Dyeing to Unwind, Gite Retreat

This fabulous event has been and gone but there is a future event in the planning – if you would like to be sent details when they are released please email us.

Dyeing to Unwind Gite Retreat 2012 – May 16th to 21st

Dyeing to Unwind is a perfect gite retreat for knitters who like to try out new things, experiment and be with like-minded people whilst getting away from it all. In 2011 we had our first knitting gite retreat and for 2012 we have something very special in mind offering the opportunity not only to knit, enjoy good food, great wine, beautiful scenery and an escape from it all, but also to pick up some new skills.

During your stay in the beautiful Lot region, where it is always the perfect knit temperature, we will have a series of workshops giving you the opportunity to experiment and have fun.

Nestled in the southwest of France, between Bordeaux and Toulouse, the Lot et Garonne has been called the Tuscany of France. The gently rolling hills and valleys of this traditional agricultural region have retained their charm and allure. From ancient farmhouses, barns and pigeonniers to tiny churches, there is something to see from every vista. This is still very much an agricultural environment, and with much of the land organic, offers a haven for wildlife and flowers.

You will stay in a stunning, lovingly restored gite in a magical location, rebuilt using many of the original materials and full of features including a double height oak entrance door, galleried landing, large terrace and swimming pool, with an exclusive party of up to eight guests.

We have discovered the perfect place to take time out to relax and unwind.

Upon arrival, meet the other guests and your hosts over welcome drinks and nibbles, followed by an evening meal.





The first morning will bring the Inspiration Workshop. The group will explore the locality with artist, Suzanne Stallard seeking inspiration from nature and the French landscape. Art materials and sketch books will be provided, but if you’re less than confident about your artistic talents, feel free to take photographs or collect samples from nature.

After a light lunch, you will have the opportunity to translate your colour inspiration onto yarn during the Dyeing Workshop with master dyer, Debbie Orr of Skein Queen. The workshop will take place in a typical French barn and you will have the chance to learn some of the secrets of dyeing beautiful yarn.






Following breakfast will be the Colourwork Workshop with Suzanne Stallard and Debbie Orr. So if you’ve always wanted to know more about stranded colourwork, this is a great opportunity to learn the skill. Or if you’re already experienced in colourwork, this will give you a chance to design and work up a chart using the inspiration and yarn dyed from Day One.

The afternoon session brings a Design Workshop with Suzanne Stallard and Debbie Orr where we will take you through some key points in designing your own small projects and there will be plenty of stitch dictionaries, patterns and ideas to help you along.

By the end of Day Two, you should have all the tools and inspiration you need to have the start of a small project that you’ve designed and dyed the yarn for yourself. Feel free to work on this for the duration of the gite retreat.





On the third day, we plan to venture out to experience a bit more French culture with a visit to local town, Villeneuve sur Lot to explore the market, mercerie and wool shops. Following lunch at a local restaurant, we will visit an angora and mohair farm.





Sunday is for relaxing, chatting and knitting. In the afternoon, we plan to hold a Skein Queen Tea Party with local knitters which will offer the opportunity to brush up on your French, see French knitting techniques, buy Skein Queen yarn, NovaSteel shawl pins, Bombella kits and sample local French cakes!

In summary, your Dyeing to Unwind gite retreat will include:

Return transfers from Agen Railway Station or Bergerac Airport

Full board accommodation for five nights including wine with dinner

Four workshops

Yarn for dyeing and colourwork. All materials necessary for workshops

A visit to the market and shops of Villeneuve sur Lot, lunch at a restaurant and visit to a local angora and mohair farm

Skein Queen tea party with French knitters



Not included


Return transport to South West France – flights or train to Agen/Bergerac airport

(Note: cheap flights to Bergerac can be booked early from flybe or Ryanair or for train travel, you could book Eurostar to Agen via Lille or Paris.)

Travel insurance (recommended).

Please make sure you take an E111 (or equivalent health cover).




Introducing the Dyeing to Unwind Team


Debbie Orr runs Skein Queen, a small independent yarn dyeing business established in 2007. Originally from Scotland, she creates luxury hand-dyed yarn in her royal workshop in deepest Berkshire and has a thriving online business. She loves finding the perfect combination of yarn and colour. Debbie is a long-term knitter and has had patterns published in magazines such as The Knitter, Knitting Collections 1 and 2 and has a self-published booklet called Some Lovely Things to Knit with Skein Queen Yarn. Knitting is a way of life.


Suzanne Stallard (Alabamawhirly) is an artist and knitter, hailing from a long-line of professional knitters. She has been involved in making things all her life and her eye for colour and creativity are embodied in the knitted designs she sells in her Knithappens online shop. Suzanne has exhibited her own work internationally, has a number of knitting pattern designs published, is experienced in teaching craft workshops including knitting and works on a daily basis with artists and individuals through her work as founder of jelly, an arts organisation since 1993.


Rowena Sweeney (billybrown) has lived in the Lot et Garonne since 2003. She has extensive knowledge of the local yarn shops, markets and cuisine. Rowena’s passion for knitting and her brother’s skills in metalwork, led to the creation of NovaSteel, specialising in designing and making shawl pins.


Debbie Heeley (kniteuse) has lived in the Lot for 23 years since regretfully selling her yarn store Wool'nThings in Surrey.  She is an avid knitter when not busy with her day job of being an estate agent.  After this length of time, she has a vast knowledge of the area, language and local culture.  Debbie is never happier than when she is with her knitting friends and enjoying local liquid refreshments.


So why not take advantage of the Earlybirds Yarn-Lovers deal and secure your few days of knitting bliss in the beautiful French countryside. We’d love to have you join us.

Earlybirds Yarn-Lovers deal:


£595pp twin sharing and £648 single.


£650pp twin sharing and £720 single.

If you’re interested in securing your few days of knitting bliss in the beautiful French countryside with a deposit, please contact Skein Queen via her website for a booking form. First come first served.