Renewal in Wales
You folks may remember our trip to Wales last year – a little matriculation, a little dash to the train, a little knitting in Pembrokeshire with the amazing Amy Singer and the super-fantastic Brenda Dayne. Well, we did it again, crazy people that we are, and Alex came along:
Yes, there she is, in her little hand-knit hat, on her way to Plug & Play Pembrokeshire 2012.
The theme word for P3 this year was Cariad, a Welsh term of endearment, and I certainly felt loved in Wales. Way back when we signed up for this, I was happily pregnant, Mr. Trask’s book was due to the publisher just before my due date, and we thought we could easily go to Wales with a three-month-old baby.
I hear all you parents out there laughing. I do. And you are right. Because, when it came to it, not only did we have a three-month-old baby, and not only is it folly to think that travel with a three-month-old is easy, but but we had just returned from our Grand Tour of the United States, and Mr. Trask’s book deadline had been moved to just after the retreat.
There was no way it was going to work. I thought about going alone with Alex; I thought about going with a friend; I e-mailed Amy and Brenda and told them we just couldn’t do it. They were disappointed; I was disappointed; but it made sense.
And then…then Amy wrote and pointed out that there would be 30 other women there (and one man – hi, knitting Andy from The Netherlands!), and that several of them would probably be interested in holding a baby from time to time. They would take care of Alex and me, she said, and they would love to see me. Oh, it was so tempting.
I thought about it. I imagined going alone. I had almost convinced myself that I could do it…and then Mr. Trask stepped in and said he would go, too. He worked out a brief extension of his deadline, and we committed to sharing Alex, so he could edit his book a bit, and I could knit a bit.
Readers, we went.
It is a testament to the generosity of all the knitters there that we – all three of us – had a wonderful time. Mr. Trask got time to write and edit, and time to nap with Alex, and I got time to sit with knitters (though I often had a baby on my lap), and Alex got to sleep and socialize and receive flattery from one and all. [I am still getting used to the idea that other people might actually want to hold the baby for a little while.] The other attendees were incredibly generous, offering to hold Alex so that Mr. Trask and I could eat at the same time for once, or so that we could chat with people, or so that I could knit. I didn’t get as much real class time as a “normal” attendee, but I got to see a lot of this:
Last year, this retreat blew me away because everyone was so friendly and Brenda and Amy were so accessible and welcoming. It helped me to settle into life in England and it made me braver about travel. This year, the retreat reminded me how truly generous and enthusiastic knitters are. Not just with regard to Alex, of course – but with their time, their knowledge, and their yarn. We had the most amazing goodie bags with donations from Blue Moon, The Kangaroo Dyer, Dye for Yarn, and Nimu (who did two custom colorways just for P3). It’s a sign of the general ethos of the retreat that we easily traded with each other until everyone had yarn s/he wanted.
But wait! There’s more. Jennifer of The Purple Purl joined us for the weekend, helping Brenda and Amy teach and generally cheering us on. When I decided that I wanted to make a Color Affection shawl (check out Brenda’s), she and fellow Crazy Canadian Alli encouraged me, approved my colo(u)rs, and gave me advice gleaned from their own shawls. Then Jennifer taught me a new way to do M1R and M1L, and re-knit the beginning of the shawl when I was ready to throw in the towel:You see what I mean? Generosity personified.
Like last year’s, this year’s workshops used Amy’s “Plug and Play” design method and Brenda’s unique way of approaching raglan sweaters to teach design work. Last year, we worked with lace patterns; this year, with texture. We also had a nifty class by Amy on improvising cables, a very cool presentation by Brenda on knitting and memory, and a surprise class the last day in which we drafted silk hankies and knit the resulting roving into woven cuffs. Alli’s post on the retreat has details of each day, and gorgeous photos to boot; Catherine’s has lovely prose on the weekend and a photo essay of our silk hankie adventure.
Aside from class time, we had:
- delightful meals (and great conversation at those meals)
- madcap downtime in the various lounges, parlo(u)rs, and messuages of the Inn
- a fabulous mini-market where I discovered the wonder that is Countess Ablaze
- a pajama party with Minstrels (yum!) and Downton Abbey (dramatic!), and even
- a little yarn-bombing.
So – it wasn’t easy, and we’ll be taking a little break from travel for a while. But it sure was fun.