Report from the 10th-annual
Knitter's Review Retreat in Canandaigua, NY
November 17-20, 2011
When knitters gather under just the right conditions, they can quickly become greater than the sum of their parts. Something happens when we celebrate a side of ourselves that the rest of the world may not always see or appreciate. Everything else is briefly suspended as we allow ourselves the simple pleasure of play.
I've watched this phenomenon unfold for 10 years, beginning with the very first Knitter's Review Retreat and continuing to the 10th retreat, which just took place in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
A Great Gathering
We welcomed 115 knitters from Florida and Washington to Maine, Arizona, nearby Rochester and even the Finger Lakes town of Canandaigua itself (pronounced "cannon-day-gwa").
Over the course of four days we renewed our connections and made new friends, learned from one another, cleaned out and then enhanced our stashes, told stories, laughed ourselves silly, ate plentiful food we didn't have to make, and then collapsed each night in a clean bed that had been made just for us. I ask you, what could be better?
Canandaigua is located at the tip of Canandaigua Lake, just 30 or so miles from the city of Rochester. It's a grand old town with a wide Main Street bordered on either side by storefronts.
Follow Main Street through town and you'll end up at the lake, which is where our story begins. While most of the fall leaves had already come down, a cluster of trees leading to the inn had held on for a few days to welcome us.
The Inn on the Lake is literally on Canandaigua Lake. While the area is quite busy during the summer, things shut down during the winter months.
Nobody minded that the pool was closed because the cold weather meant perfect knitting conditions. And whenever we looked out the back windows, we were greeted with this view.
What did we do all weekend anyway? We began by sorting out all the items that had been donated for the goody bags, so that the bags could be stuffed and ready when people arrived. We had gifts from Dirty Water Dyeworks, Berroco, Rowan, Classic Elite, Filatura di Crosa, Knitter's Pride, Twist Collective, Storey Publishing, Wildwood Publishing, Briar Rose, Knitspot, Spirit Trail Fiberworks, Schaefer Yarn, and Knitter's Review.
Then people began to arrive.
and soon the inn was filled with knitters. There was lots of hugging.
In the evening, Cheryl Schaefer told us all about how she became a hand-dyer, where her color inspiration comes from, and how she views the world.
We set up the stash lounge, where some people's cast-off yarns were tidied up, sorted, and soon become other people's treasures. Every time you went into the room it was a little bit different, and you never knew what you might find.
In another corner of the inn, we converted a conference room into our magical on-site yarn store featuring none other than:
Beautiful Briar Rose Fibers from Michigan
Delicious String Theory Yarn from Maine
Sheepishly fantastic Foxfire Fiber from Massachusetts
New this year, we were joined by Melissa Jean Designs, of New York, featuring a rainbow of gorgeous buttons.
and Julia Hilbrandt, also from New York, brought her exquisite pure wool felted bags.
With so much yarn around, you can imagine we kept the swift and giant ball winder in constant use.
That is, when not goofing off with my new book
or wearing silly costumes.
Three times a day we gathered in the dining room for meals we didn't have to cook.
But that didn't stop us from eating Susan's homemade sheep cookies,
or sampling some very special cider donuts from the area's renowned Schutt's Apple Mill, courtesy of my father,
or tasting some of the local Finger Lakes wines with our chocolate cake. While knitting, of course.
In fact, between meals and sleeping and our daily laps around the lake, we did a lot of knitting. To do so, we took over every corner of the inn, from its very entrance to its lounge, lobby, meeting rooms, and guest rooms. Even the workout room saw a knitter or two (or three) over the weekend.
On Saturday night, I narrated the story of the Knitter's Review Retreat, starting with the very first Forum post about a gathering, our first few years in Virginia, our escapades in New York and later western Massachusetts, and finally our arrival at our new home in Canandaigua.
Then Luann took over as emcee as people were invited to come up and share their retreat stories. Here's Wendy, who knew she was home when she showed this exquisite log-cabin blanket—made from a lifetime of leftover sock yarn—at her first retreat and wasn't met with a room full of raised eyebrows.
Here is Adrienne Martini and the sweater from her book Sweater Quest, which she'd courageously steeked at the retreat several years ago.
And here is Shelia showing the teddy bear whose perfectly fitting sweater—made according to Elizabeth Zimmermann's EPS—was knit at the first retreat.
Those of us who'd been at the retreat for all 10 years received tiaras from Luann. A happy combination of tears, gratitude, and goofiness prevailed.
But mostly? We made new friends, strengthened old friendships, and constantly approached one another with questions of, "Ohhh, what are you making?" or "How did you do that?" And in the process, we smiled. A lot.
Including one big collective smile for the camera.
On Sunday morning, we bottled up all the goodwill from the weekend and put it into new projects, which we all cast-on together.
Too soon, the outside world beckoned us. We said our goodbyes and went back out into the world, a little bit lighter in spirit and happier in stash, until next year.
We'll be returning to the Inn on the Lake in November 2012, exact weekend to be announced. Would you like to be notified when the 2012 details are available? You can subscribe to a special mailing list here.
We'd love to have you!
Read other event reviews
Find a fiber event near you