top of page
  • Writer's pictureSzilvia Burrows

A knitting Retreat at Lumb Bank

I had the absolute pleisure to help out Machine Knit Community (my part time job) on their first annual knitting retreat. It was located at Lumb Bank writers retreat, Heptonstall, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.

The Ted Hughes Arvon Centre, Lumb Bank is an 18th-century millowner’s house in West Yorkshire, which once belonged to Ted Hughes.

'Arvon was founded in 1968 by two poets, John Moat and John Fairfax, with the original aim of providing time and space away from school for young people to write poetry.

The first residential course was run in a community centre in Devon, for a group of 16-18 year olds from a range of Devon schools. Totleigh Barton in Devon became Arvon’s first centre in 1972.

In 1975 Arvon began running courses at Lumb Bank near Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. This was the former home of Ted Hughes. Ted Hughes was a guest on this first course, and played an important role in the subsequent growth of Arvon into a national creative writing organisation. In 1980, in order to raise funds for Arvon he established the Arvon International Poetry Competition. That year his fellow judges were Charles Causley, Philip Larkin and Seamus Heaney. The competition featured on the South Bank Show and received over 36,000 entries. It was won by future poet-laureate Andrew Motion.

From the outset it was the founders of Arvon’s belief that an Arvon Centre was a ‘Freehouse of the Imagination’, and as such didn’t belong to, but was owned by anyone and everyone who opened themselves to being part of its life.

In 1999, with the help of an Arts Council grant, Arvon acquired The Hurst, the former home of playwright John Osborne, in Shropshire. Arvon also ran courses between 1993 and 2014 at Moniack Mhor near Inverness, Scotland.


Some of you may know now, I started a freelance job for Machine Knit Community as Community Manager this summer. Along with helping members with their knit related questions, onboarding on the MKC platform when they join, I also organise and schedule workshops, events, articles and create graphics for events.

Who are Machine Knit Community? The Machine Knit Community is an online space for machine knitters of all abilities to develop skills, habits & rituals to get the most from our machines so that we can inspire, motivate and learn from each other, founded by Nic Corrigan (author of Machine Knitting Techniques: Fair Isle book).

I was so delighted when this opportunity arose and I thought this is the perfect time to take a little break from production knitting (although I did take several pairs of mittens with me so I could do the ends, I still have so many things to do and finish).

A few snippets of the reboot, where the lovely members were deeply immersed in knitting. Nic (founder of the MKC) has created a project for them based on her own designs, calculations and colour palette. It was amazing to watch the members knitting and socialising together like a big family. I really enjoyed eating together, chatting and getting to know one and another. So many of them were from the US ( I have never been) and enjoyed hearing how life is over there.

I can't wait to take part in the next one!

Since I'm back we're somewhat actively looking for houses in this area, the view has just mesmerised me. This is where I enjoy my life, in a place like Hebden Bridge, and what a perfect place this would be to run workshops from.

One can only hope this dream could become reality one day.


Until next time,

Szilvi x


bottom of page