(note: All photos but my sock in progress photo were taken by Joanna of Knit Spin Farm. Thanks to her for being such a good photographer and letting me use her photos!)
I did it! I spent my weekend knitting/spinning with a bunch of strangers. It was MAGICAL.
First of all, my carpool. There was one other person coming from Bloomington: Liby, who does the Multicraftual podcast. We drove to Indianapolis-ish to meet the rest of our carpool: JoAnna, who does the Knit Spin Farm podcast, and Amy Beth, who does the Fat Squirrel Speaks podcast. Indeed, I was the only person in the car who does not have a podcast.
As we were driving toward Washington, IL, we saw the most amazing thing in the sky. As you may imagine, this photo just gives you a hint as to its awesomeness.
You know what's amazing about the internet? You google "horizontal cloud rainbow" and it tells you what you really mean is circumhorizontal arc. Gotta love that. I also love that the Knitting Pipeline podcast has a "Nature Notes" section, and we experienced some really unique nature on our way to the retreat.
We stopped at a Klose Knit in Urbana, which had some beautiful yarn (I continue my mission to be like a Pokemon trainer but for Opal sock yarn) and where we had a fantastic realization that we had crossed a time zone and were no longer running late. I do this literally every time I drive to Illinois, and I do hope that someday I learn to take this into account.
We also stopped at Heritage Hills, a farm that had Leicester Longwool sheep, which are a fascinating breed and make adorable lambs. Now I suppose I should say that the day I married my husband was the happiest moment of my life, but honestly, look at me here.
I do believe this lamb felt loved (or terrified).
Now onto the retreat! It was low key, mostly a lot of just hanging out and chatting working on projects. I did some spinning on my charkha and attracted a little attention.
Sitting next to me is Susan B. Anderson, a fabulous knit designer, and standing is Rose who sells amazing yarn at Cakewalk, as well as our host Paula of the Knitting Pipeline. I went to some informal workshops on things like the Leicester Longwool breed, a show and tell about shawls, and one of the big hits of the retreat: the bellydance workshop taught by Liby.
My entire carpool, thrifty as we were, decided to camp out on the floor of the church that was hosting the event.
Paula is also a bagpiper and treated us to an amazing performance with two of her fellow pipers. There's something deeply moving about the sound of live bagpipes, and it's tough to explain, but it resonates with some emotional thing in my brain . When they performed Amazing Grace, I was actually fighting back tears.
We really had a fabulous time. I even got some knitting done. Here's the beginning of a pair of husband socks, made from Opal sock yarn and looking like a bear snout.
I can now very heartily recommend going to a retreat. I met lots of really interesting people, learned a bunch of things (including hip shimmies), and expanded my knitting queue even further. What was especially great was that I didn't have to put in a lot of effort to meet people. There were plenty of people more extroverted than me who introduced themselves. At meals it was really easy to sit with a group of people whether you knew some of them or not. And of course, it's easy to strike up conversation about what someone is wearing or working on.
Here's my carpool on our way home from the event. I say "carpool" but that seems so impersonal. This was a car full of seriously fun, smart, sassy, beautiful women. Amazing to think they were all strangers to me Friday morning!
Now onto another sure to be fabulous weekend: Maryland Sheep and Wool. Will I get another fleece? What other goodies are coming home with me? Will I eat ribbon chips? The answer to that last one is yes.