What’s a P3 Retreat like? (or, Amy’s ongoing love affair with the United Kingdom)

First off, what the heck is P3? It’s short for Plug+Play Pembrokeshire. Plug+Play is the technique we teach our students. Pembrokeshire, Wales, is where we hold the Retreats.

Yes, you read that right. Wales. We hold our Retreats in Wales because it is staggeringly beautiful. Because Welsh people know the true meaning of hospitality. Because I really wish I lived there, due to the awesomeness of the whole country. And because, conveniently, my Retreat partner, the velvet-voiced Brenda Dayne, does happen to live there. Which means we know insider things about the area that we wouldn’t have a clue about if we were trying to set up a Retreat anywhere else.

[Except where I live, which is Toronto. And yeah, we’re thinking about having one on this side of the Atlantic Ocean one day. But not yet.]

Here’s what last October’s P3 Retreat was like: a short essay in words and pictures.

We hold our Retreats at the Beggars Reach Country Hotel, which is a cozy, old Welsh inn. The staff at the Beggars Reach treat us all like VIPs and we’re always glad to return.

Beggars Reach

Brenda and I arrive with boxes of pre-packed Goodie Bags and we set up the classroom, ready to welcome the students…and then everyone starts arriving!

This time, we had people from every part of the US — west, midwest, south and east; from Canada, all over England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, Amsterdam and even New Zealand! Here are some of us, knitting and chatting in the Breakfast Room, until it was time to begin!

The variety of accents in our group this year was astounding and fun!

Then we adjourned to the Orangerie, the bright, airy classroom where we spend most of our time together. And people get to dig in to their Goodie Bags and see what treats we have collected for them from our very generous sponsors. Next time, we promise to have a recorder set up to capture the squees. Because 28 grown people squeeing like it’s their birthday all at once and they just got the best present ever?  It’s epic.

Some bag details are blurred out because we like to keep the Goodie Bags and their contents as a secret until you get to open them yourself! But as you can see, yarn was not in short supply.

Speaking of our generous sponsors, here’s who we got to work with in 2012:

We love these people and the products they create!

Soon it was time to get down to the business at hand…learning about the Plug+Play system: we think it’s the easiest way to apply  patterns to knitted fabric, and we got to share the backbone of the technique with our students. This time, we focused on using texture as our pattern and embellishment, and it was a blast to get to experiment with everyone’s ideas and see what they’d create!

Learning begins
Brenda takes us through the Four Sleeves Make a Sweater class

During our three days together, there’s a lot of this:

Working out design ideas with the most beautiful countryside as a backdrop
The whirring of the ball winders is one half of the soundtrack for our time together
We enjoy lovely meals and great service, along with dinner conversation that can never be predicted. The knitwear spotting opportunities delight us, day after day.
The other half of our soundtrack for the weekend: laughter
A little spinning, a little giggle

One of the first highlights of a P3 Retreat is the oddly named* Today’s Sweater Night, where we show off special handknits and tell the stories behind them. *( it does make sense if you’re a listener of Brenda’s Cast On podcast…Today’s Sweater is a regular feature where Brenda gets to talk about the latest interesting project on her needles)

I got to show the shawl I designed with yarn I bought at last year’s P3 — it’s for Brenda’s upcoming book: Welsh For Rainbow. And yes, it’s intentionally blurred, because it’s still a secret.
Brenda shared her Color Affection, made with yarns she collected on last year’s North American teaching tour.

There were some wonderful knitted things from our students, and some funny, surprising, touching stories that went with them. We really got to know each other so much better that evening, and we all just love Today’s Sweater Night. We trundle off to bed, full of the love of the craft, feeling the warm fuzzies of a day well spent and looking forward to two more!

Another eagerly anticipated part of a P3 Retreat is our Tiny, Perfect Marketplace. Three carefully chosen vendors bring their wares and on Sunday, after a gargantuan feast [otherwise known as the Traditional Sunday Dinner, which the Inn caters for us suitable for everyone from carnivore to vegan to celiac], we joyfully descended upon these vendors and chose special treasures to work with and to take home.

Countess Ablaze — this was her first-ever show! If she hadn’t told us, we’d have thought she was a veteran.
A gorgeous tableful of Fyberspates had us all oohing and aahing
Trying to choose treasures from the Nimu Yarns selection is a challenge when they’re all this beautiful
Sometimes you run out of hands.
One of my favorite sights of the weekend… Jenn does what any good spinner does before she buys fiber: she inhales the sheepy aroma

You might be wondering what these are — they’re on every table in our classroom in the Orangerie:

Cordial aka squash. Orange and blackcurrant. Add just a little of this concentrate to a big glass of water, and it’s a fabulous beverage. We all were hooked. Well, the North Americans, anyway. It was all new to us.

On our last night together, we have a singalong PJ party. If Downton Abbey happens to be on the TV, we delight in watching it together and tsking in all the right places.

Toasting our time together

It’s impossible to capture all of the warmth, fun and friendship we experienced together, but we thought you might want to read a few blog posts written by knitters who were there.

Catherine • Kathleen • Allison

I’ll leave you with one of our last memories…our group photo.

29 new friends, and one beautiful baby

We love doing this so much, Brenda and I, that we’re doing it twice this year!

March 22-25, 2013: We’re repeating last October’s fabulous Plug+Play Texture program! Full details are here. If there are any spaces left, you can Register here or sign up for the Waiting List if we’re sold out.

October 11-14, 2013: We’re well into planning for our fall event, but all we can tell you right now is that it will be brand-new courseware and we’re super excited about it!

Want to stay up to date with P3 Retreats? Join us at our Ravelry Group, on Facebook, or sign up for the mailing list [the form is on the right side of the page].

Brenda and I hope we get to meet you one day soon!

Many, many thanks to Gwen for so many of the photos we got to share with you in this post. Gwen was here with her partner and as a non-knitter, when she wasn’t out walking the country lanes or otherwise sightseeing, she took some amazing photographs of our activities all weekend. Thank you, Gwen! 

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9 thoughts on “What’s a P3 Retreat like? (or, Amy’s ongoing love affair with the United Kingdom)

  1. Robin P.

    There’s a picture of a woman in a lovely reddish orange shawl taking notes. In front of her is a gorgeous skein of lime green and turquoise yarn. Would you happen to know what the yarn is? Thanks
    Looks like so much fun and in Wales! Where are those lucky lotto numbers?

  2. Magi

    I was in Wales last year at Caernarfon and Llandrindod Wells. Wales is wonderful and it looks like you had a terrific time. I bought some wool at a place that weaves traditional Welsh cloth.

  3. Tonia

    I can totally vouch for the Sunday dinner, (mmmmm, roast beef). I can also confirm that it looked to me that everyone was having a fab time, a real blast. All the nice things that Amy says about Wales, I can in addition, also confirm that she is entirely correct.

    We also have better hedges in Wales than they do in Ireland. I just think it should be more widely known. That’s all.

    1. Amy

      I think Ireland is insanely beautiful. But I do believe Welsh hedges are just that much nicer than the Irish ones.

  4. Maria

    I have taken classes with Amy and I have listened to Cast On for years, so I am thrilled that I am signed up for the March retreat!

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