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?

purpleshawl2 2016-04-29

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.)

cookieplate 2014-06-24

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.)

dancooks 2014-06-24 cooking 2014-06-25 saladmade 2014-06-25

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.

shoppingewe 2014-06-24

(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.

jenretreats 2014-04-15

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.)

innatnight 2014-04-15

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.) 

59 thoughts on “It’s purple all right

  1. Yes, it’s ok to be one purple skein sad. I would love a ball of Breathless. I’ve been trying to get my friend (and employee) to come over to the Knitside. My vape store has only been open six weeks and it gets quiet in here at times……There’s only so much cleaning/vape stuff we can do without customers, so I’ve been knitting. I’ve offered to teach Kelly…..and she is wavering. She is a purple gal….I’m sure she only needs a skein of purple yarn to push her over the edge. 😉

  2. Surely that second skein of purple could be used for something else? Or used as a karmic balancing gift?

    Your retreats always sound wonderful. Maybe someday I’ll get to one.

  3. May I suggest that the purple yarn become s karmic balancing gift. Prince was ver quietly, very philanthropic. He worked very hard with my friend Van on a variety of issues in the US and never made a show of his largess. I think he would be flattered.

    • I think your friend Van is one of the coolest people I know. (I don’t actually know him, but I know OF him and I’ve heard him speak — he had four thousand people on their feet over and over again.) He’s doing important work and he has many admirers. I’m one of them.

  4. I would absolutely buy that ball of purple from you! Love the color. Don’t know my equivalent amount of sadness, but still….

  5. I need that ball of fabulous purple yarn!!!

    And if anyone needs convincing that your retreats are wonderful and worth every penny, the fact that I’ve gone many times (I refuse to say how many; it embarrasses me) speaks for itself. I’ve even done blind dates– twice shared a room with someone I’d never met before– and it’s always worked spectacularly. I think people who want to be around Stephanie must all be pretty nice people, so you can’t go wrong.

  6. I like purple, purple’s my favorite. Would love this retreat if it was 1. East coast & 2. Not so expensive…a lot of yarn can be bought with $1k +!

    • “Steph was standing in the Loopy Ewe and wanted a purple shawl, purple shawl, purple shawl. . .purple shawl, purple shawl. . .”
      C’mon Apollonia, sing along!

  7. I’m totally off to the travel agent to see about flights from Sydney. Please save me a spot! (maybe two spots, there may be a road (plane) trip in the offing….) !!!!!

  8. As someone who lives in the area of Port Ludlow I can say that the Quimper Peninsula as some amazing organic farms, cheese makers, and cider producers. They can all make for a yummy retreat.

  9. I think that just beautiful purple yarn needs to be a special karmic balancing gift. Prince would love the thought of his grief yarn benefiting PWA instead of the second tier of your shawl. I hope the pattern is the kind where you can stop at any point that seems “enough”. I just love the color.
    Julie in San Diego

  10. If you need any help with anything to do with that purple… including finishing the shawl and shipping it to whomever you’d like, if you so desire.

    I would deeply dearly love to come to that retreat. But my dad might not understand my not showing up to this 90th birthday party.

  11. I, too, love Prince and miss him though I didn’t have as close a relationship with him as you did. My plan is to look for purple yarn to make a shawlette in his honor and memory at Maryland sheep and wool next week … I’m hoping to find as perfect a purple as “breathless”.

  12. The retreat sounds very tempting… any bursaries, and childcare for a four-year-old and a seven-year-old? Nah, just kidding. It is so out of reach that I can only dream. The job board that I just checked didn’t have anything that fits with a seven-year-stale M.Sc. (Chemistry)… so I will look at the pretty photos that come out of the retreat instead. What, bitter? Do I sound bitter? I need to check that… not bitter, just a bit wistful.

    • Suggest changing to pharmacy! Chemistry is just a natural springboard and student loans will tide you over for the four years of school in the US….chem jobs are hard to find and don’t pay very well, which is just sad. Pharmacy, OTOH, starts at 120K a year in California…and only gets better, say the Bachelor Chem, concentration Physical Chem who works as an ICU pharmacist at a small community hospital.

    • Go to the retreat and become Judith’s new apprentice. A job somewhat on your own schedule and involving chemistry. Someone will have to take the reins from her in 15 years or so (when she’s ready and your kids are grown!!!)

  13. Hi there the retreat looks and sounds wonderful pity it’s not the UK. The purple shawl looks fabulous, but what to do? You could try the shawl on yourself then decide on size, or, leave it small and put it in the Christmas box. I was saying the other day that 2016 not a good time to be a celebrity, we have lost a few celebrities in the UK this year and it’s only May. Jackie

  14. I am a purple FREAK. Love it. The color you are using is gorgeous. It’s definitely ok to be one skein sad – if you’re done, you’re done and it was a nice thing to do for your grief. : )
    Your retreats are completely up my alley and one day I will be there.

  15. I love the idea of skein-sized emotions. I think we need to get that in the daily vernacular now. Also, that purple is freakin’ awesome. Must say that. The retreat sounds fantastic, but alas I’ll be elsewhere. And finally, I’ll be at the Frolic today as well. Unfortunately, I won’t be biking there (although I could) as I live in the Hammer. Cheers!

  16. Your Purless is beautiful. I just finished my first Romi Hill shawl and am very pleased. The yarn is stunning, just like P. And I can’t think of a better way to honor his legacy than as a karmic balancing gift.

    I too will get to one of your retreats–when I retire. Would love to take my knitting from an 8 to a 10.

  17. The retreats always sound amazing! Wish we had things like that in the UK. If we do they must be being kept very secret.

    • Well, why don’t you pull together a few friends and organize something? Start small.

  18. Like Prince, I am a Minneapolis Kid. We are from the same neighborhood — I grew up about 1-1/2 miles from where he lived as a kid. I have been about a skein sad as well, and I realized as I was getting ready for a special event the day after Prince died that I have nothing decent to wear that is purple. I need to rectify that!

  19. When I heard about Prince, my first thought was ‘Oh dear, poor Stephanie’ And your retreat is on my bucket list, so I hope nobody is retiring that soon. I need to add a few figures to my travel budget and my child’s age.

  20. So I have a REALLY important question – what about the Prince/Parker Posey agreement that you have with Joe? Who becomes the new member of the agreement?

  21. As much as I personally want every skein of purple yarn I happen upon, I agree it would make a great karmic balancing gift!
    My contribution to that effort was purple once…never again, though I will be offering several this year of the non-purple variety.

  22. I’d be happy to rehome that purple skein. MPLS is still in a bit of shock over the loss, and I haven’t decided what I need to do.

  23. Sounds like the popular vote is karmic balancing gift. I’m all about purple, the frames of my eyeglasses are purple. I wear purple shoes ( I have the same pair of shoes in lime green, red, and brown) just so you don’t think everything I own is purple:-) so I also would be very happy to buy your yarn from you or exchange it for a donation.

  24. I love purple! It’s my favorite color. I wore purple at the Loopy Spring Fling. Sigh. Just love it. And thanks for a great class there. I took your Knit Smart. Very worthwhile! Thank you!

    What is the pattern you knitted with ithat lovely Breathless? You are no beginner, for sure!

  25. I’m sure others have already said this, so I’m jumping in with the crowd that says, “yes. Absolutely, you should finish the shawl, or at least the first skein of it, and then auction it off as another fundraiser for the bike ride.” Lovely pattern and color, btw. 🙂

  26. Perhaps the second skein is meant to be a karmic balancing gift. You can’t feel bad about that.

    Your retreats look amazing. Especially this one. This one is on my “when I’m not nursing a little one and have saved some money list.” One day but not now. (I really really hope this is going on when I’m at that stage. I need a few years still.)

  27. Not being a Prince fan (but not being an anti-Prince person, I just missed that whole period of pop/rock music) I am not even one skein sad about his death, except in the ‘everyone else is sad so I appreciate that it IS sad’ sense. However, I love purple yarn and would have seriously bought 6 skeins, on the basic ‘yarn lust’ plan. But tastes differ, and I can understand your over-ness if purple isn’t your cup of tea, which it doesn’t seem to be. Since I had to give up knitting because a) it bothered my arthritis b) I didn’t have time for it and (mainly) c) I was so crap at it, you don’t need to include me in the list of people who want the extra skein. However, I hereby grant you permission to just abandon the whole project, unravel the in-progress project, or just toss it in the UFO closet as punishment for tricking you into starting it.

  28. If you wanted, I wouldn’t be opposed to a yarn type donation towards an unemployed graduate student who had to move in with her parents and left 99% of her stash behind 2300 miles away with no idea when she’ll be reunited with it…I can offer up almost 1/3 of my in progress dissertation if you’d like, in exchange, if you’re interested in how a museum exhibit is 1 side of a conversation and it’s well past time to pay attention to what that side of the conversation is really saying…

    Regardless, the yarn is beautiful, the shawl is lovely, and best wishes for you next retreat. Love from Austin.

  29. Well done – working outside your color comfort zone, where many of of live. It isn’t easy ( even with the Prince connection) to take on a large project when you like it less than heartily.

  30. I just had to say that I know the retreat is a LOT of money, but it is worth. every. penny. I did one a few years ago now, and it is right at the top of my list of Best Trips of My Life. The Lodge is beautiful and so relaxing, the classes were fantastic, the food was amazing- and the knowledge I took away has made me a much better knitter/spinner. I’m now saving up to be able to do another one sometime.

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