It’s purple all right

The big purple thing is still marching along. It’s Purless, and I really like it, and it’s going well except for one thing.  I was standing in the Loopy Ewe last Thursday and Prince had just died and I was all freaked out and I was right in front of a yarn that was the perfect shade of purple (Shalimar Yarn’s Breathless in Byzantium) and I was looking at the pattern, and I was looking at the yarn, and I was looking at the pattern, and it only called for one skein, and so I was holding one skein, and I took it to the cash register to pay. While I was standing there, I realized two things. First, that pattern is easy to embiggen. Really easy. Second, I realized that I was not one skein of purple wool/cashmere/silk sad about Prince.  I was definitely at least two skeins sad, and that sadness wasn’t going to be abated by a small shawl.  It was going to need more.

I trotted back over to the yarn, got another skein and then started, and now that I’m feeling a little better (and really sort of over the purple) I find myself committed to this plan, and …

purpleshawl 2016-04-29

It turns out that I was only one skein sad about Prince, and now I’m living that thing again where I’m done before the shawl is. Yesterday I went to a yarn shop and tried to buy new yarn to knit instead of this – yarn for a big project I need to start really, really soon, and after a ridiculous hunt, I couldn’t get what I needed at all.  The Knitter’s Frolic is this weekend (so unbelievably excited about a job I can ride my bike to) and I’ll be there and I should be able to get the stuff, so now it feels like a moral question.  Am I the sort of person who finishes this before I start something else? Does it have to be as big as I thought? Does anyone need a ball of Breathless?

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So, the last time we did the Knit Play Cook Retreat I got all these questions and I wrote the answers down and made a note to keep it handy for this year, when I’d undoubtedly have to answer them again. I was really proud of the plan, right up until I forgot to post it because ironically, the first time I said all of this I called the post “I can be taught” and apparently I can’t at all.  In any event, here’s what you need to know – if you’ve been wondering.  (If you haven’t, just scroll back up and look at the purple yarn. It’s pretty.)

The next Strung Along retreat is begins the evening of June the 3rd, and runs until the evening of June the 6th.  (Question #1: Yes. Most people stay through until the morning of the 7th, and go home then. It’s in Port Ludlow, which is in Washington, and the closest airport is Seattle/Tacoma and yup, there’s a shuttle from the airport to the hotel.)

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The theme for this retreat is Knit, play, cook, and the teachers are me, Judith MacKenzie, and Dan Ratigan. I’m me, Judith is most decidedly “that Judith” and Dan is the Executive Chef at Port Ludlow, and an all round fun guy. (When you see him, ask him how many children he has. The man is practically made of joy.) I’m teaching a class called “Nicer Knitting” and it’s going to be about taking your knitting from an 8 to a 10. Dan and his team are going to host a day of cooking classes. (In the evenings, we’re going to work on Knitting for Speed and Efficiency and some other stuff – if you want to.)

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Judith was assigned the topic of “Play” and this time she’s taking it in the direction of her noble dyepots. She’s going to take you on a lovely romp through all things dye-based. Natural, not natural, weird and wonderful.   If you know Judith though, you know it almost doesn’t matter what she’s teaching. She’s amazing.

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(Question #2: Wait, Judith MacKenzie is a spinning teacher, how come she’s not teaching spinning? Good question. Judith isn’t just a spinning teacher, she’s a textile artist, and has worked and learned all the way from the Arctic to Peru and Turkey, and she’s simply one of the best teachers that I’ve ever met in my whole life, and I bet if you read the comments, there will be more than a few people who agree with me.  She’s so good that it’s always broken my heart a little bit that at our retreats, you only get to know her and work with her, and be inspired by her if you are a spinner.  We decided to try this approach to give the rest of you a chance to see what everyone else is on about.  Trust us. (Plus, she’s going to retire someday, and we feel like we have an obligation to spread as much of her knowledge as we can before that happens.)  Question #3: I don’t know how to do any of those things.  I don’t know how to cook, or dye anything, and I’m kinda a beginning knitter. Is this for me? Yup. That’s the point of classes.  You don’t need to know how to do things when you come. You can’t be unqualified for a class where you’re coming to learn. If you’re worried about the cooking part, don’t be. Dan will have a variety of stations to work at, and you can start with something as basic as knife skills (I bet you always wanted to be able to chop things the way they do on Top Chef) and moves up to tasks as complex as you want. It’s fun, and the same goes for the other classes. You’ll be fine.  If you can cast on, cast off, knit, purl, increase and decrease, you’re more than equipped for everything that will go on that weekend. You come to learn stuff, not because you already know it – and because our classes are small and awesome, we can personalize stuff quite a bit – which means that if you’re expert at all that? You’re still going to learn stuff.

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Question #4: I don’t know anyone, and I’d be coming alone. Will this still be fun?  Yes. You’ll get to know people very quickly. There’s lots of people (almost all of them) who come by themselves.  You won’t be lonely, or alone. Some people who came alone have ended up with new best friends, or a group of them.  It’s a great thing to do by yourself. The classes are very small, and there’s lots of opportunity to get sorted, besides, you sort of know me. (Also, if you have a friend or spouse or Mum who knits too and you wanted to come together? We can make sure you’re in the same group.)

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Question #5: How is this different or better than other retreats? Well, that’s hard to say.  I go to a lot of retreats, and they all have their own personality, and so does this one. Some are wacky (ours is not so wacky) some are rustic (ours is not at all rustic) some are big (ours is small) and some are more about being social (ours is a little less so.)  I can’t say ours is best, or that it’s totally your thing, I can tell you what we’re proud of, and what we like about our retreat.   We are proud of our class sizes (small – only about 13-15 per class) we’re very proud of the calibre of teachers we bring in, and we like that our focus is on teaching and learning. It’s three full days of classes, and evening events that are about learning too.  We think the resort is pretty nice, and we have fireplaces and Jacuzzi tubs in every room. (See? Not at all rustic.) We also think that we’ve got some of the best food you’re ever going to eat at a group event like this. It’s over the top – local, fresh, amazing.  A shocking amount of our budget goes on food. SHOCKING.

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Question #6: (Speaking of money.) How much is it? The retreat is $875, and that gets you all of your food, classes, teaching, materials, and evening events. The accommodations are separate, and yours to arrange with the Resort. (They have a special room rate for our retreats, usually around $159 a night, and several rooms can have two beds so you can split with someone. If that’s what you decide to do, you two work it out. The rate stays the same.)

 Question #7: What’s up with all the retreats? I mean, you and everybody are doing them?

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Well. They’re awesome. That’s all. A retreat is a floating island of knitters. For the few days that the retreat runs (and especially at ours, where we fill the resort) the world is only knitters. Nobody thinks you’re nuts. Nobody thinks you’re strange, and we all support and agree with your passion.  It turns out that feels great.

Any more questions?

(PS. I just thought of another question. How do I sign up?  Read more details here, and send us an email at  Me or Debbi will write you back. There’s still some spots, but not very many.)