2002 KR Retreat Wrap-up:
Notes from Graves Mountain Lodge
porch knitting

Virginia's fall foliage had been delayed by several weeks and was near its peak when we arrived. Clouds that had threatened rain earlier in the week cleared to reveal a bright clear sky, giving us only a brief rainfall on Sunday morning. Balmy temperatures replaced the area's normally nippy November weather, making porch-sitting conditions ideal.

In other words, it was as if the fates had conspired to give us two and a half extraordinary days together for the first official gathering of Knitter's Review readers.

Over the course of three days, 49 knitters, four shop owners, a knitwear designer, and a surprise international knitting celebrity descended upon Graves' Mountain Lodge in Syria, Virginia. Abundant tales, tips, and techniques were shared, peers taught peers, and the overabundance of laughter (and food) left us exhausted by the end.

Where We Were
The entrance to Graves' Mountain Lodge Graves' Mountain Lodge is located at the foothills of the Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The main lodge itself The lodge itself was built in the 1960s. The owner's son joked that the building was designed to serve as a barn if the inn proved unsuccessful. Fortunately for us, this never came to pass.
the view from our rooms Our rooms were comfortable, clean, standard hotel-style rooms. But the real attraction was the view from each room, which overlooked the entire valley below. Deep porches spanned the width of both buildings, with comfortable rocking chairs always within reach.
Let the Fun Begin
the welcome team Martha, a longtime KR reader and forum member, staffed our registration table and helped make everyone's arrival effortless and welcoming.

As people arrived on Friday afternoon, the retreat unfolded almost as if by magic. One event or conversation led to the next, always accompanied by women's voices talking and laughing and the quiet undertone of clicking needles.

The Agenda
Our original goal was to walk everyone through the entire process of assembling an EPS sweater, including all the tricky spots that could otherwise lead to frustration when we got back home. To do this, we had everyone make miniature sweaters. And to make things especially fun, I ordered bears (sporting the KR logo on a ribbon) to wear our sweaters.

goodie bags Each person was given a bear at registration, along with several goodies donated by Carodan Farms, Stony Mountain Fiberarts, and the Knitter's Review Boutique. Little did I know how much fun these bears would be.

On Saturday morning we were joined by 12 more participants, including Annie Modesitt, whose designs have been featured in Interweave Knits.

Bess helps Kathy Bess Haile, KR reader, forum member, and teacher extraordinaire, led our workshop. The subject: Elizabeth Zimmermann's foolproof technique for designing a sweater to fit the exact proportions of your body (also called the EPS, or Elizabeth's Percentage System).

She patiently walked us through short rows, phony seams, attaching sleeves, decreasing at the yoke, etc. Each step of the way, she paused to help and make sure nobody was left behind.

Carodan Farms setting upWhile we headed upstairs for lunch, Caroline and Dan of Carodan Farms set up a mobile yarn shop in our meeting room. Their shop was instantly swamped as soon as it opened, and it remained so for more than two hours. But the fun was only half over!

Their stock depleted, Caroline and Dan eventually began to dismantle their shop. At the same time, they helped Barbara Gentry set up hers.

She brought bags of luscious spinning fibers as well as spindles, swifts, wheels, books, and other items. All of these goodies -- and Barbara's patient expert teachings -- awaited guests upon their return from dinner.

But before we even made it upstairs for dinner, there was a stir at the door as we were joined by two unexpected guests: Rowena Kitt, proprietor of Yorkshire Dales Knitwear in Warrenton, Virginia; and Irish knitwear designer Maggie Jackson, of MaggiKnits designs. A pleasant surprise indeed!

Too Much of a Good Thing?
dinnertime Dinner at Graves' Mountain Lodge -- or any meal, for that matter -- is an event to behold. Everyone is seated together family style at long tables in a large dining room reminiscent of an old summer camp. All that was missing was the requisite round of "You Are My Sunshine" after dessert.
Endless bowls of food are passed from person to person, first spinach, then macaroni and cheese, then black-eyed peas, then roast beef, then carrots, and then biscuits, and it goes on and on and on beyond anything I'd ever experienced.


Sunday's schedule was intentionally left open so that people could either relax, knit, and talk or take an hour-long hayride after breakfast.
heading to the hayridethe bold adventurers
Those of us who braved the brief showers were rewarded with a refreshing -- if not bumpy -- ride through the countryside to view the gorgeous fall colors.

Ta-daa! By the end of the retreat, many people had finished their bear sweaters and we were ready for a photo shoot. Unfortunately, our Saturday guests had already left, so what you see here is only a sampling of the bear attire we created.
all the bears

Not to be outdone by our bears, we then gathered on the grass in front of the lodge to have our pictures taken.
And then, just as quickly as we'd arrived, it was time for us to part. People kept saying, "I'll see you next year," as we hugged goodbye.