When Knitters Gather:
Knitter's Review Retreat
November 8-11, 2012
Every November for the last 11 years, a group of knitters and I have gathered together for the Knitter's Review Retreat. The group has grown over time from 49 to 116. The number of instructors and vendors and scheduled activities has, likewise, expanded over the years. But the bottom line remains the same: We gather for a weekend of relaxation, inspiration, and friendship, erasing the outside world and indulging in our mutual love of yarn and needles.
We've gathered in a lot of places. First in rural Virginia, in the shadows of the Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Then at a family-run retreat center in Walker Valley, New York. Next, we hit the Berkshires of Massachusetts, first at an allegedly haunted inn in Lenox, and then up the road in Williamstown.
While most of the people have been to the retreat before, 20% of the spots are always reserved for newcomers. They may plunk themselves tentatively at the corner of a group, only to be quickly pulled in.
We have an unspoken pact of approachability that makes us strangers only briefly. "Which yarn is that?" someone asks, touching a shawl. "How'd you do that?" asks another person, now pointing to a sleeve before sitting down to get a better look. By the next morning, friendships have been formed, connections forged.
The days leading up to the retreat can be a frenzy of activity. Some of us work overtime to finish special projects (one person even blocked hers in the car on the way up). Others bake cookies, or make chocolate truffles, or pour sheet upon sheet of our special homemade toffee. We may even bring a six-pack of our favorite beer for after-dinner knitting by the fire.
People come prepared. They've gone through their stashes and weeded out those yarns they no longer believe will ever become a project. They bring them for the stash lounge, where they are promptly (and appreciatively) snatched up by someone else. People even retrieve things for others, wandering through the hotel with a skein (or two, or a bag of yarn) to show a friend in the dining room.
Yarns come and go and come back again—and go again—throughout the course of the weekend. Remaining yarns are hand-delivered to Interim House, while the books and magazines go to the local library.WEBS to send us more yarns to make yet more hats and blankies during the retreat, they respond with a huge box of yarn.
Our goody bags are stuffed with gifts of yet more yarn and books and gadgets from Berroco, Classic Elite Yarns, Westminster Fibers, Tahki Stacy Charles, Lorna's Laces, Among Friends, Spirit Trail Fiberworks, Peace Love Yarn, Harper Collins, and The Kangaroo Dyer.Ann Budd, Sivia Harding, Amy Herzog, and Mary Scott Huff. They teach us about things like fixing mistakes, creating our own lace shawls, working with multiple colors, or designing garments that truly flatter our figures—things every knitter ultimately longs to know. Spirit Trail Fiberworks, Briar Rose Fibers, String Theory Yarn, Kathryn Alexander, Peace Love Yarn, and Three Bags Full.
In the marketplace we indulge in hours of uninterrupted yarn-touching, enjoying the luxury of really being able to think about each yarn's ideal use. Not only that but we can walk over to Ann Budd for confirmation that such-and-such yarn would be right for a top-down sweater. Or tap Sivia Harding on the shoulder to see if a yarn would be good for lace, or run a colorwork palette by Mary Scott Huff, or show Amy Herzog a sweater in a book and ask, "Would this be right for me?"
Everyone, teachers and students alike, falls prey to the lure of the yarn.
And everywhere else? More knitters. Talking, laughing, being silly or sincere.
Knitters enjoying a quiet moment, or grabbing a group hug.
It's almost like we've created our own parallel universe in which knitting is the complete norm—where there are no hurricanes or super storms or nor'easters, and where someone prepares our food and makes our beds and plumps our pillows every night, while all we do is relax. A universe that's populated with kind, smart, funny, interesting people from all walks of life, all of whom are quite happy to be with one another, even if they've only just met.
We end with a group cast-on designed to capture the goodwill of the weekend within our stitches. Some people swap stitches for good luck.
The next Knitter's Review Retreat will take place November 7-10, 2013, at the Inn on the Lake in Canandaigua, NY. If you'd like to be notified when event and registration details are available, simply subscribe to our retreat notification list by filling out the fields below.
Thank you! I hope to see in 2013.Comments
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