November Retreat

Knot Hysteria’s Colour Retreat

It’s that time of the year again,  when the leaves start to change and people start bracing themselves for months and months of drab, colourless, freezing weather that tests human mettle and will to live.  (Oh, wait. That might just be the Canadians.)  As is becoming our tradition, we here at Knot Hysteria like to kick off that winter season with something that’s the opposite.  A whole weekend of cameraderie, fun, knitting, dyeing and spinning, along with great food and more colour than you could imagine. 
That’s right, it’s almost time for our November Retreat, and our theme this time is Colour.  This year, we’ll gather from November 9th to 12th (although most people like to arrive the night before, and leave the morning after)  at the most knitter friendly place in the world… The Resort at Port Ludlow. 

It’s been such a pleasure to have master spinner, author and all-round-genius Judith MacKenzie with us for the retreats, that we’d be mad not to have her back for this one. Judith is brilliant with colour, and in the spinning room she’s got a lot planned. Judith will show you how to spin a painted top, and how to combine a rainbow of gorgeous solids – at the carder, and at the wheel. The only bad thing about this all day intensive is that it’s not nine days.

(Judith’s teaching room seen here last year – before the chaos!)

In the knitting room with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (that’s me) there’s an all day exploration of knitting with colour. Last year the part of the day we spent on the science and art of putting colours together was a big hit, so this year you can look forward to lots of colour theory and exercises, and learning how to throw around a colour wheel like a pro. We’ll knit too, working on several different colour techniques, how to chart them, and how to make them look great when you knit them.  We provide all the yarn, you bring the knitting needles and inspiration.

In the dye room with Tina Newton, we’ll explore the colours that make us happy, the ones that don’t, and why. We’ll take a mood, memory, moment… and translate it into colour. We’ll bring your favorite hue to life and explore it’s compliments and contrasts, then we’ll play with shading and tinting by making a gradient. Be prepared though, it’s not all sweetness and light in the dye room. We’re also going to push our colour boundaries by making friends with those hues that we tend to shy away from. There are no bad colours, only misunderstood ones. We’re going to open up those lines of communication so we can see them for what they are and learn how to work with them. Incorporated throughout all of this hue brewing fun will be dye basics, especially as applied to painting, plus a smidge of colour theory and psychology. Bring an apron or clothes you don’t mind having stained with colour and a mind that feels the same.

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, chat with the teachers, and you’re assigned to one of three small groups.

Saturday,  the retreat proper starts, and group one goes with Tina, to a big bright room with a floor covered in plastic and loaded with dye and fiber goodies.
Meanwhile, group two goes with Stephanie to knit.
Over in the pretty room overlooking the water, group three sets up their spinning wheels (or spindles) to spend a day with Judith.

That evening, we gather to play with carders, learn how to make batts, and play with all sorts of colourful fibre.

Sunday, the groups rotate places for the day classes, and then after dinner  – it’s electric carder time again!  Batt making was such a hit last year, that this year we’re doing it two evenings in a row – so you can make even more great personalized batts for spinning.  

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, and then we’ll have our traditional Show and Tell.  This often turns out to be the most amazing thing, as you all bring your greatest Colour stuff.  It doesn’t have to be made by you, it doesn’t even have to be knitting… just some amazing human-made colour thing that you want to show and tell about.  When we’re done, we somehow bid you farewell, and the retreat ends that evening.

The price includes all three full day classes, evening fun, all materials, including roving, yarn and all the stuff to make batts  (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 very good vegetarian options. Our lovely Chef Dan is very excited about having colour as the retreat theme, and we’re expecting even more beautiful food from him than usual – and that’s saying something.

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 – and Port Ludlow has improved their room-sharing capacity in recent months.

Once you’re confirmed with us, you’ll 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:
$745. (Credit card or paypal are fine) All Materials (except knitting needles and spinning wheels) included.
Gift bags, presents and surprises forthcoming.

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

If you’d like to come and are thinking about your skills, keep in mind that you don’t have to be an expert spinner, but you do need a basic working knowledge of a spinning wheel, spinning basics and should be able to spin a continuous thread. We’re not saying that you need to do this well. An advanced beginner would be very comfortable. As a knitter, you’ll need to be able to cast on and off, knit, purl, increase and decrease easily and be comfortable with most knitting instructions. You don’t need to be experienced with colourwork. The point is to learn.

To register, simply send an email to with “Colour Retreat” in the subject line, and include your name, address and phone numbers, and the best time to call you.

We can’t wait to see you.  It’s a really nice knitter treat.