The 2007 Knitter's Review Retreat
Seven Hills Inn
November 8-11, 2007
At the first Knitter's Review Retreat, some people came with a friend or two, but most of us came alone to spend the weekend with people we'd never met face to face before.
Very quickly we got familiar with each other. As we put faces to Forum names, we realized we were in safe and wonderful company.
Six years later, many of those initial connections have grown into lasting friendships that hinge on the annual retreat—and yet we also welcome new people. The retreat may have nearly doubled in size, but the collective spirit of community prevails.
Over the Hills
To expand from 49 to 90 attendees requires some logistical adjustments, which is why this year's retreat was moved to the spacious Seven Hills Inn
in Lenox, Massachusetts. It was our most elegant setting yet, but not so elegant that we couldn't take over the place, take off our shoes, and make it our own for the weekend.
The first order of business was to start stuffing the goody bags. We had lots of goodies to put in the bags—needles from Lantern Moon
, yarns from Webs
, Classic Elite
, Naturesong Yarn
, Spirit Trail
, and String Theory Yarn
, a sock book from Sixth & Spring
, an audiobook from Knitting Out Loud
, assorted journals and notepads from Potter Craft
, and of course some knitting-themed notecards from yours truly
. I enlisted the help of early Thursday extension arrivals and we made swift progress. Soon all the bags were packed and ready for their recipients. To my happy surprise, area yarn shop Colorful Stitches
also had its own gift bags placed on all the guest pillows before we arrived.
The first folks to arrive were the Thursday extension attendees. Space was limited to 20 people, most of whom had already met in previous retreats. A comfortable family atmosphere prevailed.
We sat down for an intimate dinner, after which Shelia January talked us through a tantalizing assortment of fiber-related photographs she'd taken during a recent trip to Sweden. (I'll confess to making at least one Swedish Chef
impersonation that evening.)
Meanwhile a group of locals were in the ballroom for their weekly dance night. The upbeat live music was infectious—soon an impromptu jitterbug broke out in our stash lounge.
Let the Learning Begin
The next morning after breakfast, Shelia began her workshop on Swedish colorwork in the Bohus tradition. Much attention was given to the work of Solveig Gustafsson
and her counterpart on this continent, Susanna Hansson
We looked at samples, we passed around books, and then—fun fun fun!—we cast on for our very own knitted headbands. (Mine is, alas, the one on the needles—the finished one was completed by Shelia.)
Then it was time to relax, have lunch, and work on our headbands while the weekend retreat folks began to stream in.
By evening the entire group had arrived, unpacked, and come back to the main lodge for dinner. As you can imagine, 90 happy knitters make quite a lot of noise!
This is what our main ballroom looked like before we all went in for the Friday night show-and-tell. I'll let you guess how long things stayed this orderly.
Show and Tell
Friday night kicks off with introductions and show and tell. To accommodate the larger group and keep things moving, I passed around a basket from which each person picked a knitting-related question designed to reveal something about his or her knitterly traits. What people say at the retreat stays at the retreat, but here are some of the items people showed us.
For starters, we had many gorgeous lace specimens—many inspired by last year's show and tell.
Including a rather painful lesson about not leaving one's shawl where an eager dog can get his teeth into it. (Here's what the shawl looked like back in June
We had some pretty impressive colorwork as well.
We actually got to meet the intended recipient of this gorgeous Dale sweater. He was on site all weekend taking care of their baby.
A mother and daughter displayed this incredible blanket they lovingly knit as a wedding present for a son/brother (respectively).
A gorgeous Kauni cardigan. What you don't see in this picture is the almost-complete second
Kauni she was knitting in another colorway.
And in the "lessons learned" category, we were given a pretty clear example of why gauge really does
Continuing a tradition she began at last year's retreat, Terry Winer recited one of her knitting poems—this one titled The Stash
At breakfast the next morning I got a chance to catch up with our youngest attendee. Such impressive colorwork! I couldn't knit nearly as well when I was his age.
Before we split into our different classes, everybody went outside for a quick group photograph. Introducing the Class of 2007!
Then the morning classes began. Pam Allen addressed an eager group of lace students.
And Shelia January addressed an equally eager group of Swedish colorwork students.
To Market We Go
This year we were fortunate enough to be joined by not one, not two, not even three, but six, count 'em six
vendors for the marketplace. Jen Heverly drove up from Virginia with a trailer full of Spirit Trail Fiberworks
yarns, while Kathy Goldner offered audiobooks from her new company Knitting Out Loud
From nearby Springdelle Farm, Barbara Parry brought her gorgeous Foxfire Fiber and Designs
yarns, kits, and patterns.
Deb Sano and her husband (nicknamed Mr. Wonderful) brought goodies from their Great Barrington shop Wonderful Things
. And, by lucky serendipity, we discovered that one of the Seven Hills employees has a sheep farm with her parents. She brought fleece, roving, and yarn from their Sugar Maple Farm for display and sale in the marketplace.
And last but not least, on display were Knitter's Review notecards, gift enclosures, and holiday cards as well as copies of my new book
A line of people patiently waited for us to open the marketplace doors at 2pm sharp. We did, and the next three hours people spent enjoying skein after skein of yarn and other goodies.
By this time the stash swap area (dubbed the Stash Lounge) in another section of the inn was overflowing with yarns, all of which had been organized by type for ease of navigation.
The table of charity projects grew bigger and bigger by the hour.
That evening after dinner, Barbara Parry gave a presentation about how she came to tend a flock of Cormo and Border Leicester sheep on 220 acres in western Massachusetts. I've long been a fan of Barbara's blog
and enjoyed seeing her pictures and hearing her inspiring story firsthand.
After dinner and Barbara's presentation, the group was given free reign of the ballroom. Chairs were pulled into smaller circles where people talked and laughed and worked on various projects.
Here we have an impromptu spinning lesson being taught on one of the three wheels that Webs
loaned us for the weekend.
The Home Stretch
On Sunday morning after breakfast we regrouped in the ballroom. Last year's attendees got the letters they had written to themselves, and everybody was handed paper and envelopes on which they could write a new letter for the coming year. The contents of the letter are entirely up to each person—they can be a grocery list of knitterly to-dos, an introspective look at their broader lives, or anything in between.
Each person was asked to bring materials for a special project for themselves—called a New Beginnings project. Once our letters were written, we all cast on our projects together. Those who felt comfortable doing so were encouraged to swap cast-on stitches with the people they'd met over the weekend as a way to impart good luck in the project. It's wonderful to envision a project embodying the goodwill of 90 other knitters.
And then, just as quickly as it all began, we'd finished lunch and Jen had opened up the doors of her Spirit Trail trailer for the traditional retreat rite of closure, her tailgate sale.
I was pleased to see that Lou, our happy stasher
from last year, was up to her same old tricks.
People packed up their cars and, one by one, said their goodbyes.
Same time next year!
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