Good morning and happy Saturday! Last weekend was the third North East Men’s Fall Knitting Retreat, and as far as I know, it is the only other men’s knitting retreat to take place this year since the Rocky Mountain Retreat in February.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure this retreat was going to be able to happen. There were so many uncertainties even as far back as May when we opened registration, but we were hopeful. We knew we would have to limit our number of participants and that was fine. Then we had to limit our numbers even more, either refunding guys who would be coming from states that required them to quarantine prior to the retreat, or transferring their registration to a future retreat. And then again as few more guys made the difficult decision to bow out of this event out of caution. All received the same option of a refund or transfer of their registration.
When all was said and done, we had eleven guys participating in this retreat including myself. It was certainly one of the smallest men’s knitting retreats ever to take place, especially at Easton Mountain, or usual venue for spring and fall retreats. Easton had implemented a lot of new practices to ensure the safety of their staff and volunteers as well as the participants of the programs they host. Our limited numbers made maintaining safe distances in both lodging and our usual gathering spaces in the lodge throughout the weekend.
The workshops and ‘expert tables’ that we normally have at these retreats did not take place this year mostly out of safety concerns, but it also became clear we wouldn’t be able to support them with such limited numbers. I worried that the lack of these activities would make the retreat less appealing. I was wrong. Instead, we had free knitting and socializing time all weekend and for most of us, this was first real social event we had participated in for months and it was just what we needed. At Sunday’s feedback session at the end of the retreat, everyone said they were grateful for the time to catch up with friends and knit.
We even made our usual trip to the Adirondack Wool and Arts Festival on Saturday. The festival organizers did a fantastic job implementing safety precautions for both vendors and customers, and even though there were far fewer vendors participating, there was still no shortage of beautiful yarn and fiber to be found. The vendors I spoke with echoed the sentiments of the guys. It was great to be out and to see people and to reconnect and any Covid safety precautions we had to abide by to do that were not an imposition at all.
I worried that this retreat would be so distanced, disinfected, and sanitized that it wouldn’t be any fun, but without those precautions it wouldn’t have happened at all. The guys who were able to come are what made this retreat so incredibly special and as small as it was, a huge success. Every one of them embodied the spirit of brotherhood and genuine love for the men’s knitting community and it was an honor to spend the weekend with them.