in a certain stitch pattern and combination. That’s a fascinating thing about knitting.
I’m someone who doesn’t really like to do things the same way twice, so when it comes to knitting, this is reflected in new ideas all the time. With the endless possibilities, I’d like to try out as many as I can — and this means many new designs.
And I do love to knit. I knit a lot…
What is ahead for Biches & Bûches?
We have a design (Afterparty) that was published in Laine Magazine issue 6 at the end of September and some new designs that we will launch in the coming months.
We now work with many lovely yarn shops around the world (like yours in New Zealand) and that’s a very special way of connecting with new parts of the world and get to know some of all the lovely knitters that live far from us.
And then we have different events: For example in September, we participated in Fanø Knit Festival in Denmark; in October we had an event in Paris called Tricot Market with a small group of knitting and yarn friends; and in November we will be at the big CSF - Création et Savoir-Faire show in Paris. So it’s a busy fall season.
How important is it for you to be able to involve your daughters in this work?
Our little family has always had the highest priority, perhaps because we live so far from where we grew up. We are very close, so it has been a great experience as a family with this project and of course, Biches & Bûches wouldn’t exist as it is if I were alone. To me, family is key.
But, on the other hand, I want Louise and Caroline to pursue their dreams and find what inspires them and to go their own ways. So, over time, the structure of Biches & Bûches evolves according to the current situation and I think that’s great, because we need new inspiration all the time and trying out new things. They are both adults now — Louise is 30 and Caroline is 26.
Finally, can you tell us about a favourite meal, or share a recipe?
I would like to share one of Louise's recipes when we are in for a special treat. (It’s a tartine.)
Photos: Biches & Bûches