A little knitter vacation

Back in November, Tina and I hosted the first of what we hoped would become a series of friendly, intimate, intensive retreats. Whether or not it became a series had mostly to do with whether or not people liked it and whether or not we had as good a time teaching in that setting as we thought we would. Turns out that it was just lovely, in about a thousand ways, and so we’re doing it again. We’ve mixed it up a bit to be interesting, this time bringing in another teacher (we’re so proud) and expanding the retreat for one extra day.

The retreat is July 9-12 2010 at the really beautiful Resort at Port Ludlow in Washington, we’ll host a long weekend retreat for knitters and spinners who are as interested in silk as we are. We’ll dye, spin and knit silk of many kinds in many ways, and we think it’s going to be fantastic. Beyond fantastic actually, since the dyeing teacher is Tina (you knew that) the knitting teacher is me (you suspected that as well, I’m sure) and the spinning teacher is (be still my heart) the one and only Judith MacKenzie. (See? You’re as excited as us, right?)

If you’d like to think about coming, the level for this retreat is “established”. Not tremendously experienced, but a little bit. You’ll need to be able to cast on and off, knit, purl, increase and decrease easily, and you should be comfortable with most basic knitting instructions. For the spinning part, you should be able to spin a continuous thread. (Note that we didn’t say that you should be able to knit well, or spin well. An basic beginner would be comfortable.)

The weekend begins when you check in on Friday night, and we all have an opportunity to talk, hang out (maybe have a drink) get to know each other, and you’re assigned to one of three small groups.

Saturday, Group one goes with Tina, to a big room with a floor covered in plastic and loaded with dye and silk, where you will explore every single nuance of colour in relationship to silk and its luxurious self.   You’ll explore the qualities of silk as they pertain to dyeing, and play with it in various forms. Cocoon to yarn, you’ll have a look at the fibre that is silk.  

Meanwhile, group two goes with me for an all day exploration of knitting silk. We’ll look at the structure of silk, how it behaves, what it does and doesn’t do, what types of yarn you find made from silk and how to best use and knit them. We’ll talk about blocking and caring for silk, and we’ll explore knitting with unspun mawata (silk hankies). (It’s seriously cool.) You’ll need your knitting needles with you. 

Over in the pretty room overlooking the water, group three sets up their spinning wheels (or spindles – if you don’t have a wheel you can do most of the class on a spindle and borrow a wheel for a while to do the bits that demand it) to spend a day with Judith. (We would take a class from Judith on how to boil water. She’s just that interesting all on her own.) Judith has this to say about her class: "Sumptuous, luxurious, mysterious – silk is a fiber that catches both our senses and our imagination. In this class, we’ll learn how to spin a wide range of silks and silk blends including silk and cashmere and silk and qiviut. We’ll make silk yarn that is both spider web fine and lusciously large. Silk is perfect for making novelty yarns; we’ll make boucles, knot yarns , frosted and beaded yarns that will be as beautiful as jewels. Please bring your wheel and all its parts. Bring along any high speed pulleys or bobbins that came with your wheel. Bring four bobbins if you have them."

That evening, we gather to play more dye and paint games with silk – this time exploring ways to make plain silk scarves beautiful. You’ll have fabric paint (wait until you see what you can do) and if we’re lucky, explore a coldwater indigo dye bath and do a little silk reeling.

Sunday, the groups rotate places for the day classes, and then after dinner we’ll have a lecture and a show and tell. The teachers will tell about the history of silk, the silk road – and show you some wonderful pieces, and if you’re so inclined, we’d love to see what you’ve done with silk too. Bring your best.

Monday we rotate for classes again, and Monday night we have a wonderful social gathering for Q&A and talking about all we’ve learned, bid you farewell, and the retreat ends that evening.

The price includes classes, fun, all materials (except wheels, spindles and needles), and breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturday, Sunday and Monday. (The food is fabulous, and we promise that there will be good vegetarian options.) We’ll have a little store on site with things that you might like.

Accommodations are separate and you will arrange those on your own. We have negotiated special prices with Port Ludlow, and there are some shared accommodations (condos and town-homes) if you’d like to come with your friends.

  Simply call Port Ludlow and tell them that you’re with Knot Hysteria and the knitters, and they will help you get sorted with the special knitter price. They are lovely and helpful people.

Price for the three day/three class intensive with meals:
 $735. (Credit card or paypal are fine) All Materials (except knitting needles and spinning wheels) included. (We are especially proud that even though we added and extra day of teaching, another teacher, three more meals, and way more expensive materials, that we have only had to up the price by $120 from the two day version. That took a lot of financial dancing, but we did it.)
Gift bags, presents and surprises forthcoming.

(If you’re a vendor and you’d like to talk to us about putting something in the gift bags, just drop us a line. We’d love it.)

To register, simply send an email to registration@knothysteria.com with “Silk Retreat” in the subject line, and include your name, address and daytime/nightime phone number, and either Tina or I will call you to arrange it. The first 45 knitters are in, and we can’t wait to see you.

104 thoughts on “A little knitter vacation

  1. If I lived 8,000 miles closer I would. It sounds delightful and compelling.
    From one of your many internationally-cosmopolitan fans who is currently knitting with Malabrigo Silky Merino and can share the love.

  2. Once again I’m going to have to miss the retreat because I’m on the wrong coast! It sounds lovely and I would certainly love to be there. And will be, in spirit only. Sigh…

  3. Make that 2 votes for New Jersey. 🙂 It sounds wonderful – hope you all have a great time!!!

  4. OMG that sounds lovely. Please post lots of pictures so that I can play pretend!
    (Someday when the kids are older and there’s $$, I’ll totally be there.)

  5. Oh my! Just reading about it was enough to relax and inspire me. Which is good, cuz I can’t come. Sniff. Sounds like a wonderful time, and I hope you have as much fun with it as the first!

  6. I second the Asheville retreat!! I elect to put up any fellow fiberistas who have no fear of sharing space. I have a bed, floor, roof, porch… friends in the country. Please?

  7. I’m drooling in that way that not many of my friends can understand…..Asheville sounds good to me. Wish I could be there! Sounds Amazin!!!

  8. *WHY* do you only tempt me with such treats when I am unemployed?? Granted, I’ve spent a lot of time being unemployed these past couple of years. But still.

  9. Oh yes, please consider a retreat on the east coast. I live in Michigan, and could make a drive in a day to somewhere there!!!!

  10. While I am a lowly graduate student who cannot afford a trip such as this, I am so inspired by all this talk about silk to give it another try this summer.
    Maybe some silk lace work…

  11. I must be strong.
    I am saving for Sock Summit 2011.
    I must be strong and resist retreats.

  12. Sounds like a wonderful retreat. I live a few hours north of Toronto so this would quickly become a $2000 weekend for me, otherwise I would come.
    I am still keeping my fingers crossed for some sort of “mitten madness” retreat in cottage country Ontario one of these winters!!

  13. you taunt me. i will be spending quality *cough* time *cough* with my 4 children on summer vacation. just the thought of you 3 doing that while i do what i’ll be doing reminds me. it’s wine oclock.
    wonder if i could pull this off for a birthday present? hmm

  14. Geez., Steph…are you going to have emergency medical staff standing by when people’s heads explode????

  15. Split the difference (east/west AND north/south) and come to Minnesota. We have wonderful resorts on nice pristine lakes that would love to be overcome with knitters (and spinners and dyers. Oh my!)

  16. Being a mom is great and all but I can’t wait till my kids are older and I can leave those buggers with their dad for a weekend!

  17. This sounds amazing! Totally impossible for me, but I’m still delighted to hear that it’s happening – partly because it’s just cool to know cool stuff is going on, and partly in anticipation of all the great blog posts that attendees will no doubt share : D

  18. Oh. I’m crying in my coffee. Silk. Reeling silk. Indigo. You said indigo. And I just bought tickets to take my kids to Washington, D.C. that week to learn about their nation’s capitol. Sigh.

  19. If only I lived closer I would so come. *Sigh* I guess I am just going to have to dream about it. I hope you have fun though!!!

  20. The Resort at Port Ludlow must think they have hooked up with a positive force. I love hearing you praise it beauty and service.
    Sounds like a great program too!

  21. What a brilliant idea! Everyone will have loads of fun, learn lots and lots more, and never forget any of it. Inspired! How ever do you come up with these incredible ideas?

  22. So excited about this!! I forgot to include it in my email, but I have two wheels and as I’m in driving distance I would be happy to bring both if someone needs one. I’ll probably use my Kromski, but have a Lendrum ST I could lend if someone coming doesn’t have a wheel or can’t bring theirs. Just thought I’d throw it out there.

  23. I’m so jealous. I wanna be there. I totally love silk. Travel is just not in my budget right now. Dang.
    How about Great Lakes Knot Hysteria? Or Sock Summit Detroit? What do ya think?

  24. Argh!!! I have been waiting with bated breath for the next Knot Hysteria retreat and now it turns out for this one I would have to be a spinner! Sniff sniff sniff 🙁

  25. I would LOVEEEEE to come to this, It sounds absolutely fabulous, but the price for a weekend is close the price of a week at SOAR (minus room, but still)…
    I am going to Griffin Dyeworks Retreat in southern CA this wkend … Rm, Board, classes… $250 – $300 depending on when you register… Fri am – Sun pm… http://www.griffindyeworks.com/retreat/
    I will miss coming and playing with silk!!! I will spin and knit that wkend in your honor… and of course there is popping a cork too!

  26. Though I can’t attend I am so excited to hear all about the adventures and see photos of the amazing things you all will make.
    I do hope someday to actually be there in person. In the meantime… Thanks for putting your energy into arranging these fiber intensives.

  27. Oh, I wish I could go! I just can’t afford that right now… I’ll just have to continue exploring my silk fascination on my own, and dream of going next time around…

  28. *sigh* no money, no spinning ability, no more vacation days…….You lucky 45 have a great time and savor every minute for the rest of us!!

  29. argh, jealous. Just as well I have learned to forget about things otherwise I’d be a green eyed monster!
    Looks fun, wish I could go.
    Maybe one day I’ll try organising such an event, but getting a teacher would be interesting – mebbe we could afford to get Anne Field in… Can’t afford to fly people to Oz.

  30. I hate Sam, driving distance! Jeez, jealousy rearing it’s ugly head. I second MN, I’m in Northern Iowa and I basically have all three qualifications. Sounds like a lovely time, please post a lot of photos.

  31. I’ve got my hand in the air, and I’m singing a song, hopin’ and a prayin’ for a “Miracle- looking for a Miracle”…….

  32. While the price may seem high compared to other retreats, as someone who went to the first Knot Hysteria event I can say everything about their retreats is top notch. From the setting, the food, the teachers, and the supplies. At the end of the last retreat I felt like I had gotten a bargain for all I walked away with (both materials and knowledge)

  33. Oh HARLOT…why do you taunt me so?!?!
    I am such a short drive to the beautiful Port Ludlow and yet there is no way that I can swing such a FABULOUS and informative weekend. I am so green with envy I can hardly stand it. If there is a generous benefactor out there, I am not too proud to beg!

  34. So my mom lives in Sequim and she is coming down to Sacramento on and around July 9th, it is her 80th birthday, but if you have another retreat please post because I would love to come up that way, visit my mom, go to your retreat and go to Churchmouse in Bainbridge. I would go this time except my mom and I will be celebrating her birthday. Love your blog.

  35. Be still, my foolish heart. I read this post when it was a baby, barely 2 hours old, and I could still have registered and gotten in. It’s strange how everything I really want or need costs exactly the same amount, and I’ve got a half dozen things on the list already and I can’t afford any of them.
    So, goodbye, silk weekend. Hello mature decision. Rats.

  36. Dear Stephanie,
    Could you ever consider holding one of these wonderful retreats here in Oz (or NZ at a pinch? it is only 4 or so flying hours away from me). We have good weather, great food and wine, fantastic beaches. Combine a great holiday with work. We also have great wool (all that gorgeous merino) plus alpaca and possum (yes, possum. it makes very nice shawls and is super warm).
    Can we tempt you? Here’s hoping!

  37. Too bad none of your workshops are in Toronto so I can afford to go to them.

  38. I totally agree with Sam! I thought the first retreat was expensive and it would be a “once in a lifetime” event for me. However, it was one of the best weekend’s of my life and I felt like I walked away with so much and the weekend was a bargain!!! I hardly slept the whole time because I didn’t want to miss any of the luxury that I was living in at that time……fireplace in my room, jacuzzi tub, dying yarn with Tina and learning from Steph!! OMG!! Dream world. Completely worth it!!!
    By the way Sam…….I would love to use your wheel if no one else has already claimed it. I took a beginner class on the spinning wheel and did pretty well. I also can spin some on a spindle. I’m definitely going to practice more spindle spinning between now and then.

  39. Oh man, can you do one of these in England next year? It looks fantastic and I’m very jealous of all of you who get to go.

  40. OMG, I almost broke out crying here in the office reading this, because I sooo want to come… Silk is one of my favourite fibers, I love to knit/spin anything that has silk in it…
    But once again I am in the wrong continent…

  41. Another plea for the East Coast. Between the cost of flying, room and conference cost—it’s over budget for me. Plus as a non-spinner, I don’t meet the requirements.

  42. I took a singles spinning class from Judith and it was amazing. She’ll be a wonderful addition to the class. Although I’m disappointed I won’t be there I think my reason makes up for it, I’ll be giving birth sometime in July most likely.

  43. That sounds fabulous, but I wont be able to make it this year. I would also like to include a plea for the East Coast. I do live in beautiful Nova Scotia, but I would consider driving do to the US if it were on our side of the continent.
    Enjoy it though for all of us who aren’t coming.

  44. This does sound stupendously fun. Of course, I don’t even have basic beginner spindle skills. (And somewhere along the line I’ve started to need to plan my life out more than 3 months in advance. )

  45. I do so wish that I could come to the ‘retreat’ – it sounds absolutely wonderful, but alas, I’m on the wrong continent! Please, please come to the U.K.!

  46. Another vote here for an East Coast stint, especially if you would teach your ‘knitting for speed and efficiency’ class – I’d be there in a second! Maybe you could do a two-week camp-style thing that crams two or three retreats into a short span for you folks and lets us Easterners get in a visit with you. I bet WEBS would help host, and then you’d be in my backyard! Whee!

  47. Unfortunately, “I toil not neither do I spin”. The first gives me the required time; the second disqualifies me. Bummer!! To the lucky 45, “Have a fabulous retreat”. Maybe one day, there will be one on the east coast or, even better, one in Canada. Just saying….

  48. West Coast, East Coast, Asheville–all would tempt me to travel. Unfortunately this year I’ve committed my days off and retreat savings to SQUAM by the Sea in October.
    Next year…will there be a next year for this? Should I put it on the calendar so I can save vacation days and dollars?

  49. I’m in Ky, so Asheville, NC would be possible for me. And “Knitting for speed and efficiency” is on my wish list, too.
    So I hope our 2-cent vote counts!

  50. Just sitting here with my fingers crossed that my e-mail was one of the 1st 45…..Then I’ll break the news to DH. Thankfully, he is all for me getting away and having fun.

  51. Sigh… If only I could spin. And I was looking for something to do this summer too… God I wish I could go.

  52. What an awesome opportunity! I would love to explore the wonders of silk, but must concentrate on my critters in the barn (hint — maybe an alpaca fiber retreat? — hint). To those who attend – enjoy and learn!

  53. Hi,
    Would you consider doing something like this on the East coast for those of us who have limited time for air travel, but could kidnap the family car for a weekend? I’m only four hours from Toronto by car, but a whole day’s travel away from the West coast.

  54. oh man – your timing couldn’t be better! I have a few 100 new cocoons from raising my first batch of silkworms from eggs and I’m very excited to figure out what to do next. And I just took a class from Judith at MD Sheep & Wool so I know what a superb teacher she is. But it’s too late now, right?

  55. Wow, it sounds WONDERFUL! Yes, I would take that boiling water class from Judith; or one on how to use the phone book; or one on how to sing the ABCs. She makes everything interesting and compelling and fun.
    Hope the prep work goes smoothly and that everyone who comes has a lovely and productive time!

  56. Just a question: Do I need to spin? I took a spindling class at the Estes Park Wool Market last year, but I still suck at it nine ways from Sunday (maybe if I actually practiced…). But still, couldn’t I just knit?

  57. Sock Summit(or Retreat) Great Lakes (in Western Michigan) would be so much closer for you and you wouldn’t have that nasty time zone thing to deal with! Have fun in Port Ludlow.

  58. Is it wrong that I have the urge to go an take spinning lessons and buy a wheel just so that I can be part of this?

  59. Wow. I could really use this right now, but I can’t. It’s so close to my house too. Maybe I’ll just drive by and wish I was inside having fun with you guys. 🙂

  60. I am so excited! And I totally agree. I would sit at the feet of Judith and listen to her talk about absolutely anything.
    Now, off to teach KT to spin….

  61. I sobbed yesterday, but did want to add – thank you! for doing this! I hope to make it to Port Ludlow to take a class with you sometime. The cost is fantastic and now that I’ve looked into the area, I’m in love. I know why east coast/australia/canada people would want a different location, but wow! is it fantastic looking… a dream come true! Have a great time, Lucky 45 – and post for all of us at home! 🙂

  62. Ah, Leta @ 11:47, I think you’re on to something. Traverse City, for example …

  63. *sigh* Must remember you’ll being doing things like this for a long time to come so maybe another year I’ll get to do a Knot Hysteria retreat. Of course I still have to decide which wheel is for me and this retreat would be putting the cart before the horse.
    Everyone will have a fabulous time and the setting, food and teachers are the best. Enjoy it for me you lucky 45 and Tina and Stephanie and Judith. (and probably Susan and Debbi.)

  64. I’m in! I’m in! I’m so excited I can’t concentrate on work!
    I’ve taken spinning classes from Judith and she is awesome. I’ve not yet taken classes from you or Tina, but I’m so ready!

  65. Just checking–is the retreat full yet? You make such wonderful plans and create such beautiful events!

  66. yes, yes…east coast…east coast. Have fun…sounds like a great time!

  67. I could practically cry thinking about a silk spinning glass w/Judith. If only I could make it happen, but alas….

  68. I neither spin nor dye, and don’t have a true interest in learning how to do either one, but I’ve been to Port Ludlow and envy each and everyone of you who will be taking part in what sounds like such a fantastically lovely retreat.

  69. sigh. why do i spend all my money on kate’s music? this sounds fabulous in all kinds of ways, and it’s the weekend she finishes up piano camp, and i’m the only parent who can be there for the finale. crap. i need a clone.

  70. If there is still room.. I think I am coming..My daughter’s baby shower is the following weekend, but I think I can do this trip…Whoo Hooo.. and get this… it was my darling husband who suggested it! Love that man.

  71. …or you could come to England. I live in Stratford upon Avon so you could combine it with a little light history and literature – although not much sea!! 🙂

  72. This sounds like a lot of fun. I knit, but have never spun – but am definitely game to learn … so even if I wasn’t working that weekend (yeah almost everyweekend spring and summer), if you have one skill can you be a beginner in the other?
    A third/fourth for Asheville, NC location. Still a drive but definitely within range.
    If you are looking for silk that is already spun for the dye-classes – contact Vikki Clayton of Hand-dyed fibers. She has some older silk Perle#5 that knits up nice and soft. She sells to the public and to people who kit for classes.
    M –

  73. And here is another vote for New Jersey. Sadly I’m leaving on the 12th for Albuquerque and Convergence. 🙁 Sounds like a wonderful experience. Enjoy it everyone!

  74. Steph, Did you know that nearly EVERYONE in New England knits? Well, nearly everyone. I do wish some of these lovely events were on the East Coast. Have a blast. Lily

  75. I had a peek at the plastic turtle office lamp and this thought came to me: it is in the office because his wife wouldn’t let it in the house.
    Hope you are feeling better.
    Drink cranberry juice, it works, really, decreases the adherence of bacterial pillae of e coli which is the usual cootie involved in utis and kidney infections

  76. All these comments, and not one even tried to wheedle information about the secret stealth thing? I’m amazed!

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