One of the best antidotes to everyday life is a good dose of Yarn Overload. This was proven conclusively this past weekend, as ninety knitters converged on the
Seven Hills Resort in Lenox, MA, for the Knitter’s Review Retreat.
My buddy Mmario and I headed out early on Friday, hoping to have time to visit
Webs before checking in at the Retreat. After only minor amounts of Splinter Ceremonial
Circling, we found the store and started shopping. Mmario had been pondering
a particular shawl design for more than two years, but hadn’t found a suitable yarn for it yet. Almost the first thing he saw when we entered the store was a tencel laceweight yarn in exactly the perfect
colors. Being no fool, he snagged a cone of it immediately, chortling happily.
After looking around a bit, I meandered into the “back room” of the shop, where
all the closeout yarns are displayed. Oh.
My. Talk about overload!
There were tons of gorgeous things in there, at amazing prices. After
a bit of poking around, I happened across the Lavold Silky Tweed that had been calling to me from their web site, and, wonder
of wonders, there it was! One of the staff dug through a bunch of boxes and came
up with enough hanks of the same dye lot to make me a sweater. Needless to say,
this went right into my basket.
After more poking around, I decided I’d had enough, checked out, and
flopped, exhausted, into one of the cushy chairs they keep near the entrance. Mmario
was still shopping – when in the presence of yarn, he has waaaayyyy too much energy!
It boggles my mind a bit that when I left the store, the only things in my bag were things that had been on my “look
for this” list when I entered. How I got out of there without making purchases
based on “ooh, pretty!” I have no idea.
Gotta back up a second – one of the things I had decided to wear that day was
the infamous “Scarfittensock” that Mmario had designed and knit for me. It’s
a long scarf, with a mitten at each end, and a sock hanging off near the middle. Every
single staff member with whom I interacted at Webs was entranced with it, and when I told them that its creator was in the
store, it seems that they all went looking for him, asking, “Did you make that great scarf?”
Heh, I do dearly love braggin’ on my friends!
Side note here: I must mention the wonderful staff at Webs; each and
every one of them went "beyond the call of duty" in helping me find the things I was seeking. Pleasant, helpful, just
After successfully ravaging the stock at Webs, Mmario and I got back on the
road to Seven Hills. The directions we had received were very accurate, and we
found ourselves there with no miscues. The reception staff were very helpful,
and we were soon unloading the car into our room. Someone had apparently thought
we needed to live in a sauna, so the first thing I did was to find the thermostat and turn it down to 70F, while leaving the
door open to cool off.
The retreat tote bag was overloaded with goodies – yarns, books, notepaper,
all kinds of lovely things. Then we entered the ballroom, where knitters and
spinners were already happily at work.
Meeting all these lovely people was one of the best parts of the weekend; such
a lively, friendly, welcoming bunch. One thing I found intriguing was comparing
the people’s real appearances with the mental images I had built up in corresponding with them on the forums. Not one person looked like my mental image.
The sound levels in the ballroom quickly got to the painful level – ninety
knitters excitedly commenting on each other’s projects can get very loud very fast, but it was easy to step into another room
for a few minutes to “decompress.”
The Retreat’s swap lounge was amazing – participants had brought stuff from
their own stashes that they didn’t want, and all of it was sorted by yarn type and (to some extent) fiber content, in a spot
central to all of the function rooms we were using. The adjacent hallway housed
a table holding all the items that participants had made for donation to the Retreat’s chosen charities, so we could all admire
each other’s work.
Those two areas proved to be quite bewildering to several groups of people
touring the resort on Saturday to view the facilities. Somehow they couldn’t
wrap their minds around the idea that people had brought these things to give away to other participants, or to charities. They were also rather taken aback to see a ballroom full of people happily knitting,
spinning, chatting and laughing.
The meals we were served were downright yummy.
The chefs consistently managed to produce great meals that somehow didn’t get mangled by being served in chafing dishes
on a buffet table. Even the french toast stayed perfect – an extremely difficult
Many of the retreat participants had brought handmade treats to share, all
of which were delicious. I think my favorite was the miniature pecan pies, which
were utterly drool-worthy.
Two workshops were offered on Saturday, one by Shelia January on Bohus colorwork,
the other by Pam Allen on lace. Mmario and I both attended the lace workshop,
which was somewhat more basic than we had hoped. In spite of that, we both gained
some understanding of how the relative placement of yarnovers and decreases could affect the appearance of a lace fabric. The sampler we knit during the class will definitely help me in designing future projects.
The Marketplace included several vendors (sorry, brain is spazzing and I cannot
for the life of me remember any of the companies’ names) who had gorgeous yarns and fleeces and rovings to tempt us. Mmario found exactly the right yarn for yet another of his original creations, and
I grabbed some luscious chocolatey brown laceweight, soft as cashmere but 100% wool.
My other important purchase was a copy of The Knitter’s Book of Yarn, by Clara Parkes. This is a solid chunk of book just overflowing with fascinating information about fiber, its sources, processing
and uses. It will be a useful reference for years to come.
Sunday morning’s session was called New Beginnings; each of us was asked to
write a letter to ourselves, to be read next year at the retreat, about our hopes and plans for the coming year, or anything
else we wanted ourselves to remember a year down the road. This was an interesting
exercise, and the letters were sealed into envelopes, collected by Clara, and will be returned next November. After that, each of us cast on a brand-new project. The instruction
was that it should be something for ourselves, perhaps something a bit challenging to our skill level. People wandered around the room, asking others to knit a couple of stitches into their projects. It’ll be nice to remember all those lovely people when I wear the Faroese shawl that I cast on during that
All too soon, the Retreat was over, and we scattered to the four winds. Mmario and I made good time getting home – why is it that the trip back always seems
to go faster than the trip out?
To all the others who were at the Retreat – it was great meeting you and having
a chance to chat with you in person, and I hope we’ll all be able to go back again next year.
Now it’s back to the daily grind.