Good morning and happy…Sunday! Yes, Sunday. I do apologize for my absence and divergence from the “normal” day that I publish a blog post. This past week and this weekend have been somewhat hectic around this here, but more about that in a bit.
Last weekend was the 11th Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat and this even just gets better and better every year. At each retreat I attend there are always at least a couple of guys who I have only known online though Facebook or Ravelry, and being able to make a personal connection with someone that I have only known online is one of the aspects of the retreat I treasure the most.
This year we had seem to have had more attendees who had either never been to a men’s knitting retreat before or who had at least never been to the spring retreat here in New York before, and among them were a few guys who are relatively new to knitting (they have been knitting a year or less). It is this mix of new and veteran retreat attendees that contribute so much to making this retreat as special as it is. The supportive, nurturing, and encouraging environment and the sense of brotherhood that this retreat resonates with us retreat veterans as much today as it did the first time we attended, and we truly enjoy helping to create that same atmosphere so that our new guys.
As with past retreats, there were a number of workshop offerings throughout the weekend including cast-on techniques, double knitting, shadow knitting, crochet, knitted embellishments, weaving, and more. All of our workshops are voluntarily led by retreat attendees, and some require homework before the retreat. As always I don’t take as many pictures as I intend to, but here are some of the pictures I took of some of the workshops that took place throughout the weekend.
Our spring retreat always includes at least one organized field trip. This year we had two. On Friday afternoon we visited Battenkill Fibers in Greenwich. We have taken groups from the retreat to this mill several times in the past, and will likely continue to visit again at future retreats. I know that for me, seeing the process of turning dirty smelly fleeces into beautiful yarn never gets old, and I heard guys who have visited this and other mills before say the same thing.
On Saturday morning a group of guys visited Foster Sheep Farm in Schuylerville for an indigo dyeing workshop. I missed out on this one because of a commitment to a rehearsal session that morning with the Albany Gay Men’s Chorus. The guys had a great time at their dyeing workshop and I got to see what all the guys brought to dye.
The last day of the retreat is always bittersweet as we say goodbye (for now) to our brothers in yarn and return to our “civilian” lives. For many (if not all) of the guys at the retreat, and I heard this from many of our new guys, this retreat recharges them and their love for the craft and we return home inspired in a way that would not be possible without an event like this. It truly is an amazing feeling to come home with and I am so thrilled to be a part of it.
The interest in the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat has built up so much over the last few years that we have sought ways to try and expand or extend it to allow more guys to participate. Space and housing limitations are the one of the major barriers to expanding the spring retreat, but the biggest barrier is that planning and organizing the event becomes infinitely more challenging, and the retreat begins to lose its intimate atmosphere when we exceed the numbers that we have tried to stick with in the past. Having considered all that, we felt the best way to expand would be to offer a second retreat at another time of year, and the North East Men’s Fall Knitting Retreat was born.
Another reason the spring retreat is such a successful event is Easton Mountain Retreat Center itself. The quiet, serene, and somewhat rustic setting is perfect for this retreat, and I’m thrilled that they are able to host us for the fall retreat. The food at Easton Mountain is always very good, and this year it was downright fantastic and I hope the same chef and kitchen staff is still there when we return in the fall.
If you have been on the fence about whether or not to attend a Men’s Knitting Retreat, we still have a number of open slots for the fall retreat and I encourage you to give us a try and register to attend (click the link above to register). You’ll be glad you did, and I’m certain it won’t be your last men’s knitting retreat.
That’s all I have for now. It’s much cooler today than it has been all weekend so I’m looking forward to doing some outside work today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and have a safe and happy Memorial Day.
3 thoughts on “Another successful Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat”
You always describe beautifully the inexplicable quality of things like the retreat. Can’t wait to start building a new history of the Men’s fiber community in September.
I live in Columbia,SC. I was wondering if you knew of any men’s knitting groups or retreats in SC?
Hi Christopher, unfortunately I don’t know of any groups in your area that meet regularly throughout the year. We do have a Southeast Men’s Knitting Retreat which is usually held in November and has been in South Carolina in years past, although last year’s was in North Carolina.
There are also Facebook groups for each of the regional retreats as well as several men’s knitting groups. I’m sure there are guys in those groups who may be able to give you more info about any other men’s knitting gatherings in your area.