My favourite character in Dodie Smith’s wonderful book, I Capture the Castle, is Topaz Mortmain. I know you’re supposed to feel for Cassandra, the heroine of the book as well as its narrator, and I do. But Topaz, the former…Continue Reading
Helping people knit useful, beautiful things since 2011.
With the focus firmly on instruction, Gwlana workshops are designed to help you learn new techniques, improve your design skills, and move your knitting to the next level.
We're serious about playing with yarn. Over a long weekend you'll have plenty of time to explore new skills, test your ideas and design a garment that's uniquely you. With unparalleled access to instructors, you'll always find help if you need it.
Each year we hand-pick vendors from amongst the best independent yarnies and fiberistas that Wales has to offer. Discover them in our Tiny Perfect Marketplace.
With plenty of time in the schedule for knitting, you’ll leave our weekend together inspired, with new skills and knowledge, (to say nothing of new tools and yarn!) and with a project, or several, well underway.
23 - 25 October 2015
Something magical happens when you lift wet fibre out of an indigo dyebath. Slowly, almost miraculously, as soon as the fibre reaches the air it begins to change colour, from clear yellow to aqua, through green and teal, until it becomes vibrant blue. Although it’s well-known chemical process with a long and glorious tradition, measurable, and determined by a few easily controlled variables, it still seems like magic. From yellow... to blue in the span of a few heartbeats. Makes me smile, every time.
Our autumn Gwlana weekend is devoted to turning a wide variety of textiles from yellow to blue, with indigo. You’ll experience the special alchemy of indigo on silk, cotton, linen and wool, on both woven fabric and yarn. You’ll learn a Japanese method of resist dyeing, called shibori, and you’ll prepare yarn for indigo dyeing. You’ll learn practical methods, designed for home dyers, for setting up and getting the most from a small indigo vat, and you’ll watch the amazing indigo colour transformation, many times, over the course of our full-day in the dye-studio. (We promise it'll make you smile, every time.) You'll learn techniques for creating beautiful transitions between multiple colours, or shades of a single colour in knitted fabric, and how to combine yarn of different weights, fibres and colours to create a harmonious whole. You’ll leave the weekend inspired and energised, with your workshop projects completed or well underway, and possibly a little bit of blue under your fingernails.
Experience level: This weekend workshop is for the adventurous knitter who can sew with a needle and thread, knit in the round on double pointed needles. Stranded knitting - working with one colour of yarn while carrying a second colour across the back of the work - is used in one small section of the Optical Ombré workshop, but is not a strictly necessary skill as there are plenty of other techniques to learn in that workshop. No previous dyeing or design experience is necessary.
Shibori is a Japanese technique of manipulating fabric - stitching, pleating, folding, wrapping, bunching and binding - before dyeing it with indigo. In this class you’ll learn four shibori methods - Ori Nui, Kumo, Arashi, and Mokume - and use them to create pattern on a variety of different fibres, and new and repurposed textiles.
The indigo transformation is always exciting, but never more so than when shibori pieces are unbound. Where the dye flows while it’s in the indigo vat is not something you can control, so the patterns are often surprising, and always unique.
Shibori 4 Ways includes:
In this class you'll examine a wide range of inspiring natural fibre shibori samples of cloth, garments and embellishments, created from new and repurposed textiles.
Indigo is one of our oldest dyes, in use for thousands of years. In this class you’ll learn about the uses of indigo throughout history in different cultures around the world. No other dyestuff has been valued by so many human cultures for so long.
The extraordinary process used to capture the clear, cool blues of indigo is highly scalable. It works at the large volumes required for the commercial garment industry, right down to those used by the hand knitter at a small kitchen sink.
The Practical Indigo workshop will allow you to:
Practical Indigo Dyeing will give you all the basic information and skills to be able to vat-dye yarn and fabric in your own home, with easily obtained equipment and dyeing chemicals. Once you've experienced this magical process for yourself, you'll be wanting to DYE ALL THE THINGS!
Ombré is the gradual blending of different colours, or a blend between different values of a single colour, from light to dark. Optical blending is a visual phenomenon that occurs when two colours are viewed together. Rather than seeing the individual colours, the viewer perceives a blend of the two.
Once a tool of Impressionist painters, knitters can use optical blending to create the illusion of ombré on knitted fabric. In this class you’ll learn pattern and stitch work techniques for transitioning between colours. Using your own indigo dyed yarn, you’ll combine yarns of different weights and fibres and choose from a range of patterns to create a beautiful optical ombré accessory.
Optical Ombré includes:
In this class you’ll see Brenda’s mini-me wardrobe, a terracotta army of knitwear worked to 1/2 scale, featuring a range of Optical Ombré techniques.
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, cozy nooks and crannies and beautiful views across gardens and fields 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 skilful 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 beautifully prepared local ingredients, and simple but elegant home cooking.
Day 1 – Friday, 23 October 2015
Check-in to your room no later than noon, then head to the BreakfastRoom by 1pm to meet your fellow workshop participants over a get-acquainted buffet. Classes begin at 2pm sharp! Don’t be late!
The weekend begins with the opening of goodie bags, where you’ll discover the exciting class materials you’ll use in the workshops ahead of you, plus some extra special surprises. Our Shibori 5 Ways class kicks off with an overview of the Japanese resist dyeing method. We’ll show you how a little stitching, a little folding, and quick dip in an indigo bath can revive tired textiles, and give new ones added interest and texture. Then we’ll stitch, pleat, iron, fold, wrap, ruche, and clamp our textiles to get them ready for Saturday’s indigo vats.
Mid-afternoon, we’ll have a brain break with coffee, tea and lovely biscuits, and then you’ll choose the yarn bases you want to work with over the weekend, label your skeins and prepare your yarn for indigo dyeing.
Later that evening, we’ll meet in the dining room for our first dinner together after which we’ll adjourn to the pub for a relaxing evening of knitting and chat. The inn has a licensed bar and serves real ale and cider.
Day 2 – Saturday, 24 October 2015
After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, we’re off on a quick trip along the glorious Pembrokeshire estuary, and over the Cleddau Bridge to the Burton Village Hall - our dye studio for the day. Your yarn and textiles will be waiting for you when you arrive, and you’ll get your first indigo vat going right away using indigo liquor for a speedy start. Then you’ll leave the vat to do its own thing while you learn all about indigo. Caerthan will demonstrate the most practical methods for working with indigo at home, show you how to set up an indigo vat, and how to make the most of it.
This fun studio day will be spent hovering over an indigo vat, poking fibre with sticks, watching things change colour, rinsing indigo from your fabric and yarn, and unwrapping your shibori to view your new creations. While we play, our friends at Beggars Reach will keep us well supported with morning and afternoon tea, coffee and biscuits, and remind us to eat when they bring in our lovely lunch.
When you’ve finished your dyeing for the day, you can hang out in the studio with your knitsibs and your knitting, or return to Beggars Reach and relax a bit before dinner.
After our Saturday night dinner, and back by popular demand, well meet back in the Orangery to show off our Shibori projects and enjoy an evening of Today’s Sweater. This Finished Object show and tell has become something of a tradition at our weekend workshops, and is hosted by Brenda, as only she can. Every project has a story to tell, and this is your night to share it. Bring whatever you like to share with the group - FOs, UFOs; successful projects or those less so. You can count on learning even more about your fellow gwlana weekenders tonight, plus much cheering for your knitted work from all assembled, and a really lovely, warm, knitterly glow as you head off to bed. This is one of our favourite parts of the weekend.
Day 3 - Sunday, 25 October 2015
After our Sunday morning breakfast, we’ll head back to the Orangery for Brenda’s Optical Ombré class, where you’ll learn methods for transitioning between colours to create subtle blending between different colours or shades in your knitwear. Using the yarn you dyed on Saturday, you’ll learn to combine yarn of different weights, fibres and colours to create a harmonious whole.
At lunchtime, we’ll enjoy a traditional British Sunday roast dinner, with all the trimmings, and while we dine our UK-based vendors will be setting up for one of the highlights of our weekend: The Tiny Perfect Marketplace. Our vendors will be bringing their best wares to share with you – solids, semi-solids and variegated yarns in fibres and blends of all descriptions. Our Marketplace is not just for vendors. Do you spin or dye yarn? Make stitch markers or jewellery? Paint watercolours or work in wood? Something else we haven’t thought of? Your wares are also welcome at our Marketplace.We’ll be talking about this in our Gwlana Ravelry forum…come join us!
After a substantial Sunday Lunch and the thrill of the Marketplace, the rest of your afternoon and evening is free to spend as you choose. This is a opportunity to explore the beautiful Cleddau Estuary, go for a walk in the countryside, catalog your recent stash acquisitions, nap, 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 Caerthan will be available from 3-5 Sunday afternoon in the Bar area to answer questions, bounce design ideas off or just chat and knit with.
Dinner fare Sunday night will be much lighter than usual [think buffet], since we’ve just had the feast of the ages at lunchtime. After our Sunday buffet we’ll meet in the lounge for another Gwlana tradition: Our Prosecco Pyjama Party! This year we’re adding a new element to our evening of revelry, a Pub Quiz for knitters. Quiz answers are based on the things you’ve learned over the weekend. Were you paying attention? If so, you and your team could win fabulous prizes!
We don’t want to say too much more about what goes on at this party. As always, what happens at Gwlana, stays at Gwlana.
Day 4 – Monday, 26 October 2015
Our last class together on Monday morning features a new and different class for each workshop, with the focus on interesting techniques that you might not have tried before, and small projects that are easy to travel with. It's always a secret, and always memorable. We promise you’ll love it.
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.
By 2pm, you’ll be on your way.
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4|
|Noon - check in
1pm - Lunch
2pm - Shibori 4 Ways
4pm - Break
4:15 - Shibori 4 Ways
6pm - Dinner
|8am - Breakfast
9am - Practical Indigo Dyeing
11am - Break
11:15 - Practical Indigo Dyeing
1pm - Lunch
2pm - Practical Indigo Dyeing
4pm - Break
4:15 - Practical Indigo Dyeing
6pm - Dinner
8pm - Today's Sweater
|8am - Breakfast
9am - Colour Blending on the Needles
11am - Break
11:15 - Colour Blending on the Needles
1pm - Lunch
2pm - Tiny Perfect Marketplace
3pm - 6pm - Free time
6pm - Dinner
8pm - Prosecco + Pyjamas
|8am - Breakfast
9am - Mystery Class
1pm - Farewell lunch
2pm - Checkout
|Single Rate||Includes all workshop fees, a lovely keepsake goodie bag containing class materials and extra surprises, three nights single occupancy accommodation, and all meals and beverages (excluding alcohol).||£675 per person|
|Double Rate||Includes all workshop fees, a lovely keepsake goodie bag containing class materials and extra surprises, three nights double occupancy accommodation, and all meals and beverages (excluding alcohol).||£575 per person|
|Family Rate||Includes three nights double occupancy accommodation for workshop non-participants and children sharing their room, plus breakfast and dinner (excluding alcohol).||£200 adult (£150 child)|
If you cancel your Reservation by 25 August, 2015, you’ll receive a full refund. No refunds will be given for cancellations after this date 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 transaction fee.
Advance registration, for our mailing list subscribers, opens at 2:00 pm GMT on 8 July 2015.
General registration opens at 2:00 pm GMT on 9 July 2015.
We’ve been surprised in the past by how quickly the Autumn Gwlana workshops sell out. We think it’s wonderful that they do and, at the same time, we’re always sorry to have disappoint those who really want to come, and can’t because there simply aren’t any spaces left. So this year we’re trying something a little different. On the theory that people who sign up for our mailing list really do want to attend one of our workshops, we’re going to offer our mailing list subscribers the opportunity to register for the Autumn workshop 24 hours in advance of the general public.
Mailing list subscribers will receive a reminder email a week ahead of the advance registration date, and another on the day. (We won’t send you an email about general registration because you’ll already have had two emails on the subject. Presumably, if you wanted to register for the workshop, you’d have done so already. ) Then, in the autumn, you’ll hear from us again about our May 2016 program. See? Not spammy. A few emails a year is all. And you can always unsubscribe at any time if we start to bug you.
Bottom line: If you’d really like to attend our one of our workshops, subscribing to the mailing list is the best way to make that happen. Please use the form below to sign up.
Brenda Dayne has taught throughout the US and UK, in venues large and small, from yarn shops and guild gatherings, to events like Vogue Knitting Live, the Fibertrain Festival, and Madrona Fibre Festival. Brenda has written for Interweave Knits, and Interweave…
Caerthan Wrack is the dyer behind Triskelion Yarn and Fibre, a hand-dyed yarn studio in West Wales. Originally started nearly a decade ago as a way to add value to fleece from his small herd of alpacas, Triskelion has grown…
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 experienceKaren Wolthuis, USA 
“All the vendors were really good with great yarns. Really enjoyed the weekend (ended too soon). And I look forward to coming back next October.”Jane Morley, UK 
"I have wanted to design for a long time, but have had a complete mental block on how to fit in stitch patterns into a garment’s structure. Now I have a much better idea of how that works…It’s been absolutely fantastic and I will be back.”Rachel Brown, London, UK 
"This has been a fantastic weekend of knitters, ideas, inspiration and fun. I have completely enjoyed every bit. The venue is perfect, although I fear as word of mouth spreads, it will sell out even faster. I would rhapsodize about the food, but someone is attempting to feed me again at this moment.”Julie Robinson-Kurtz, Chicago 
“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 [2011, 2012]
"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, England [2011, 2012]
“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 [2011, 2012]
“I wouldn’t change anything! I’m very tired, but very happy. Friday to Monday feels an excellent length; time to learn and practice.”Jennifer Clark, Edinburgh, Scotland 
It’s hard to believe that in just three short weeks Brenda and Felicity will be welcoming knitters to Beggar’s Reach in beautiful Pembrokeshire and getting started on another long weekend filled with creativity and exploration designed to push knitters out of…Continue Reading
Gwlana (the Welsh word for woolgathering) was founded by fibre enthusiasts who loved both knitting and Wales in equal measure. We dreamt of world-class knitting event, something special enough to bring knitters from all over the world to Wales, and then set about trying to create it. We found a small hotel in a beautiful setting, with great food and excellent service. The type of place where, when you ask for things, people bring you those things with a smile. We created a series of classes based on techniques so we could share our current knitting obsessions. And then we invited people to join us in Wales to learn new things about knitting, in an informal setting. Come to Wales, we said. Bring your knitting, we said. And they did.
At first an annual event, Gwlana has evolved to host twice-yearly knitting weekends, and a variety of one-off special events. Our autumn 2015 knitting weekend takes place in October one of the months we always recommend when anyone asks, "When is a good time to visit Wales?” It's held in west Wales, a place of stunning natural beauty, home to Britain's only coastal National Park, and a world tourism destination known for it's pristine beaches, and abundant wildlife.
We’re now planning a new event; something special for May 2016. Something bigger. And a little wilder. (Privately, we’ve been calling it “woolstock”, though that’s not its official name.) We’re not quite ready to announce our 2016 plans yet, but do sign up for our mailing list if you’d like to be amongst the first to know.
Gwlana weekends are special. People who come to Wales for Gwlana, keep coming back. For the camaraderie that develops between knitters from countries all over the world, who all speak the international language of two-sticks-and-a-string. For the creative energy that carries us through our long weekend together. And, of course, for the knitting.
feel free to get in touch