During October I was lucky enough to attend the Curious Handmade Country House Retreat, which was again held at Melmerby Hall, Cumbria. On the way up I collected my friend Deb, aka Tinkhickman and we talked our way to Cumbria! :)
and soon settled in to our rooms in the cottage annexed to the hall.
The autumn colour was a treat, both on the drive up and in Cumbria.
That evening the sunset was spectacular!
We all soon got down to the serious business of knitting, drinking tea and eating cake! :)
Helen and Mette gifted us each with a lovely antique linen project bag with two of Helen's patterns and two skeins of Arranmore yarn donated by Daphne of The Fibre Co.
I cast on the Bracile Hat and worked on that and my Low Tide Cardigan whilst at the retreat.
Each evening the fires were lit, making the rooms cosy places to sit and knit together.
Delicious evening meals were served in the dining-room.
I'm surprised I managed not to gain any weight with all the yummy food I ate throughout the retreat!
I did go on some (very) short walks around the village each day. In the mornings Kim and I went out to see the sunrise over Melmerby Fell.
It was so peaceful walking around the village at any time of the day, but especially that early.
During the retreat there was an enjoyable talk by Daphne on how the Arranmore yarn was developed and a couple of workshops. Daphne was so generous and brought some of her other yarns for us to take samples from.
The first workshop was about natural dyeing and it was held by Mette, who demonstrated dyeing with red and yellow onion skins, avocado stones and chlorophyll on some yarn.
We each had the opportunity to dye a silk scarf.
I really enjoyed this workshop as I have been thinking about doing some natural dyeing at home.
All the yarn and scarves were hung up to dry and we were able to take some of the yarn samples home to start our own dyer's notebook.
My finished scarf - I knotted it and placed it all in the avocado dye bath to turn a soft peachy-pink, then I briefly dipped the ends in with the yellow onion skins so that they turned a pale lemon, before leaving the centre of the scarf in the red onion skin bath over a low heat for 20 minutes, to gain a rich russet colour.
The second workshop was brioche knitting with Renée.
I hadn't even looked at this stitch before so I was a complete beginner, but Renée explained the whole process very clearly and I was happy when I could walk away from my sample and then return to it and be able to recognised which row was next with out making a note of it.
During the summer a group of us decided to knit a Madewell Cardigan to wear at the retreat and on one of our walks into the village we had a mini photo shoot.
I think we need some practice though as we couldn't pose without laughing at something! :)
Or all look at the camera together! :)
Some people were better at it than others. Love this photo of Deb.
Back at the hall we had the opportunity to purchase some yarn from The Fibre Co. I felt spoilt for choice, but managed to buy some yarn for the final Shawl Society pattern and make a note of others I loved for future projects. I had planned to knit all the Shawl Society designs from stash, but after having a sneak peek at Helen's newest shawl I knew it had to buy the yarn specified in the pattern as it was so gorgeous.
On the last afternoon I went for a walk through the woodland near the hall.
My walk took me back through the village
and on to the hall.
Back inside for some more knitting and chatting with friends.
Our time at the retreat passed all too quickly and it was soon time to leave. Just enough time for a few more stitches!
Then we all stood outside the hall for a group photo before leaving for home.
It was a beautiful drive home.
A 627 mile round trip!
Thank you to Helen, Mette, Renée and all the other lovely ladies who made this retreat so special.