Teaching at retreats is a magical experience. To me it's like diving right into the pool, rather than sitting on ledge just dangling your feet in. One of my favorite things about these kinds of events are the groups of people. Some friends meet up every year and it becomes part of their tradition, while others take a chance and fly solo, quickly getting absorbed up by a bunch of knitters happily welcoming them into their group. Sometimes it's a mother/daughter team, each traveling from afar to meet up and knit together. There is throw-your-head-back laughter, tears of joy, eating, hugs everywhere you turn, and my goodness is there knitting!
I was happy to teach at the Lancaster Knitter's Retreat a couple weeks ago in Bird-In-Hand, PA in Lancaster County. My family and I have visited Lancaster County a few times and enjoy the crafts, the beautiful scenery, learning about the Amish, and I'm a total sucker for a handmade soft pretzel. The retreat is put on by Wendy and Bob, owners of the wonderful Lancaster Yarn Shop, a very classy and chic shop tucked right into the heart of the county. It's one of my favorite shops and was right down the way from the retreat hotel. This was the 4th annual retreat and it was sold out!
I love teaching large groups with varying skill levels. As a teacher, there is nothing better than seeing that lightbulb moment students get, watching people sit down with a bit of trepidation and leaving with a confident smile. I love standing next to people in the breakfast line talking about their progress, getting high fives and hugs from someone who thought lace was something they could never grasp, or having folks come by after dinner for a bit of extra help. We're submerged in nothing but knitting and friendship for a few days. Phones are put away, newspapers go unread, and we find ourselves in a delightful and crafty bubble for a brief moment.
One of the classes I taught (one of my favorites) was beaded lace. I designed a retreat-exclusive project for the students and now I'm happy to make the pattern now available to all! Introducing the Coventry Cowl, a beaded garter lace extravaganza. This cowl begins with twisted ribbing and is knit back and forth in rows rather than the round to avoid lots of purling. The design cinches in at the top so the cowl tapers slightly and lays more open once around the neck. The edges are mattress stitched together at the end and after a good blocking, the lace will open up and the beads will twinkle and shine!
I love knitting lace on worsted weight, giving it a more modern look and a bit more substance. This cowl takes 1 hank of Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio Worsted and is knit on US 6 and 8 needles. While any 6/0 beads will do, I'm a fan of Miyuki.
I see this cowl and think of the great time I had teaching 50 amazing students. Each project I design and knit has a story attached to it, a memory, or reminds me of something going on in my life at the time. This cowl reminds me of Lancaster, new friends, soft pretzels, and fond memories.
Download the Coventry Cowl here.