So here’s my redux of the Men’s Spring Knitting Retreat. I’d like to say I took ooodles of photos, but I didn’t.
I started by driving down to Alan’s place near Niagara Falls after work last Tuesday, and we left Canada early Wednesday morning, smoothly crossing into the USA at Buffalo. The drive to Easton Mountain was uneventful. I love the landscape around Herkimer; Alan remembered the Beechnut factory. We arrived mid-afternoon (I think) and spent the balance of the afternoon knitting on the lodge’s veranda. It was a warm, bright, breezy day; a real contrast to the balance of the weekend when it was generally cool with lots and lots of rain. Jeff, from Florida, had also arrived a day early, and it was great to get caught up and look at what he was knitting. Last year he was a true Knewbie Knitter; this year he was barreling along on a baby blanket made from mitred squares. (Excellent craftsmanship.) After dinner on Wednesday, Scott and Dave (who live at Easton Mountain), and Jeff, Alan and I made a stop at the local ice cream stand (“Strawberry Daiquiri” flavour is highly recommended, and watch out for the portion sizes: they’re ginormous) and then headed up to the coffee shop in Saratoga Springs to knit.
Thursday morning, Joe arrived (surprisingly early) and we did some set up for the event. We packed the participants’ knitting bags, and set aside some of the wonderful donated items to be given as gifts to the guys who taught classes. In late morning, Dave headed to the airport to pick up a few of our group, and then we met at the local Turkish restaurant for lunch. Scott took Kyle, Chuck and me to the yarn store in Saratoga Springs, and then back to Easton Mountain where the majority of the group had arrived.
At this point, it all pretty much becomes a blur of laughing, learning, knitting, crocheting, eating, sharing stories, late nights and early mornings, more laughing, more eating, more knitting and crocheting, and show’n’tell (some spectacular lace from Joe, Chris and Alastair). It was wonderful, truly, to see familiar faces from last year’s 2 retreats: Chris, Kenny, John, Bob, Kyle, Chuck, Jeff, Sean, Josh, Thad, Michael, Tom, Paul, Guido, Stephen, Steve -- I know I’ve missed some of you. (We had 6 guys who’d look up when you called the name “Steve” or “Steven” or “Stephen”). We welcomed some first-timers: Daniel, Lars, Stephen, Gary (fabulous weaving), John, Joseph, Matthew (who presented me with early birthday gifts from himself and Kate), Peter from OZ, Solomon from Mexico, Juan, Mark – who have I missed?
It was different to last year’s Spring retreat, but of course it would have to be. Same lovely space to gather; same relaxed pace; but we were a different group of people in a different time. Everyone, I think – I hope – had a really good time.
Post-lunch on Sunday, the majority of the crew packed up to return home, leaving Alan, Peter, Bob and me. I dashed out to the local garden centre with Leo, who tends the gardens at Easton Mountain, to pick up some annuals and a couple of shrubs. Supper was with the residents who live at Easton Mountain, then a trip to the coffee shop in Saratoga Springs for knitting and conversation.
Alan and I headed out Monday morning on our trip home, arriving at his place in time for supper. I fell into bed and, yesterday (Tuesday), after a leisurely breakfast, started the drive home. A short stop for lunch with K in Guelph, and then a shorter stop to see Buffy at Shelridge Farm and deliver the lace scarf I knit.
I like to say, because I think it’s true, that while Joe and I handle the administration and planning of the event and generally steer things day-to-day, it’s the participants who make the event a success. It’s their willingness to come together and share, to laugh, to be respectful, to go with the flow, etc. Many thanks to all the guys who attended this year for their part in making the retreat a good time.
While I’m extending gratitude, a huge thank-you goes to our sponsoring businesses that donated items we used as thank-you gifts to the guys who lead workshops or that were given as prizes in the opening night ice-breaker activity. These businesses are, in no particular order,
We’ll see you next year!