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. 

50 thoughts on “November Retreat

  1. Oh, I wish I’d been saving pennies since the last one… I’d *love* to go, but I’m going to have to think very carefully about it.

  2. Worth every penny and every minute – Have fun y’all!
    -Su1282 (who once went for a once in a lifetime kind of great time!)

  3. We Minnesotans are also challenged by the cold weather, testing “human mettle and will to live” but thank goodness we have all this woolly goodness to keep us warm! Port Ludlow looks lovely and I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time. Thanks for posting pictures so the rest of us can sigh and hope for a time when we can join you!

  4. I went once and it was so wonderful. But travel from the east coast simply isn’t in the budget this year. I am, however, thinking about Rhinebeck…

  5. I would SO love to go but my money went to SOAR this year which brings me to mention my disappointment that you are not scheduled to teach… Just a thought.
    I’ll make my way to Port Ludlow next year. Same time?

  6. I love that you have taken what was your hobby and turned it into this amazing empire. It is really inspirational. One day I will attend!

  7. Wow……….I RAN to the computer this morning, anticipating photos of Marlowe in her finery—and maybe Fenner as well. Wasn’t that party yesterday? This will give us something else to look forward to! Here’s to all those who can get themselves to Port Ludlow!

  8. I’m saving up. Someday, when I have the money and my baby and husband (and myself!) are ready for me to be away for an extended period.

  9. I’m saving my pennies for the next time you do a Gourmet one. You know you are going to have to do these for years and years just so we all get a chance to go!

  10. Maybe one year, combined with a family holiday going back to Vancouver as we said we always would do. I’ve still not reached the stage of inner peace where I could be fastened in a plane for that long with my family, it would have to be separate planes. I’ll bear it in mind for if I win the lottery.

  11. Yes, but will the Canadians be bringing some extra “u”‘s for the American’s colors? Sorry, couldn’t resist. 🙂

  12. Please! Please! Please! Please consider doing one of these on the east coast! I realize there is only one Port Ludlow, but I’m sure New England or eastern Canada has a lovely place where we could do all those fantastic things, too. Please?!!

  13. It’s always wonderful hearing about the fun times at the retreats – you two draft up the announcements so beautifully 🙂

  14. O, can’t wait to learn what is to ‘purl’. This year I probably should visit Port Ludlow before your weekend, just enjoying the colours of the leaves…

  15. I’d dearly love to attend, but it’s on the wrong continent for me. AGAIN. Dang.
    Now, what about that gorgeous dress?

  16. Oh what a wonderful event. Wish I could come but will send happy colorful thoughts your way. Hugs all around, your events are just great for the soul or is that sole?

  17. I can’t afford to come but I have a question. Do you have to take all three sessions? I have no desire to ever spin and would not want to spend a day attempting to learn.

  18. I beg to differ with the line about there being no bad colors. There was a color that for reason only of insanity, seemed to be popular on the AMC Gremlin (that’s a car – those of you that remember it know how old I am). It could only be described as ‘puke green’. So again, sorry, but there IS such a thing as a bad color, and I understand it as well as I care to.

  19. That’s really nice and all…but where’s that delightfully round baby in her knitted party dress?

  20. “…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…”
    I have a question… for the spinning portion, would it be okay to be an advanced beginner/quite comfortable spinning with spindles rather than with a wheel?

  21. Wishful thinking that I could go…but I have to say that “There are no bad colours, only misunderstood ones” totally cracked me up (not that it’s a far trip, but still!) LOL

  22. I’m with Melissa @ 2:20. I get that you are business partners with these American ladies and lots of ladies can afford it but seriously could you organize something closer and budget friendly for your Canadian counterparts.

  23. So excited to join you people again at Port Ludlow! What fun and totally worth the $$. So fun to get to know people from all over North America coming together to celebrate their craft and share with others. Thank you for the opportunity!

  24. Trust me, some of us in the northern USA dread the coming of winter, too. Everything goes cold, dead and silent and, here in Michigan, the sun never shines. I wish I could join your November retreat but it’s not in the cards for me. Have fun!

  25. Stephanie, I am an intermediate knitter who would like to try spinning. The local yarn shop does not do spinning. Frankly, the yarn selection is limited here. The consignment store has a wheel but I have no idea if it would be worth the money. Is there a place to look for spinning resources- a website or registry? Is there a good basic book to start with? Thanks

  26. So wish I could go but its not in the budget. How about an Ontario retreat? Fall colours crisp air. I second for Haliburton

  27. I third for Haliburton!!! The retreats sound like so much fun. How about hosting one in your home province? 🙂
    Also anxiously awaiting pics of a beautiful baby girl in her amazing party dress 🙂

  28. It sounds SOOO wonderful!
    Again (and again and again) a plea for something like this on the EAST coast – after all, Toronto is only 2 hours from Buffalo, NY (or so the internet tells me)
    Or how about the eastern shore – NJ or Maryland. Or even Lancaster Co., PA – lots of things to see and do, lots of hotels, lots of MICROBREWERIES!
    (Guess where I live.)

  29. I definitely want to go. I have to see if I can make finances work, but I think I can do it. I have never been to one of these and would love to finally get to go to one! I have already emailed my interest, so I am hoping it works out. I just have to figure out flight info from NJ!

  30. Wow- would I love to go to this? Yes, yes I would. But I can’t afford the conference plus airfare. 🙁 Any chance you’d consider the east coast at some point?

  31. I had so much fun at the last Knot Hysteria that I was sorely tempted to sign up for retreat as well. But your polite reminder that this class is not for spinning newbies kept me in check. My pocketbook thanks you, profusely.

  32. This is on my bucket list. Fortunately I finish school in the spring, so I can get some money and possibly time to start on the bucket list.
    I cannot imagine anything better than the combo of Knot Hysteria and Port Ludlow.

  33. Please consider bringing Knot Hysteria to the UK! Please?
    On a totally different note, I’ve never seen the Gremlin that Iris mentions above, but the colour sounds rather like the shade that my grandmother used to refer to as “sh!t colour drab”.

  34. Oh, how I wish you were closer. traveling from Indiana puts a dent in the pocketbook. Sounds like a great time to be had. You all enjoy yourselves

  35. Ah, I can hardly wait to see the photos and enjoy the retreat and Port Ludlow vicariously! With a theme like ‘colour*’, they’re bound to be lovely!
    *Canadian spelling for a Canadian blog. 🙂

  36. I agree with Judy in PA. Even though I am probably going to be able to make this retreat work and finally get out to Port Ludlow, is there any chance of working out an East Coast retreat at some point? The travel is pretty much what has kept me from going year after year, to most of the retreats. If something were a few hours drive on the East Coast, it would be a lot more doable. I am sure it’s a lot to set these up, but you’ve already proven time and time again that knitters are capable of anything. *smile*

  37. This sounds like a perfectly wonderful retreat! Hope you have the exact same thing again soon, and hopefully I could make it then. 🙂

  38. Oh dear Stephanie… how my mother and I pine to come to one of these! I don’t suppose you could be induced to have one anywhere on the East half of the continent? Even Toronto isn’t that far from Pittsburgh!

  39. I would so love to go to this. It’s not a sensible proposition from the UK really. Maybe I can organise a longer Canada holiday next year around it! /cunningplan

Comments are closed.