Plug + Play + Pembrokeshire: October 12th – 15th 2012

Thank you for your interest in our Retreat! We were happily surprised to have all spaces sell out on the first day of registration. If you’d like to sign up for the waiting list for P3 2012, please visit this thread at our forum on Ravelry


Last year we explored the myriad variations of lace. This year, P3 is all about texture. After all, when it comes to knitting traditions in the United Kingdom, richly textured sweaters come to mind. So we think it’s only natural to draw inspiration from the textile heritage of the UK as well as the landscape of Pembrokeshire, Wales, to make beautiful knitted things using the easy to learn, fun to apply Plug+Play design principle.

What is Plug+Play? It’s intriguingly simple: you plug carefully chosen stitch patterns into a user-friendly recipe and create a result that’s uniquely yours. Keep it simple or build something more challenging – it’s up to you.

This long weekend workshop takes the Plug+Play principle in a whole new direction. We’ll learn about textural patterns you can apply to your knitted designs – some you may never have thought of – and the unique challenges involved in designing with texture.

We’ll offer guidance on both a shawl and a customized-to-you sweater pattern and coach you as you work through your ideas. You’ll leave the weekend inspired, with your designs well underway and ready to work the techniques you’ve learned into new designs created by you.

Experience level: “I can knit, purl, increase and decrease with confidence and I want to make friends with charts.” No previous design experience is necessary.

Our 2011 P3 feedback was truly a joy to read. Here is a small sample of what last year’s participants had to say:

“This retreat was just what I needed to give me more design confidence and a community of peers who are also interested in design. I also appreciated how accessible you two were – the “down time” with you and the other participants was as important as the sessions themselves.”
- Kathleen Lawton-Trask, Oxford

“I had a really amazing time this weekend. I’ve never been to a knitting workshop before so I had no idea what to expect. I’ve afraid you’ve set the bar rather high.”
- Karen Radcliff, San Diego

“Thank you! I’ve had a lovely time. The goodie bags were fabulous, the teaching clear and easily understood and the networking great. I never swatched or thought too much before beginning a project (I’m too impatient!) but I found this process fun for the first time ever – as opposed to a chore.”
- Catherine Hopkins, Somewhere in England

I feel excited and inspired to try all sorts of things. Being in a group of talented and skilled knitters has allowed me to learn so many new things. Having meals together was a wonderful multi-cultural experience.
- Karen Wolthuis, Somewhere in the USA

What’s different in 2012?
Based on last year’s feedback, we decided we needed one extra day to more fully explore the possibilities of the Plug+Play principle, and perhaps get a little more time to play, too. We’ve added spaces for a few more participants, and we’ll have sole use of the hotel and grounds. So this year we’ll enjoy three full days of learning, laughter, leisure and, of course, good food!

Last year, we focused on lace. This year, it’s texture. Those who attended last year will have a little head start on the process… but only a little! We want this to be fresh and fun for everyone attending.

What’s the same?
We loved Beggars Reach Country Hotel, located in Milford Haven, Wales. It was the perfect place to learn, relax, dine and get a good night’s sleep at the end of a long, full day. Nothing was to much trouble for the helpful staff, and it was an easy decision to plan a return visit. This time, Amy’s having the Pavlova. Don’t try to stop her.

Goodie bags will return this year, but with different insides and outsides. You’ll just have to wait and see. Both Amy and Brenda are obsessed with good shwag, and want you to have nothing less than a goodie bag worth squeeing over. (Yes, there will be yarn.)

Our fabulous, tiny Marketplace debuted in 2011, and we’re going to do it again. Who will our vendors be? Watch our Ravelry page for updates.

The Weekend

Day 1 – Friday, October 12
Check-in to your room by 1pm, then meet us in the Orangery for a get-acquainted lunch. Let’s get this party started!

This year our group will be a little larger, so we’re splitting into two teams to start with. Team A will go with Amy to get an overview of Plug+Play design, how it works and why we think it is, hands down, the best way to apply stitch patterns to knitted fabric. Starting with shawl design, we’ll discuss a number of different shawl construction methods, and talk about the benefits and challenges of each. We’ll make friends with stitch pattern books and use some of the new toys you’ll find in your goodie bag. And we’ll start to get a handle on how to put the patterns you’ve chosen into the shawl shape that suits them best.

Conveniently, Team B will go with Brenda and spend the afternoon learning the secrets of knitting a top-down raglan sweater that fits perfectly the first time and every time, no matter what. Comprehensive worksheets make it a snap to plan a raglan sweater, regardless of size or gauge. By the end of the session, we’ll have measured ourselves (and each other), completed our worksheets, and have a good idea of where the sweater is heading, design-wise.

Mid-afternoon, we’ll have a brain break with coffee and tea and delicious biscuits, before diving back into swatches and worksheets.

In the evening, we’ll meet in the dining room for our first dinner together and we’ll get to know each other better. After dinner, we have a bonus recreational lesson planned that involves your goodie bags, after which those who wish can meet up for a relaxing evening of knitting and chat. The inn has a licensed bar and serves real ale.

Day 2 – Saturday, October 13
After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, Team A will plan their raglan sweater with Brenda and Team B will swatch their shawls with Amy. By noon both teams will be on the same page and, after a tasty lunch, we’ll all be together for the rest of the weekend. Call us Team P3!

The afternoon’s lesson will be focused on applying your chosen texture pattern[s] to the Raglan-with-a-Difference template you built with Brenda, finishing up your worksheet and swatching.

Saturday night after dinner, back by popular demand, Today’s Sweater! This show and tell evening [bring your favorite FOs!], is hosted by Brenda as only she can. You can count on a little ukulele accompaniment from Amy, and much cheering for your knitted work from all assembled, as well as the risk of a singalong. Let’s blow the lid off this inn!

Day 3 - Sunday, October 14
This morning, our focus is on charts and everything that goes with them. Since charts are the key to the Plug+Play system, we’ll talk about how to read them more easily, follow them more painlessly and create them more fluidly. Charts, once you get to know them, are a knitter’s BFF!

After a brain break with morning coffee, tea and biscuits, you’ll continue to develop your designs – shawl or sweater — with Amy and Brenda close at hand to help guide your choices and work through any challenges.

At lunchtime, we’ll enjoy a traditional British Sunday roast dinner. This quite substantial meal is, as we learned last year, made even more enjoyable by having a bit of downtime afterwards. Following lunch, we bring back our beloved tiny, perfect Marketplace! Our vendors will be bringing their best wares to share with you – solids, semi-solids and variegated yarns in fibers and blends of all descriptions!

After the fun of the Marketplace we’re leaving the rest of your afternoon and evening free to spend as you choose. This is a great opportunity to explore the beautiful Cleddau Estuary, go for a drive in the country, nap, or knit on the porch or in the lounge – whatever you wish!

And because we know some of you can’t put your needles down, Brenda and Amy will be available from 3-5 Sunday afternoon to answer questions, bounce design ideas off or just chat with.

By the way, dinner fare Sunday night will be much lighter than usual [think buffet vs sit down], since we’ve just had the feast of the ages at lunchtime. In the evening, should the BBC treat us to a Sunday evening costume drama, everyone is welcome to cram bodies and knitting into Amy’s sitting room, to watch and gasp at the frocks together!

Day 4 – Monday, October 15
For our last class together on Monday morning we’ve planned something very special. We don’t want to give away all our surprises at once, but we promise it’ll be memorable.

We’ll meet for a farewell lunch in the dining room and, if you wish, you can add your contact details to our class roster, so we can keep in touch, and share photos of our FOs when they’re complete.

Questions? Visit our forum!

Our Sponsors

Our 2011 workshop was sponsored by some of our very favorite small companies producing great products for knitters. This year we’re adding a few new faces. We’re busy behind the scenes preparing good things for you, and we can’t wait to reveal our exciting P3 sponsors.

The Price

Accommodation Description Price Purchase
Single Rate Includes workshop, a lovely keepsake goodie bag containing class materials and extra surprises, three nights single occupancy accommodation, and all meals and beverages (excluding alcohol). £695 Sold Out!
Partner Rate Includes three nights double occupancy accommodation for non-participants, plus breakfast and dinner (excluding alcohol). £150 Sold Out!

Cancellation policy: If you cancel your reservation by 15th August 2012 you’ll receive a full refund. Cancellations received after this date will incur a £100 handling charge. No refunds will be given for cancellations after 15 September, 2012, unless participation has reached maximum capacity, and we are able to fill your spot from our waiting list. In this instance, you’ll receive a full refund, less a £100 handling charge.

The Venue

Nestled in the heart of Pembrokeshire, near the beautiful Cleddau estuary, you’ll find AA Three-Star Rated Beggars Reach Country Hotel. This intimate, white-washed hideaway features everything you’d expect of a place that dates from the 18th century. Thick stone walls, old beams, a graceful staircase, and cozy nooks and crannies combine with beautiful views across gardens and fields, to create a warm, welcoming and rustic farmhouse feel. Traces of the building’s former life as the local vicarage are still apparent in well-appointed rooms, tastefully decorated to a high standard, with traditional furnishings and private baths that compromise nothing to comfort. Contemporary additions to the building are a skillful blend of old and new, adding modern comforts while retaining the building’s magical atmosphere. The workshop will be held in the light and airy Orangery, a new and spacious room, with views of the manicured lawns through walls of windows, and an enormous skylight overhead to provide excellent light for knitting.

Outstanding food was a major consideration when selecting the venue for our workshop, and the restaurant at Beggars Reach does not disappoint. A true destination restaurant, it draws visitors from miles around, and has earned its well-deserved reputation for tempting menus, featuring skillfully prepared fresh local ingredients, and simple but elegant home cooking.

Your Workshop Leaders:

Amy Singer is the editor of the online knitting magazine Knitty.com which has had more than 120 million site visits since its launch in 2002, and is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this September! A grandma-taught knitter since the age of 6, she champions the joys of mindless [think relaxing] knitting. Amy has taught classes at yarn shops and knitting guilds all over North America and in the UK and Europe, as well as Sock Summit [2009 and 2011] and VK Live in Los Angeles in September 2011.

Brenda Dayne has won international respect and acclaim for her innovative work as the creator and host of Cast On – a podcast founded on nothing more than the desire to talk about knitting to people who get it. Since 2005 the podcast has evolved to focus on finding inspiration in the ordinary, using it to kick start the process of making, and inventing ways to carve out the creative time and space that allows you to work your ass off on the projects that matter most to you. Like knitting a sweater. Or saving the world.


Have questions? Just pop in to our Ravelry forum here and take a look around. Many of your questions have likely already been answered (things like exchange rates, sharing rooms, travel to and from), and if you’ve got a new one, just ask it there! We’ll do our best to get back to you asap.