Friday, March 27, 2009

Retreating, UK-style

I just got back a couple of days ago from attending SkipNorth, a retreat that takes place in Haworth, Yorkshire, England. I last went 2 years ago, and missed it last year because of a guild event here at home. This year was therefore my second time, but the fourth for the retreat.

It has grown to just under 50 people, who arrive at a hostel in the north of England on Friday afternoon to spend the next 2 1/2 days spinning, knitting (the Skip stands for Spinning and Knitting in Public), shopping, teaching, learning, eating and drinking. I may have left something out, but those are the main activities. The hostel is a large Victorian mansion that has been renovated to a comfortable location with large lounges and studies for gathering, a dining room that serves very nice meals, and rooms with varying numbers of beds organized dorm-style. Yorkshire is a county with lots of sheep- that live on pretty desolate hills without a lot of pampering. It's also a county that had many, many woolen mills in the past, but not so many now. It does have some, though, and because of that the yarn and fiber shopping are very good. That's the reason that the retreat started coming to Haworth, and no one wants to change the location.

We did shop, taking two motor coaches to favorite locations. I think the other shoppers were a little dismayed to see us, because it meant there would be long queues for the cashiers.(This was a shop with 3 floors of sewing and fiber tools, buttons, trims and embellishments, needles, and just about everything you could think of except the actual yarn, fiber, or fabric. It's called a haberdashery shop by the locals, I inagine we would call it a notions shop here in the US if we had such a thing)

An additional activity was added to the program this year, a swap. Unlike some swaps that I've participated in at other events, this one is pretty much a large mound on a cleared floor, first with a free-for-all for all who brought things to swap, and a second round for all attendees. This was followed by an individual showing of items being offered to support p-hop, a UK-based campaign to benefit Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders to us yanks), which items were all snapped up with donations being pledged in return. Great fun, and I brought home less than I took, a success.

So the shopping was great, but I held myself firmly in check and only brought home these things:in the empty duffel that I had with great foresight put into the bottom of my suitcase. Yes, some of those packages in front contain Addi Lace needles, which were a steal at under $7 as the exchange rate favors the US right now. The little ball of fiber in the top center is all that is remaining of a lovely ball of North Ronaldsay wool brought to me from Scotland by my friend SpinningFishwife, which is so wonderful that I began spinning it the morning after I got home so that the rest was on the bobbin before the photo was taken.

I was excited to learn that WyeSue and TutleyMutley will be on the Baltic cruise that I'll be going on in August - hopefully no one is thinking it's going to be a sedate cruise. And thanks to everyone that attended SkipNorth, as well as to Alex and Nic, the organizers of the event. It gets better every time.

My last two nights were spent at a farm in Derbyshire, south of Manchester (my favorite UK airport by a huge margin) which was my base for some sightseeing. I spent hours at Chatsworth
a stately home that houses numerous Old Masters, is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, employs 502 people as staff, and has been used in the filming of a number of major films, including the latest Pride and Prejudice. It also has extensive gardens, and grounds that are occupied by large numbers of sheep. I also visited Bakewell, where it was Market Day for everything you can imagine, from fruits and vegetables to tools, to undies, and livestock. Of course, I had to go to the cattle auction just to see if it was much different from the ones here. Nope, pretty much the same, just some different breeds (now I want to get some Highland Cattle) and somewhat higher prices.

Home again for a bit now, and next time I'll do some catching up on trips, or maybe some FOs.


Blogger PNWBookGirl said...

The first pic is missing! Looks like as much fun as you said it was!

11:04 PM, March 27, 2009  
Blogger Shelia said...

I just checked and see all of the pictures - wonder what's happening?

11:53 PM, March 27, 2009  
Blogger Wye Sue said...

Good to meet up with you again :-)

I think you might be saying that we may be a bit excitable in August....

4:40 AM, March 28, 2009  
Blogger Spinningfishwife said...

It was great to see you again at SkipNorth. And I'm glad you liked the North Ronaldsay. I got it from our local fibre suppliers at , if you're wanting more.

9:28 AM, March 28, 2009  
Blogger TutleyMutley said...

I agree: you were fairly restrained (she says, eyeing up her own stash! I haven't got near my fibre yet, but I have knitted up two skeins of noro into a little Ishbel shawl) - and, whaddya mean, OF COURSE we'll be sedate. And very refined: Anyone for crustless cucumber 'sarnwiches'? NO more buttered scones for me, Vicar. (makes note to self to extend little finger whilst supping tea).
I hope you had some bakewell tart in Bakewell.
T'was lovely to meet you at SkipNorth and see you in August X. Can't hardly wait.

7:24 PM, April 04, 2009  

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