Retreat repeat

I spent part of this last week at a knitting retreat. I was on this retreat last year (blogged here) and loved it so much that I signed up for another one as soon as the dates were released. The retreat is held at Melmerby Hall, a beautiful old home near Penrith in the Lake District. I spent four days with a lovely group of knitters. The weather was mostly grey and rainy, but that meant more time gathered around one of the three fireplaces, knitting and chatting.

We knitted. We talked about knitting. We shared patterns, dissected trends, talked about yarn, showed off finished projects, and shared stories. Despite there being tons of space to spread out in, we enjoyed hanging out together.

We ate breakfasts and lunches at a big kitchen table under a skylight. We ate dinner around a lovely big table in a formal dining room. We had mid-morning cake breaks and mid-afternoon cake breaks, and before dinner drinks, and after dinner drinks, and cheese and charcuterie boards. (Are you sensing a theme here?) In 5 days, I gained 1.5 kilos. (Two of us were coeliacs and two were dairy intolerant, and we were all beautifully catered for; I really appreciated this.)

We had a mascot, Peaches:

Peaches looks grumpy in this photo. It is not because her humans were ignoring her. It is because she rolled in fox poo and was forced to take a shower. Oh, the ignominy!

I took a lovely 90-minute yoga class. I went for a walk on the one sunny day, in which I seem to have only taken photos of walls:

I took three projects up with me. I worked on the sleeves of my Hirne cardigan, pictured below. (There is a story attached to this, which has to do with Covid brain fog and lots of stupid mistakes, but I will save that for a separate post.)

I also took up my Koko shawl, which I hadn’t worked on in a while. I had hoped to kickstart this project, and I managed to add about 6 inches.

On the last evening, having grown tired of the other projects (and of myself for making stupid mistakes), I cast on for a simple hat:

This will be an Oslo hat which is basically knitted in a giant stockinette tube and has a triple-folded brim. It is hard to mess up, even when drinking your third glass of wine and eating too much cheese.

I have been seriously affected by having long covid this year, and it makes everything more difficult. I fretted beforehand about whether going on this retreat would be too much too soon. I can clearly see the differences in me, especially compared to last year. I had to take things much more slowly. I was the first to retire every evening, and needed a nap most days. I took the two knitting classes that were offered, but my brain isn’t up to learning new things now. Brioche stitch will have to wait until I am fitter! I had one of my post-covid “pull-the-plug” episodes at lunch on the last day, in which I basically fell over, thankfully not into my food. Also, it took me two days to recover from the retreat once I got home, which is rather counter to the purpose of a retreat, no? On the other hand, it was really good for my mental health to be in a different place, to re-engage with knitter friends, and to meet new people. So, a bit of good and bad on this trip, but the company of fellow knitters was lovely. I look forward to the next one.

Country House Retreat

I had a fantastic time at the Country House Retreat last week. It is the first time in over ten years that I have been on a knitting retreat, and it exceeded all of my expectations. First and foremost, it was an absolutely lovely bunch of knitters, and we had a blast:

photo from Events Unwound

The retreat is in the Lake District in England and the House and environs were really beautiful. The photo above is taken in front of the house where we stayed, Melmerby Hall. It is a gorgeous place, and has been very lovingly restored.

The leaves were all in the last throes of autumn; this is the view from my bedroom window:

It is a very spacious, comfortable place to knit, and to hang out. I like the photo below, which shows the cosy breakfast room. Note that everyone is knitting, except for me. I am eating. And talking.

photo from Events Unwound

We spent the time knitting, eating, laughing, drinking champagne, walking through the countryside, taking classes, and knitting some more. We started the retreat with a birthday party to celebrate all of the birthdays which had gone un-celebrated during lockdowns. There were a number of big birthdays – 40, 50, 60 and 70 were all represented. We also had an unexpected big event to celebrate: Max and Vincent got engaged while we were there! Much more champagne drinking and fun ensued.

The countryside is dotted with sheep; I seem to have only taken horse photos.

I went for a long walk, during which I got to demonstrate incontrovertibly that my coat was not waterproof. This photo was taken before the downpour:

Oh, and did I mention that there were goodie bags? Here is some of the stuff I got:

The two yarns that are caked are from The Fibre Company, a light grey skein of Cumbria and a darker grey skein of Cirro. The beautiful bag on the bottom was hand-made by fellow retreater Reet, and contained the sock yarn bundle on the right and lots of goodies. I also bought some lovely things in the mini-marketplace.

The retreat was run by Carmen and Mette (shown in the photo on top on either side with their dogs); the company Events Unwound is associated with Carmen’s yarn shop, A Yarn Story, in Bath. Get on her mailing list if you want to be in the loop about future events. This particular retreat had its fair share of knitting designers – Aleks Byrd, Amanda Jones, Maxim Cyr and Vincent Deslandes were all there – so we got to see what they were working on next. (Aleks is wearing her fabulous Seli sweater in the top photo! I am really wanting to make this one.)

I did a lot of knitting while I was there, mostly chugging along on the Caravay sweater for Emma. I’ll show you some progress photos next week.