The retreat officially ran Tuesday through the following Wednesday, but we started early on Monday evening with prosecco and shopping at the amazing Tribe Yarns in Richmond (walking distance to the Petersham Hotel where we met the next day. Milli, the owner, opened just for us!
(Left, everyone oohing and ahhing over Milli’s version of the Cocoknits Belle pattern knit with one skein of Art Yarns Cashmere Ombre.)
We met at the Petersham Hotel in Richmond upon Thames. Most people spent at least one night there - it’s a wonderful hotel overlooking the river!
First stop: The Grey Sheep to select the yarn for our knitting projects! We met with Emma Boyles, founder of The Grey Sheep, to hear how they transformed derelict land and buildings into a successful farm that produces world-class yarn. Since we last visited them, they had imported a mill from Italy. We learned about their entire in-house process; every step from sheep to yarn (except scouring) takes place on the farm.
Next stop: Goodnestone Park, our home for the week! We began with tea and cake in the receiving hall while our bags were delivered to our rooms. Then welcome aperitifs in the drawing room, followed by a welcome dinner in the massive dining room that was bedecked with flowers picked fresh from the estate gardens. Then off to bed for a good night’s rest.
In the morning Julie and Tracy got everyone started with their sweaters. We broke for lunch at the Old Dairy Café, just a few paces from the manor house. Then back to knitting until aperitifs in the library followed by dinner in the great dining room.
Thursday morning began with more knitting, then a trip to the city of Canterbury where everyone was on their own to wander and explore and find lunch. Then back to Goodnestone for aperitifs in the Jane Austen Room (Jane’s brother was married to the family’s daughter and Jane was a frequent visitor to Goodnestone). Then dinner and bed!
We had a luxurious uninterrupted day of knitting with a break to tour the estate gardens with Paul, the head gardener.
We headed to the lovely town of Rye to explore the gorgeous, sweet village - wandering the streets while eating pasties. We of course supported our friends at Merchant & Mills (much fabric was purchased and shipped home!), and new friends at Soap & Salvation.
We stopped at Great Dixter on our way home to tour the home and gardens. The dahlias were as big as our heads! Then it was home again for dinner at the great table in the dining room and a good night’s rest.
Sunday was knitting, knitting, and more knitting! With breaks for walking or biking as desired - or “needed” as the lunch at the Old Dairy Café was massive: Sunday roast with proper Yorkshire pudding, and so many side dishes of vegetables from the estate gardens we could hardly move! We knitted (a few may have napped) and then met for aperitifs in the Jane Austen room, followed by a mere 3-course dinner in the great dining room.
In the morning we knitted, chatted, and went for walks, then departed for a Chef’s Table lunch at The Pig, after which we managed to roll out and wander in their gardens and explore the hotel, every inch of which was charming!
We knitted all morning, breaking for a cooking demonstration by Annabelle. She demonstrated both sweet and savory scones in the envy-inducing manor kitchen.
Wednesday morning we departed Goodnestone for Ightham Mote manor house, a delightful 14th century moated house with beautiful gardens and a fascinating history! From there, it was back to the Petersham in Richmond where we all hugged our goodbyes and scattered - some back home, some on to further adventures. Every single one of us with full hearts and bellies and half-finished sweaters that will forever remind us of our magical week together!