a trip to knitting heaven

Friday arrived so David and I drove down to Struan Farm.

Fall colours were everywhere.

It looks like middle earth in this part of the country, and coincidentally, they were filming Peter Jackson’s Hobbit in the vicinity recently.

Here’s how Struan Farm looked when we arrived late on an autumn afternoon.


I think it’s agreed that we all love sheep. During the weekend I learned some important facts about them that escaped me back in childhood when I was tending to Bunty, my pet lamb.

Romney sheep (which these are) can have difficulty giving birth so may need help. I mention this because all the sheep you see here are pregnant, mostly with twins. Note to self: return to Struan Farm soon after lambing has occurred.

Sheep are perfectly fine with posing when you’re at a distance, but come closer and they’re off at a gallop, or maybe it’s just me. They obviously didn’t get the memo that I don’t eat lamb. [I tried for an evening to upload a video here – wordpress, I’ve had it with you – to no avail so you can click here to see those sheeple skedaddling]

Struan farm is a beautiful place set amongst rolling hills.  We stayed in the cottage, which is charming and cozy, perched on a knoll with acres of green to be seen out of every window. Little touches of Karen’s thoughtfulness are everywhere:

Candles made with vintage creamers on the bathroom window ledge


 She has decorated the homestead with knitting memorabilia.

Karen plans to host knitting retreats in future. Watch this space.

There was great relief on Saturday when we woke to sunshine.

Clifford the family dog, watching the proceedings from his temporary exile.

Just a few of the 75 knitters and fibre artists who attended.

Please remind me to try for the elegance displayed by this woman in her poncho

 You can take your spinning anywhere

I wish I’d had time to learn everyone’s name

On the left is Julie, of the Riverdale Alpaca Stud and Fibre Mill.

Do not be fabulous in red high-heeled Mary Janes (with shorts and tights) and expect to avoid my camera

Karen and John, our gracious hosts


An important part of the feast: cup cakes decorated with yarn balls

Inside the homestead

My friend Marian looking positively Bloomsbury with her sharp bob and black stockings


 Hand made everywhere. Who said sheep have to grow wool?

In the cottage bathroom, there was a picture on the wall with a quote from Mae West: “when in doubt, take a bath”.

I’d like to add to that: when in doubt, paint your front door black. It’s always elegant.


This was the most beautiful book event I’ve ever attended, and it was for my own book! A big thank you to Karen and to all the lovely people who joined us.

Karen and the caterers relaxing after the knitters had left.

David is ready for his next trip to middle earth, with or without a crowd of knitters. He didn’t want to leave.

19 Responses to “a trip to knitting heaven”

  1. Rachel Says:

    What a lovely event! Everyone looks so calm. Is that because you’re in New Zealand?

  2. Karen from Struan Farm Says:

    thanks Mel, what a lovely post about a wonderful day! Of course the knitters turned out to meet you and get “Knitting Everyday Finery,” and no one went home disappointed. (We won’t talk about the tote bags full of yarn, will we? Knitters are good at keeping stash secrets.)

  3. Marian Says:

    It was indeed a trip to knitting heaven. Gracious hosts, yummy food and of course gorgeous wool to feast upon. Your book is a real inspiration to us knitters, Mel. Thank you.

  4. Marilyn Says:

    It was everything you said and more! What a beautiful atmosphere for knitters to gather for an event like this. I loved it! Mel, your book is beautiful.

  5. KarenJ Says:

    I want to go to New Zealand! Here I am stuck in a heat wave in southern Portugal watering everything everyday to keep it from dying and not a decent yarn store anywhere in the country. And there are you with sheep, wool and absolutely gorgeous trees and lawns!

  6. Mel Says:

    Hi Karen,
    What are you doing in Portugal? You would have laughed to see the weather the day after the event. It was a real NZ downpour. Can’t have the green without the rain, can we?

  7. Megan Says:

    That looks absolutely magical, I do hope there are knitting retreats the in the future.

  8. Catherine Says:

    Hi Mel

    I’ve just purchased your new book and it’s fabulous….thanks so much for all the work you put into it. The introduction had me in tears. How about a book signing in the South Island?

  9. Blanca Says:

    Hi Mel, what a beautiful event! everything is full of details and the place looks like heaven as you said, I wish I ‘d been there. Congratulations on your new book, I only find a word to describe it: exquisite.

  10. Mel Says:

    Catherine, Thank you for your kind words. I would LOVE to do a book signing in the South Island. Any ideas?

    Blanca, Thank you! Wish you’d been there too!

  11. Catherine Says:

    I feel I am one of the few who unashamedly knit in the South Island! so can’t promise such a good turnout for a book signing down South; give me a bit of time and I shall ask at my local craft store, Hands. I just adore your book, you are so talented.

  12. Gina diroma-Edwards Says:

    David looks right at home. You have to come for a trip to Santa Monica so I can introduce you to my cool musician hubby. I think he and David would hit it off! Looks like a great afternoon! -gina

  13. Mel Says:

    Catherine, I’m sure there are knitters hiding somewhere in the South Island;)
    Hands is such a good name for a craft store!

  14. Toni Toland Says:

    Wow. What a great experience.

    I’ve knitted a few things from one of your books – the santa cruz hoodie several times (one for my LA daughter who gets mega compliments!).

    My mom’s maiden name was Strachan, pronounced “strawn.” Wonder if there’s a connection?

    Thank you!

  15. Mel Says:

    I’m gratified to hear the Santa Cruz Hoodie was a success for you.
    Sounds like the two names probably come from the same place way back in the past.

  16. Marianne Says:

    Such a wonderful retreat! I found your post through Susan B. Anderson’s blog. I cannot wait to have your book! Heck both of them! I am ordering the first as soon as I sign out and get to Amazon! Such beautiful designs, I know friends and family will love having them as gifts.

  17. Mel Says:

    Marianne: thanks for visiting! I love Susan. Hope you enjoy my book.

  18. Jenni Swenson Says:

    What an amazing day! You have a beautiful blog.. I’m always thrilled to find knitting bloggers!

  19. Polly Says:

    Hahaha that’s an amazing shot of David, love the Autumnal colours in the scarf! It looks like knitters paradise indeed, the attention to detail is impressive!

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