Gwlana

I am turbo excited to tell you about Gwlana – a wondrous series of knitting retreats curated and produced by my talented friend Brenda Dayne. The first of these retreats takes place in about a month from now, from May 15th – 18th. I shall be teaching my Quotidian Colourwork workshop there and this will be followed by Brenda Dayne’s Bespoke Yokes class. Last week when I was at Brenda’s we spoke about how our workshops connect in an interview that I shall be editing tomorrow and releasing as a special edition of the KNITSONIK podcast. However I thought you might also enjoy reading about Gwlana here – especially because I have some nice pictures to share!

The weekend takes place in Pembrokeshire in Beggar’s Reach Hotel. I was excited as soon as we got there last Sunday because it has got a very comfortable atmosphere and because the light in the teaching space is amazing.

The Orangerie at Beggar's Reach Hotel, where the teaching happens!

The Orangerie at Beggar’s Reach Hotel, where the teaching happens!

As she showed me around Brenda explained “this is where we all have breakfast” “this is where we hang out in the evening” and “this is where we knit”. It all looks spacious, welcoming and warm, and I can see us having a truly lovely time here.

A place for a happy knitter's breakfast, no?

A place for a tasty breakfast

All this bar needs is an enthusiastic accordionist to serenade the knitters, yes?

All this bar needs is an enthusiastic accordionist…

Where the knitting happens! (With different table settings, obviously...)

Where the knitting happens!

The Hotel welcomes knitters. Indeed knitting that occurred at Beggar’s Reach Hotel during P3 retreats (which preceded Gwlana) can still be seen around if you look carefully!

A handknitted rug for the taxidermy!

A handknitted blanket for the taxidermy!

At those P3 retreats Brenda taught her Top-down Raglan Sweater Class, and Bespoke Yokes continues the idea of creating custom-designed top-down sweaters into a form suited to colourwork: yoke sweaters. Brenda is a huge fan of the underlying architecture of garments. She is also super fun and very patient. I love this video from knittingbrow taken right after one of her Top-down Raglan Sweater Classes during her US tour a few years ago because you can tell how much he enjoyed Brenda’s class.

I am really jazzed about the idea of both of us teaching over two days in such an auspicious setting. The sea is not far at all and the views are lush and green and flower-filled in every direction. However perhaps the biggest luxury of all is the time encompassed by the retreat: we shall have from Friday afternoon through to Monday midday to play together and start making unique and highly personal garments.

My Quotidian Colourwork Class explores how to make your own motifs based on the things that you love and Brenda’s Bespoke Yokes class shows you how to fit those motifs to a yoke sweater customised to your size and shape.

Teaching Quotidian Colourwork at Purlescence in 2015

Teaching Quotidian Colourwork at Purlescence in 2015

I love teaching my Quotidian Colourwork class. I love that the class provides an opportunity for folks to see and experience and play with a huge selection of colours…

MANY COLOURS! Teaching Quotidian Colourwork at Jamieson & Smith during Shetland Wool Week 2014

MANY COLOURS! Teaching Quotidian Colourwork at Jamieson & Smith during Shetland Wool Week 2014

…and that everyone seems to enjoy seeing what other bring, and the individual ways in which folk explore different inspiration sources in stranded colourwork…

Willow-pattern china translated into stranded colourwork by Deborah Gray at Shetland Wool Week 2013

Willow-pattern china translated into stranded colourwork by Deborah Gray at Shetland Wool Week 2013

The lines in the sand and the tones of shells and water explored in stranded colourwork during Shetland Wool Week 2014

The lines in the sand and the tones of shells and water explored in stranded colourwork during Shetland Wool Week 2014

Heather Murray's tea caddy translated into stranded colourwork at Purlescence, 2015

Heather Murray’s tea caddy translated into stranded colourwork at Purlescence, 2015

…In Quotidian Colourwork classes we share the joy of things that have inspired us. We have fun playing and making an enormous mess of bits of yarn and hastily-scrawled charts from which to work (I heartily encourage Messy Drawings in my workshops). And I am always amazed and humbled and thrilled to see what becomes of the swatches started in my classes.

Deborah Gray's beautiful 'Traces' series - gorgeous mug cosies developed after swatching at the first Quotidian Colourwork class

Deborah Gray’s beautiful ‘Traces’ series – gorgeous mug cosies developed after swatching at the first Quotidian Colourwork class

Heather Murray's gorgeous tea-caddy-inspired colourwork, developed after the Quotidian Colourwork class held at Purlescence in 2015

Heather Murray’s gorgeous tea-caddy-inspired colourwork, developed after the Quotidian Colourwork class held at Purlescence in 2015

However if you’ve been to a Quotidian Colourwork class you’ll know that turning everyday inspiration into stranded colourwork is absorbing and that in just a few short hours there isn’t time to additionally think about applying your patterns to actual garments.

However at the May edition of Gwlana, Brenda’s class – Bespoke Yokes – provides that crucial next step. This means you can start with an inspiration source and leave with a blueprint for turning it into a sweater just for you.

Inspiration source + palette + swatches = perfect yoke sweater!

Inspiration source + palette + swatches = perfect yoke sweater!

To test this concept Brenda has been working from charts in the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook to produce amazing yoke sweaters to half-scale. She’s applied my motifs to her unique system for adding designs to a patterned yoke.

This is genius!

Mini-me sweater based on The Wonders of Electricity

Mini-me sweater based on The Wonders of Electricity

Brenda has applied my charts to what she calls “a petal swatch”. The petal swatch represents a portion of a yoke and once the patterns have been tested in a petal swatch they can be used to decorate the yoke on a sweater.

Petal Swatch for The Wonders of Electricity Yoke Sweater

Petal Swatch for The Wonders of Electricity Yoke Sweater

I got a bit teary when I saw The Wonders of Electricity half-size sweater for the first time. Brenda’s lovely sweater construction really makes something of those motifs that I found through swatching.

The first Bespoke Yoke!

The first Bespoke Yoke!

If you have read the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook or listened to this then you will know that this is a special book indeed and one which I hold dear for its glorious Art Deco bindings and inspiring content.

The Wonders of Electricity

The Wonders of Electricity

Another talented friend – Liz Ashdowne – knit one of the pairs of Fingerless Mitts that I designed for my book. They can be seen here with their original inspiration source! I remember the huge pleasure of seeing the mitts for the first time and the joy of reading the book whilst wearing them… There was a particular delight in uniting a garment with its inspiration source.

The Wonders of Electricity

The Wonders of Electricity

I had the exact same feeling when I first saw Brenda’s beauteous yoke interpretation of The Wonders of Electricity although I obviously won’t be able to fit into this teensy sample sweater; please be assured that if I could I would be throwing shapes in it beside my favourite pylon quicker than you could say “electrocution”.

Joking aside, Brenda’s amazing knitting proves that ideas for motifs found through swatching may be easily applied to garments. Folk who attend Gwlana will be able to see not only all my KNITSONIK swatches but also examples of how experimental swatches can evolve into yoke sweaters. Best of all, you will get the tools and maths and tricks and tips to complete your OWN yoke sweater, based on an inspiration source that is important to you. I can’t wait for Brenda’s class and am already thinking about what I will use as my own inspiration source for a Bespoke Yoke.

Playing with electricity

Playing with electricity

At Gwlana in May we shall have the evenings and the mornings and all the hanging around in between times to talk, and to share stories and ideas. There will be silly accordion songs at the bar, opportunities to talk about our inspiration sources and our knitting, and the wonderful luxury of time together spent knitting and playing. On Sunday there will also be a marketplace at which Purlescence will be selling the entire J&S range. This means you can leave the weekend with everything you need to finish your one-of-a-kind yoke sweater.

The great news is that there are still some tickets left!

The price is £735 per person which includes all workshops + workshop materials, accommodation, all meals and refreshments (excluding alcohol) and an amazing goodie-bag, carefully curated to provide all the tools you’ll need for the workshops. You can book your tickets here.

To hear Brenda speaking about Gwlana you can listen to this podcast and you can also tune into knitsonik.com later this week to hear our interview.

I am really looking forward to teaching Quotidian Colourwork again, and to attending BESPOKE YOKES! It’s going to be amazing and I very much hope to see some of you there!

YOURS IN EXTREMELY PERSONALISED MAGICAL KNITWEAR,
FX

2 Responses to Gwlana

  1. Lara says:

    It looks amazing – have a brilliant time. I love the bespoke yokes. So clever. Xxx

  2. Susan says:

    HO HO, and a good time WILL be had by all. Thinking of you from across the pond!!!

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