Sunday, September 20, 2009

It takes some fiber, yarn, needles, spindles... and a few men

Wow, I know it's been quite some time since I've blogged. Life has just been too busy; or should I say my job consumed most of my free time. And with likes of Facebook and Twitter I found that posting shorter snippets of what's been happening a lot less time consuming. Ummm, I think I just lied. It's probably very likely that the time I spent on Facebook and Twitter added up to quite a big chunk of time.

Well anyway, what got me to finally head to Blogger and type in an entry? Knitting! Yes my somewhat dormant obsession is back and in a big way. This is not a complaint, at least from my perspective. I'm not quite sure how David feels though ;-)

I had been knitting on and off, here and there since we moved to Seattle. But the amount of projects were not coming off the needles as quickly as they had when I was in CA. So what did it take? Well Joe Hose, a very dear and old college friend sent me a link to a flyer posted on Flickr for a Men's Knitting Retreat during an IM Google chat. You read correctly; a knitting retreat for just men. And coincidentally it was going to be held a hop, skip and a jump away just south of Seattle in Federal Way, WA.

So after a little bit of should I or shouldn't I internally debating (mostly around the cost and the time away from David and Trixie), I contacted wonderMike and said sign me up.

A few months of pent up excitement paid off. The Fall Men's Knitting Retreat (MFKR - cute acronym right?) happened and EXCEEDED my expectations. Up until the retreat I would say that I was a solitary and self-taught knitter. I had never knitted with another man. In the seven-ish years that I've been knitting I think I might have met 2 or 3 male knitters but those were fleeting moments.

The retreat was held at Dumas Bay which was a former monastery. The accommodations were just fine for a dormitory. It brought back some strange college memories (don't even go there some of you). The grounds were absolutely beautiful. I can't believe that I didn't take any pictures. The meeting room had a breathtaking view of the Puget Sound.

Here are some pics of the gang (there were 28 total not including me).

Mike (aka wonderMike), organizer

Brian (co-organizer), James (all the way from New Zealand), & Kerry

Daniel, Harry & Barth

Jeff, Chuck, Brian, Joe (the guy who started the first Men's Knitting Retreat)

Ron & Franklin (Franklin recently published the very funny It Itches: A Stash of Knitting Cartoons)

Brian knitting 14... that's right 14 socks at one time on a single very long Addi Turbo Click needle

Jeff, Nigel, Michael, Andy, Brett, Paul, ? (can't tell from the back of his head), & Daniel

You all are probably wondering what the heck one does at a knitting retreat. Well the obvious is knit. But there was a lot more. wonderMike and Brian organized quite a fun-packed retreat of classes, field trips and speakers/guests.

I took a beginning class of drop spindle yarn spinning taught by the fabulous wonderMike. I bought this beautiful hand made spindle crafted by Ed Lingenfelter (Tilt-A-Whorl Spindles).

The yarn on the shaft I spun and plied

Top view

Underneath view

I also learned how to do some hip hems for him taught by the very entertaining and talented Stephen Houghton (aka hizKnits).

We went on a trip to Moonshadow Alpaca Ranch in Auburn, WA. Those animals are just too freaking cute.

Nancy, Mike & Deb (Deb & Nancy are the fabulous owners of Moonshadow Alpaca Ranch)

It won't surprise those who know me that my mind started going on overdrive. Mind, "Boy how I would love to own an Alpaca Farm." "Wouldn't it be fun to raise these cute animals, harvest their fleece, spin it up (you did just learn to spin didn't you), and knit up some warm fuzzy stuff...." I learned though that money is not made from selling the fleece. It actually is from selling the Alpaca to other farms or as pets.

So who knows?

We did a bunch of other fun stuff. The crew of us went to Skacel which is the exclusive distributor of the lovely Addi Turbo needles and scrumptious yarns from Europe. We were able to go shopping in the warehouse. It was like being let loose in a fiber candy store. I left with a several new Addi Clicks and 3 bags of yarn.

Kenny, Michael and Troy shopping in the warehouse

On the last evening we had a guest visit from Cat Bordhi, the sock Godess, who gave a very inspirational talk encouraging us to knit in public, teach other men & boys to knit, and publish books.

We did a ton of other stuff but this post is already too long.

I will NEVER forget the retreat and all the wonderful, talented and funny people I met (I wish I had pics over everyone) and new friends I made. I'm counting the days until next Fall Knitting Retreat.


Nigel said...

Keith, Great post - and good to see the guys one more time - I'm hoping that over the next year, every now and again another post will pop up and there will be one of us again. Great meeting you at the retreat - I had no idea you were a solo knitter before this. You certainly blended in very well.

I certainly hope we can all get together again next year. And since I'm just up the road in Vancouver, BC, maybe we could have a mini get-together in the spring.
(ooh, my secret word to leave this comment is DO SPIN. I think it's a sign. Loved the spinning class and taught myself plying after watching you guys do it on the Sunday morning.

Paul Novembre said...

Hey Keith!

I was pleased as punch that you mentioned me in your blog!

I'm really glad that you had a great time. I enjoyed reading your experience.

Joe Hose

Franklin said...

You're making me miss you and all the guys JUST when I was starting to recover...but it's a sweet ache.

All the best,

Mel said...

Okay, so first I see we have the same Scharffen Berger t-shirt and now I learn you've also got a David. Were we like separated at birth or something?