24 May 2012
56 Come away with me?
After the rain ... tea on the lawn weather! I do hope it's as warm and sunny where you are as it has been here today. Galoshes and sou'westers are out and floaty floral frocks are most definitely in. Not that I've had time to enjoy a cuppa in the garden, I've been far too busy shopping for a new laptop after an epic run in with the blue screen of death. And I've been making plans for a weekend away. A rather special weekend, sometime next spring. Want to join me?
That's not a rhetorical question. Ever since an American friend had a fabulous time on a decidedly fancy knitters' and crocheters' retreat I've been wishing I could experience something similar. Chums on this side of the Pond confirmed I wasn't the only one who thought it would be fun. But it wasn't to be, nothing I came across quite fitted the bill. So ... we've decided to have a bash at organising our own little shindig. Now to see if the boat will float!
What might a bunch of folk, many of whom if they've met at all have only done so online, want from a retreat for like-minded yarn lovers? Me, if I'm leaving kids and hubby behind for a few days, I want luxury. So that was my starting point: find a posh country house for a proper country weekend. Think log fires, fluffy white towels in the bathrooms, and acres of spectacular gardens to lose yourself in. Not the cheapest way to do things I'll admit - the cost for a 4.00pm. Friday to 4.00pm. Sunday break, inclusive of tasty home-cooked meals provided by a couple of my foodie friends*, is probably going to hit a few hundred quid each** - but hey, we're worth it! This (I feel a drum roll may be appropriate here) is the place we have in mind, Bryn Tanat Hall. It's off the beaten track, but not so very far from the end of the M54, right on the border between Shropshire and Wales. Equipped with everything from a potato peeler to Penhaligon toiletries to a baby grand piano, I think it's perfect. And they tell me it's currently available any weekend we might want it in my favoured month of March 2013.
The thinking is - but remember this post is akin to a consultation document, nothing's set in stone - that a Friday get-to-know you supper will be followed by a Saturday of 'yarny' workshops with the lovely Bee (of whom more below), and a Sunday morning in which to do your own thing (laze by the fire with the Sunday papers, knit and natter, walk in the grounds). All meals and snacks, from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon, will be provided, with no need for you to do a thing (not that we'll refuse your help in the kitchen if it's offered). Wine will be served with evening meals and most dietary restrictions can be catered for.
Now, I wonder if you've met Bee? You may have done, she gets about. She is a total whiz with fibre and yarn. She dyes, spins, weaves, knits, crochets and felts. And she makes the most wonderful glass beads and buttons. And she teaches others how to do those things. Bee has been commissioned to run workshops by, among many others, Stash Fine Yarns and Colinette. She once taught me the intricacies of Magic Loop (sock size circular knitting on one long circular needle, I love it!) and, more recently, the basics of crochet (I made a humongous granny square ... me, the queen of 'can't crochet', can!). She's suggested we might like to try our hands at combining free-form knitting and crochet (you'd need to have at least beginner level skills in both disciplines), or learn Mayan spinning (like a drop spindle without the drop, and the easiest of all the basic spinning tools to master), or ... well let's just say the list of possibilities is long. Or alternatively she could simply help us with anything knit or crochet related that we're struggling with. What do you think? Would you prefer to learn new skills or polish old ones? Spend the whole day on the same thing, or dip in and out of more than one?
This is still very much a proposal and I'd really appreciate your feedback, even if you won't be joining us. Exact dates have yet to be decided so there's room for manoeuvre there. Alternative workshops are available. What would you wish to do with your precious time away from it all? Do you think the venture is overpriced? (Please check out the Bryn Tanat Hall website before you answer that!) Most importantly, do you think you'd like to be one of the fifteen? Any questions or suggestions just fire away in the comments here, or you can email me. Like I said, the boat may not float, but the only way to discover if she will is to put her in the water.
* One makes her living from cooking and another is well practiced at catering for large numbers, just in case that bit worried you!
** The small print (except it's not small, I don't want you to miss it!). This is intended as a not-for-profit get together not a business venture. A package will be agreed with Bryn Tanat (sadly 2013 prices are significantly higher than those published for 2012). Places are limited to an absolute maximum of fifteen, including me, as we are unable to cater for a larger group. Up to twelve places are still available at time of writing. Rooms include en suite doubles and twins, and doubles and twins with shared bathrooms. Prices for rooms will vary slightly according to type, with single occupancy assumed. If you're coming with a friend and are happy to share a room please let me know, two or three shared twin rooms may be available at a discounted price per head. Costs of meals, and of workshops etc., will be divided equally between participants. Exact figures will be available when we've a clearer idea of final numbers, but it's estimated that the weekend would cost you roughly £350, maybe a little more. A non-refundable deposit of £60 will be payable upon booking, with the balance due in January 2013. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis and confirmed on payment of deposit. Deposits will not be taken until the final price has been confirmed. If oversubscribed (dare I think that could happen?!) there will be a waiting list in case of cancellation. There, have I covered everything?
All images are from The National Library of Wales via Flickr's The Commons and have been edited in BeFunky.