Jack and I left very early on the Thursday morning, driving through rain and fog, to meet a group of retreat attendees at Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney, Vermont. A tour of the mill had been arranged prior to the retreat for anyone who wanted to go, and as I think that everyone who knits should see how yarn is made I was really pleased by how many guys attended. After seeing the process from raw wool in the storage area through washing, teasing, carding to spinning frames to skeins winders to shop shelves, the guys did some selective purchasing. It was the first time I’d seen a couple of these guys in 2 years, so it was a great opportunity to chat and get caught up. Then it was time for lunch: the Front Poach Cafe had been alerted that we’d be showing up, so they set a table for us on...well, the front porch.
Easton Mountain was beautifully green. It rained a lot while we were there.
The retreat was really enjoyable for me. I hadn’t rushed in, as in past years, and I was a lot less stressed about life, which has been a problem in the past. I really enjoyed myself, and thank Joe and Willy for organizing a great gathering, and the staff at Easton Mountain for keeping us fed, and all the attendees for going in with the best intentions that we have a successful gathering. Many thanks also to the companies and businesses that contributed yarn and books and fibre and gadgets for swag and for prizes.
We had workshops.
A trip to Foster Sheep Farm.
A full bowl of candy for those moments when you’ve dropped a stitch and need to reinforce your spirit with a hit of chocolate.
There was lots of time for chitchat, knitting and spinning.
Duing the retreat, Joe, Mike and I went into the studios of WRPI-Troy as guests on the program “The Quest of Life”, hosted by Harry Faddis and Steve Simms. We spoke about the men’s knitting retreats, about men knitting and I can’t-remember-what-else. I think we all did really well. The interview has been archived here: you’ll need the basic Quicktime player to listen to it. (That's Harry, then Steve, in the studio.)
And of course, we had show’n’tell. I had 4 items this year. Two have been shown on the blog: the spindle-spun white scarf (I took it so the beginning spindle-spinners could see that with practice you can make enough yarn to make something real), and; the grey scarf from the fleece that I bought last year at from Carole at Foster Farm. (The scarf has gone to live with Carole.)
The third item was the Pink Poodle Scarf from Morehouse Farm. I saw it on their website, thought it a hoot, ordered the kit. I don’t think anyone got a picture of me modelling it, so here’s one I just took in my apartment. I dunno; somehow I’m not sure it’s Me.
The last item has a bit of a story. Back in 1987, I was one of a dozen male knitters interviewed by Knitters magazine (issue 6; Spring 1987). None of us was a “knitting personality” or a “name” in the knitting biz: we were all just guys who knit. (I think a couple of the guys owned yarn stores.) It was an interesting article for a craft magazine to run, since the content of craft magazines was (and is) about patterns or product news. But Knitters was in an early development stage (Issue 6, after all) and, I think, experimenting with what its content could be to appeal to a target market. (I understand that customer response was extremely negative.)
One of the retreat attendees emailed me shortly before the retreat to ask if that was really me in the article. I dug out my copy of the magazine to look at what I’d actually said -- or rather, what they chose to publish of what I’d said during the interview. (Wow; I was young back then.) Buried in the few paragraphs of my interview was a mention of my first knitting project. I was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old, at home sick with a bug of some kind. Restless. I had craft books from the public library; one had a pattern for a teddy bear. I’d been watching my Mom and grandmums knit for as a long as I could remember. One thing led to another, and I turned out my first knitting project. Primitive from many perspectives, but it worked. I still have it, and took it for show’n’tell. Here it is.
Eventually we all packed up, said good-byes, and went on our ways. All in all, a very good weekend.