Our first Country House retreat in Melmerby last week was a massive success. Not only were we an awesome group of humans, but we had canine company, too. Yes, Peaches joined us and once she had sniffed the entire house (and most of the yarn-lovers in it), she settled and found a chair she tried to claim as her own.
Peaches thoroughly enjoyed the muddy woods behind the estate, running up and down the steep embankment like a little mountain goat. She also enjoyed ear scratches and belly rubs from all the retreat attendees and only attacked one fluffy pom pom which had been left in an opportune place. Peaches really belongs in a house like Melmerby Hall – at least she looks like she does, but I’m not sure her manners actually do :)
There was of course knitting as well and we had a great time learning the Roosimine technique with Aleks Byrd and got started on the Hilja mitts she designed especially for the retreat. This is a very fun and addictive traditional Estonian inlay technique – it creates an embroidery-like effect, which is absolutely stunning.
The mitts were inspired by Aleks’ grandmother, Hilja – the flower pattern on them was taken from Hilja’s old notebooks where she would draw traditional Estonian designs. Because we were lucky enough to have the retreat sponsored by The Fibre Co., we enjoyed using their Cumbria Fingering yarn for the class – it was fun to see a variety of color combos emerge.
We had plenty of free time to relax, knit and listen to each other’s stories. It really is such a joy to spend time sharing a love of knitting with others – although that was far from the only topic we discussed!
Oh and because we all love new goodies, there was a mini market place filled with beautiful items from attendee businesses. Mette's naturally dyed Silk Mohair was a big hit - I'm always astounded to see the colors she can create from foraged materials. Aleks also has some brand new machine knit project bags which were stunning and of course snatched up quickly (I did not manage to get one myself). We had some goodies from the shop or course and event sponsor The Fibre Co. had a selection of favorites. The market place is always fun because inevitably someone fell in love with a project someone else has been wearing or working on and then there is some team work to pick the perfect yarn for it - its fun to shop with friends!
Much merriment was had over the four days and the evenings were spent around the cosy fire in the front room with some excellent rhubarb gin cocktails. It is just what a knitting retreat is meant to look like – or at least my perfect version of a retreat.
Melmerby Hall is a stunning traditional English estate set in the corner of the tiny Cumbrian village of Melmerby. With just a local pub and a cake shop, it is beyond peaceful. And the fells are dotted with sheep – could there be a more perfect setting for a yarn retreat? I’m really looking forward to next time.