knitting retreats – UK edition

I like to combine holidays and knitting.  I’m not very good at just relaxing for extended periods (although I am very good at afternoon naps) so I tend to book my trips and holidays around a particular goal or purpose.  Knitting fits in nicely with this.

My last holiday was a couple of weeks ago, when I ventured up to the Lake District for the fabulous Woolfest.  I was really there for work, running the p/hop stall for a couple of days, but I managed to take a few extra days’ leave and tack a bit of a holiday on to the end.  Actually, I don’t think I’ve been anywhere this year that didn’t revolve around a yarn show.

knitting on holy island

If however you tend not to travel the country attending yarn shows but would like a knitterly holiday nonetheless, the UK is a fantastic place for lovely knitting retreats.

What is a knitting retreat you ask?  They generally involve the following:

  • A bunch of knitters getting together at a particular venue, often for 2-4 days.  Accommodation is usually part of the deal, but some events have flexibility to attend in the daytime only if you have other accommodation.
  • A retreat may include classes or tutorials with teachers, although some are more informal where attendees simply share and learn from each other.  Think curling up on a comfy chair with something nice to drink and long hours spent knitting with other lovely people.
  • Locations are generally either somewhere beautifully rural (and probably sheepy) or in a city location with excellent transport links.
  • There is usually always lots of cake.

If a knitting retreat is the sort of thing that tempts you, here are a few destinations to consider.


Shetland is one of those destinations that is on just about every knitter’s wishlist.  Each year I wistfully imagine heading off to Shetland Wool Week (this year it’s from 26 Sept to 4th October).  It’s never yet been a realistic prospect for me, but it’s nice to plot and scheme.  The folks behind Shetland Wool Week have now started running six day tours of Shetland, and their first tour sold out within a matter of days.  I’m terribly envious.  There are more dates in the works, so there will be more opportunities to check diaries and bank balances.


Another place on my list of “want-to-go-but-still-haven’t-made-it”: Wales.  And gwlana would be an amazing excuse to go.  Gwlana is Welsh for woolgathering, and there are two retreats held each year, each very different in focus.  Their autumn retreat is scheduled for October 23rd to 26th..  Workshops for the October retreat include shibori, indigo Dyeing, and ombre knitting, and the teachers are the very lovely designer and podcaster Brenda Dayne and Caerthan Wrack of Triskelion Yarn and Fibre.  It’s taking place over my birthday weekend, so if anyone is stuck for gift ideas…

Scottish Highlands

Helen of Ripples Crafts has been hosting knitting retreats in Scotland for a few years now (I went to one on of Helen’s retreats on the island of Tanera Mor)  and this year she is again hosting a retreat at Glencanisp Lodge in Lochinver.  Helen’s retreats are kept very affordable by not having teachers running workshops, making for a very informal few days where people share and learn from each other.  I hate to tease you and then tell you that the retreat is all booked up for this year, but I’d recommend keeping an eye out in the future.


One of the UK’s major cities, and I’ve never been!  For years people have been telling me all the great things about Manchester, and I’ve finally been spurred on to visit: I’ve just booked tickets to the Joeli’s Kitchen Retreat on 27th & 28th February next year.  It’s slightly different in that the retreat price includes workshops and talks but attendees make their own accommodation arrangements.  Workshop teachers include Karie Westermann, Kate Atherley, and Joeli herself.  If you’re interested I’d suggest reserving your spot as quickly as you can.

What do you think?  Do you have any plans to go to a knitting retreat?  I’d also love to hear about any that you’ve been on.