Wednesday, November 09, 2005

On the Road & the Retreat

Wednesday, 11/2

Okay, I've got my stuff packed up, my iPod loaded and charged (it's a 6 1/2 hour drive down to VA) the bills paid (oops, this will cut back on any shopping impulses) and the paper stopped. I'm on my way to the Knitters Review Retreat in Syria, Virginia. This is the fourth year, and there are always folks to re-connect with, close friends to see, and new people to meet and get to know.

This year I'm teaching a session on Toe Up Socks, and I have all of my handouts ready, along with lots of samples, both large and small socks. I will also be taking a spinning wheel and extra fiber, in case there are any people that can be lured into the Dark Side.

"Pssst- hey there, little knitter, want to try your hand at a machine that makes yarn?"

My New Beginnings project? Still haven't decided, maybe a Lady Eleanor entrelac shawl, maybe a cozy live-in-it-all-winter sweater, maybe a lace cardigan that I fell heavily for at Stitches East (who wouldn't fall for a cashmere lace cardigan, but the pattern is nice on it's own, too).

The leaf color is late here, so I'm hoping that it will be a pretty fall season in the Blue Ridge Mountains, most of the leaves were gone last year at this time.

Tuesday, 11/8

The Retreat is history now, and lots of the attendees have already blogged. I am slow because my home computer is not the fastest at uploading pictures, but of course now all I have to do is fill in the blanks of my own experiences, and add some photos.

I do agree with
B, it is always different to be on staff at an event rather than just be an attendee. At the KR Retreat I was teaching, and also helping out Jen when needed in her booth Saturday. That meant that what with setting up a classroom, teaching, helping to set up Spirit Trail, weighing and discussing fiber, and helping to break down the booth, I was on my feet for most of Saturday - but it was a great day, even with sore feet! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The drive down was, well, a long drive, though through very beautiful fall scenery. (I drove down 81 through PA, MD, W VA instead of 95, interstate from h***) Arrived at Graves just in time to join everyone at the table for lunch, starting off the weekend in the way it would continue, with good Southern home cooking.
Graves Mountain Lodge:

Wearing its fall colors, with the front porch as welcoming as always. For the first time I was not staying up the hill in one of the "motel"-type buildings, but in the Old Farmhouse:
where I had one of the upstairs rooms, complete with chinked-log walls. It was a fairly level walk to the lodge from here, which is saying a lot at Graves, known for being built on a hillside.
It's hard to describe how lovely it is to be at a knitting retreat (this one has a lot of spinning going on as well) if you haven't experienced it. Surrounded by old and new friends, making and renewing connections, no responsibilities from back home (did I mention that there are no phones or TV's in the rooms, and cell phones and blackberries don't work here?), wonderful yarns and fibers, and people cooking for you - it doesn't get much better.
Anyway, Friday was dyeing with Jen of Spirit Trail
Jimmye and Kathleen
Jen loading up the steam pots-
And then on Friday afternoon the rest of the attendees arrived and settled in
Saturday dawned with a beautiful autumn sky
Then Clara gave a great presentation on the characteristics and suitability of various fibers and spinning processes of commercial yarns.
The teaching sessions were immediately after lunch. I was very happy with the results of my session, everyone was great, and I was happy to see that most were excited to learn new techniques. My best individual comment was from Rebecca, who said that it was a "paradigm shift" for her in the knitting of socks. My observation on Saturday night and Sunday morning is that there were people trying out some of the things that I had taught on new projects, and that always makes any teacher feel good about their teaching.
Saturday night was another evening of conversation, sharing skills, knitting, spinning, drinking wine or the beverage of one's choice, and generally enjoying the gathering. (the empty chair is where I was sitting)
Sunday and goodbye's came all too soon, and now the countdown for next year starts. This may be the last year we are at Graves, because we have pretty much outgrown the facilities, so I will end with another couple of shots of trees and the sunset (hey, A, how is it that we both took the same sunset picture?).