If home is where the heart is, then I suppose it does follow that driving six hours to a place you’ve never seen can be a homecoming.
The location: Canandaigua, New York. The Inn on the Lake to be precise, for my sixth Knitter’s Review Retreat. Four days sans lunches to pack, calls to field or Sesame Street songs to hear. (The part about disconnecting from work didn’t quite happen at the beginning, as early-morning server failure forced a few minutes of work on arrival, but then, complete and total severance from the World of Work.)
It doesn’t matter whether we are at Jeronimo Resort, the Seven Hills Inn, the Williams Inn or the Inn on the Lake, what matters is that we are together. Me, world’s-best-roommate KnittingKittens, Luann, Bullwinkle, Lanea, Jane, Marfa, Jennifer, Rosi, Nancy, Nanci, Tree and more, led, of course, by Clara, who makes all things possible. This being the tenth anniversary year, the Oscar-worthy swag bags got awfully swanky ~ an official logo and even zippers on top!?!
As for the contents, they could make a knitter’s knees go weak. Knitter’s Pride needles, books, journals, patterns, buttons, coupons, a commemorative coffee mug, and yarn. So much yarn: Classic Elite Kumara, Berocco Comfort Sock, Rowan Sweet Harmony, DirtyWater Dyeworks Julia. At dinner, our plates were graced with even MORE yarn – laceweight Filatura DiCrosa Nirvana, too.
But all that stuff is just ~ stuff. I go to see the people who sustain me the other 361 days of the year. To scooch over on the couch and knit side-by-side instead of conversing in front of a monitor. To touch fiber and compare pattern notes and wonder whether you have enough yardage to make one. To eat a meal in each other’s company. To laugh and laugh and laugh some more.
In a room so full of knitters, some absences weighed heavily. How I missed SandyT and her good sense and laughter. And HappyStasher’s boundless enthusiasm. It’s not the numbers in the room, but the people who make up those numbers that make this gathering what it is. People who care about each other, brought together by a craft. True, we can be rather goofy. At least one new attendee was a little thrown to be asked, “What yarn would you marry if you could?” but it was all in the spirit of good fun.
One of my delights in attending each year is the opportunity to spend time with the knitteratiwho have been so important to this craft. This year, I was tickled to spend my weekend class time with the incomparable Ann Budd. She has forgotten
more about knitting than I will ever know. She also has a better sense of dry humor than most people inhabiting the Earth.
We started on Friday learning the fundamentals of shadow knitting. It’s not the easiest thing to photograph, but in essence, it allows for all sorts of interesting colorwork to appear (and disappear) based on alternation of colors in two-row sequences of garter and stockinette stitch. Those of faint heart with charts, you might want to skip this technique. Or be sure to bring those
cheaters and highlighter tape with you. It was illuminating to see how different color combinations were easier and harder to see – stark contrast versus tonal versus complementary.
All I could think about was how hard it must have been to photograph all the samples for Vivian Hoxbro’s book, much less knit them all!
As always, it seemed like we were fed endlessly, moving from one buffet to the next. I love how the tables all fill in at mealtime, allowing for new friendships to take root even as old ones are reaffirmed. There is always room for one more. And always time for one more row between courses.
On Saturday, Ann took on the challenge of 30 students and the oft-dreaded Kitchener Stitch. Having taught it before, it’s amazing how intimidating some knitters find it. While I have my own way of teaching it, Ann had some utterly common-sense suggestions that had even the most experienced knitters in the room saying, “How did I not know that?” That, my friends, is the mark of a great teacher.
Later, I got to help plan out some upcoming sample knitting, setting up the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth and setting aside what I will be working on in some of the months ahead. Let me tell you know that Holda is not to be missed. This is yummy and cozy: 80% Lambswool / 10% Cashmere / 10% dehaired Angora. It knits up and fills in deliciously at 18-20 st/4 in. There is a largish cowl in the works.
In addition, Jennifer brought out some new colorways in one of her other new yarns, Verdande. V is the most substantial of the now-four sisters with the same fiber makeup – 75% Merino / 15% Cashmere / 10% Silk. (In order, they are Nona, Sunna, Birte and Verdande. If left on a desert island with any of them, I could hardly be disappointed.) Verdande is 4 plies versus the 3 in Birte, and she feels more substantial and “rounder” on the skein. This new colorway is called Tuareg Blue and it is utterly dark and rich. There are other new colorways this season that are equally lovely – Chipotle (seen in Holda photo above), Kismet (green), Winter Solstice (midnight blue), Fig (purples). Catch them while you can. Provided I left any. Cough.
This being the Big 10 event, a mere sparkly tiara simply would not do. So the powers that be made sure that Queen Bee Clara had appropriate headgear for a night walking down memory lane. It was a quick and fun journey, particularly seeing the four earlier years I did not attend, before the retreat moved far enough north for me to not be afraid to go.
Through it all, everywhere you looked, there were busy hands, working quickly, some picking, some throwing, some Continental, some English, some something in-between. There were even some secret projects, but more on those when it is allowed.
And then it was time to leave. All events come to a natural stopping point, and KnittingKittens and I knew instinctively when ours was. A picture texted to me of Darling Bebe on a playground waiting for me was tugging.
Time to return to my other life, and make this one “virtual” again. Until next year’s homecoming, wherever it may be.