Plug + Play + Pembrokeshire: October 15th – 17th 2011

Our Sponsors

Our workshop is sponsored by some of our very favorite small companies who are producing great products for knitters. We are proud to be associated with, and very grateful for the support of these businesses:

Alisha Goes Around
Search Press

The Workshop

Amy Singer’s Plug+Play design principle is intriguingly simple: carefully chosen lace patterns are plugged into a user-friendly recipe and the result is unique and stunning. This weekend Workshop takes the Plug+Play principle and goes wild with it! We’ll start with a shawl, as simple or complex as you can dream up. Once you’ve mastered the P+P principle, we’ll apply it to a top-down yoked sweater design, created just for this class by Brenda Dayne. You’ll leave the weekend inspired with your designs well underway, and ready to work the techniques you’ve learned into new garments that are uniquely your own.

Experience level: “I’ve never designed anything lacy before, but I love knitting lace, and I’m totally up for the challenge.”

Day 1
Check-in to your room at 2pm, unpack and meet us in the Orangery. Let’s get this party started!

We begin with an overview of Plug+Play design, how it works, and why we think it is, hands down, the simplest, easiest way to apply lace 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 start making friends with stitch pattern books and get to use some of the tools you’ll be provided in your goodie bag and we’ll begin swatching. Next we’ll start to get a handle on how to put the lace patterns you’ve chosen into the shawl shape you think suits them best.

In the evening we’ll meet for our first dinner together and we’ll get to know our classmates. After dinner, those who wish can meet up for a relaxing evening of knitting and chat.

Day 2
After a good night’s rest, we’ll pick up where we left off yesterday. We’ll explore different ways to modify a lace stitch pattern to make the knitting more enjoyable. We’ll talk about lace patterns, and where to find them. We’ll also learn how to chart lace patterns from written instructions, since some wonderful designs can be hiding in older reference books where lace was rarely written in charted form. After a brain break with morning coffee, tea and yummy biscuits, you’ll continue to develop your shawl design, with Amy and Brenda close at hand to help guide your choices and work through your challenges.

We’ll pause for a delicious lunch, and then in the afternoon we’ll turn our hands to designing and charting our own unique lace sweater, using the Plug+ Play techniques we’ve already learned. Don’t worry. It’s easier than you could possibly imagine. Brenda has written a top-down yoked sweater pattern perfectly suited for the application of Plug+Play lace, and this will be your template. Brenda will walk us through the design decisions for the yoke, sleeves and body, discuss different ways to apply lace patterns to each area of the garment, and share several methods for maintaining the integrity of a lace pattern through garment construction. We’ll fuel up on coffee and tea and yummy biscuits during a brain break, and the rest of the day will be spent working on your designs with Amy and Brenda close at hand for advice, guidance and moral support.

In the evening we’ll enjoy a traditional Sunday roast dinner, with all the trimmings, and after dinner, those who wish may order a refreshing beverage from the bar, and meet in the Orangery for a Today’s Sweater show and tell, followed by relaxing knitting and chat.

Day 3
Our workshop continues with things every designer should know. We’ll talk about some of the things that can help total strangers knit your patterns successfully, such as charts, and the software that helps create them, as well as readability of the printed pattern. We’ll talk about originality, and briefly discuss copyright issues. We’ll also share the top five things that every knitter should know about photographing their work for publication, or posterity. Finally, Amy will share her top tips for creating the kinds of patterns that excite editors, and generate buzz in the knitting world.

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 lovely lace garments when they’re complete.

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 which has had more than 108 million site visits since its launch in 2002. A grandma-taught knitter since the age of 6, she champions the joys of mindless [think relaxing] knitting, helping knitters worldwide create beautiful things without tearing their hair out. 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 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.