Ten Years of the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat

Good morning and happy Saturday!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the tenth Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat. I missed the first two in 2008 and 2009, so it was my eighth spring retreat. Being the tenth year, it was a bit more of a special event than it usually is for all of the guys who attend, including myself. There was a full 44 guys attending the retreat this year, with a good mix of retreat veterans, first timers, and even a couple of guys who are new to knitting.

We kicked things off on Thursday evening with a fantastic wine and hors d’oeuvres reception sponsored by Easton Mountain which I think kind of set a festive and celebratory vibe for the rest of the weekend, followed by our usual introductory meeting to cover all the things our attendees need to know about both the retreat and Easton Mountain. This was followed by “Get To Know You Bingo” which had been done at the first few retreats including the first one I attended, and was resurrected for this year’s retreat. I know there are people who think these kinds of icebreaker activities are corny, and to some extent, I agree. This is a fascinating and diverse group of men though, and I really enjoyed learning a little more about the guys who came to this year’s retreat.

The biggest highlight of this year’s retreat for me was getting to meet my friend Philip in person. Philip and his partner live in the Los Angeles area and have two pharaoh hounds, one of whom is the litter mate of my sweet Halo. We have been online friends since shortly after Halo came to us, and we have mutual friends who have pharaoh hounds as well, including other litter mates of our dogs. We both had pharaoh hound related facts about us in the Get To Know You Bingo which made it very interesting for the guys who have known me for a while and familiar with my sweet Halo.

Philip catching up on his knitting at our house before the retreat

Philip is also one of our new knitters who attended this year’s retreat. Myself and a mutual pharaoh hound friend in the San Francisco Bay area who is also a knitter and spinner, have been slowly pushing him down the rabbit hole into knitting. She sees Philip quite regularly at lure coursing events that they bring their dogs to, and has been coaching him with his knitting over the last few months. He had a great time at the retreat, and I hope he can make it again next year.

For the past several years I have been leading a workshop for beginning spinners at the retreat, and this year I decided to pass on that and lead a workshop on blending different fibers and different colors using a drum carder. Being horrible at taking pictures as I am, there are none of my workshop, but I did manage to grab a few shots of other workshops as they were happening.

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During our regular show and tell on Friday evening, I had a little surprise for Joe Wilcox who has been putting this retreat together every year since its inception. Being our tenth year, we wanted to recognize and thank Joe for all the hard work he puts into making this even happen every year. With the help of generous donations from guys who have attended this retreat in the past, we treated Joe to several gift certificates from vendors who have supported the retreats in the past and thank you notes from guys who have attended past retreats, all wrapped up in a beautiful project bag from Fringe Supply Company, and we had enough leftover to make a nice donation to the retreat scholarship fund.

Our official field trip on Saturday morning of the retreat was to the Fiber Kingdom in nearby Salem, NY. I have visited their booth at a couple of the fall fiber festivals many times, and visited the farm and shop last year on the Washington County Fiber Tour. This was a fun excursion for the guys at the retreat and not just for the retail therapy. On past field trips we visited sheep and alpaca farms, and learned about the animals that are raised there. Fiber Kingdom proprietor Sylvia Graham raises Angora rabbits, and so the guys got to learn more about them on this trip.

No retreat is complete without a visit to The Ice Cream Man

As always, Sunday morning was bittersweet as we all prepared to leave the retreat and beautiful Easton Mountain, and return to our everyday lives. It’s hard to say goodbye. Many of us see each other often throughout the year or keep in touch online through Ravelry or Facebook, but it’s just not the same as when we gather together every spring for this annual event that has come to mean so much to so many, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s retreat.

That’s it for this morning. There will be fiber fun in this house at some point this weekend. For now, given that we have some nice weather for the next couple of days, I have a LOT of outside work that I need to tackle, so I better get to it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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