Several years ago I spent a wonderful weekend with a group of fellow designers at Susan Crawford’s farm in northern Lancashire. The group included Hélène Magnússon, a lovely lady with both French and Icelandic nationality with whom I felt a great rapport. Like mine, Hélène’s knitting business is firmly rooted in her local heritage, in her case as an Icelandic native. She founded an online knitting magazine that celebrates Iceland’s knitting traditions, has her own line of Icelandic wool knitting yarns, and leads Icelandic Knitting Tours. I found the idea of running knitting tours particularly inspirational, and so over the weekend I chatted with her about whether or not I could similarly create heritage-focused knitting tours here in Yorkshire. With its rich knitting heritage, surely Yorkshire should be a mecca for knitters in the same way as Iceland, Shetland and Estonia?
Ever since that weekend I have intended to put together a Yorkshire Knitting Tour. However, it took the experience of putting together and leading a French knitting holiday, at the lovely Manzac d’en Bas, to push me into action. The hosts there had approached me and asked me to lead a knitting holiday for them, and during the holiday I shared with them my vision for a Yorkshire Knitting Tour. They keenly encouraged me to do it, offering lots of advice about how to go about it, and so with their advice and with my dear sister’s wonderful zeal for planning, I finally got started.
The first need was accommodation. I wanted accommodation in a rural Dales location that offers full board catering and has conference rooms suitable for teaching knitting classes. After looking at many hotels and rejecting them as unsuitable I remembered visiting the gardens of a beautiful Elizabethan manor that operates as a retreat centre for the Church of England. I looked up their website and found that they do also host activity holidays, and so I contacted them and made a booking for a group knitting holiday. Oozing with Elizabethan charm, and perfectly situated in a sparsely inhabited and picturesque Dales valley, Parcevall Hall is the ideal base for a group of knitters who love heritage experiences. If you are thinking of joining me for this holiday, take a look at the gallery on their website to whet your appetite!
After securing accommodation for the tour, everything else began falling into place. Marie and I have spent many happy hours crafting the programne for the week, going on recces to places we intend to visit during the tour, contacting knitting historians with relevant specialisms, researching Yorkshire’s Victorian knitting authors, and purchasing antique books and artefacts to show to our guests. We have even identified sources of traditional Yorkshire bakes for afternoon snacks when out and about on the excursions. The tour will be a fully immersive Yorkshire experience!
I have now finalised the webpage for the tour, which sets out the full programme for the week, the varying accommodation options, and the tour prices. I invite you dear reader to read it and consider booking your place on a special pilgrimage for knitter’s, Ann Kingstone’s Yorkshire Knitting Tour.