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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Knitting Retreat

Friday, September 9, 2011, I left Richmond and headed about a 100 miles west/northwest of Richmond to the mountains of Virginia.  My destination - Staunton, Virginia and the Hotel Stonewall Jackson for the 3rd annual Staunton Knitting Retreat.  Sixteen of us attended and had an absolute blast.  The attendees were Emmy, Mary, Kat E, Norma, Janice, Renny, Issy, Linda, Cindy, Nelda, Fran, Jo, Wanda, Rita, Pam and me, Kat J.  Several of the ladies I knew through my local Tuesday Night Knit Night (TNK), and others I met for the first time but quickly became friends with through our common love of all things knitting.

We stayed in historical downtown Staunton.

Lots of stores and shops abound.  There's a great health food shop just up from the hotel.  I'm taking this picture from outside of Cranberries where I had lunch one day and a Sunday brunch.  Great food and good for you.  What a great combination.  They make delicious looking smoothies.  Sadly, I didn't get to get one.  I'll just have to go back and have one or put it on next year's list of must do things.

This is another view of the historical area from my hotel room (also note the scenic top deck to the parking garage - LOL).

Blackfriars, a theater presenting Shakespeare plays, is located right next door to the hotel.  Michael, my darling son and his lady love Jenna were in attendance on the Friday night to see AS YOU LIKE IT.  Sorry to say that I didn't get to see them although we were *that* close.

Several of the retreat attendees got there before I did.  About 6 or 7 of them had decided to do a KAL of the Bermuda shawl by Ilga Leja.  Now most of these knitters are advanced knitters with lots of experience.  I watched them frog all day on Friday.  They were intrepid though and between them managed to figure out the instructions.

We joked about the pattern being "easy", "addictive" and "unable to stop knitting" since these advanced knitters were having so much trouble with the pattern.  But nothing stopped them.  One of the ladies said she'd never gotten so much mileage out of yarn as she kept pulling it out and casting it back on. 

I have to say it must have become addictive, because by the end of the weekend several of them had made a fair bit of progress on their Bermuda Shawls (renamed by the group in jest, The Bermuda Triangle Shawl).  I have to admit, the shawl as it comes together is quite intriguing.  The Noro Silk sock is perfect for this project and I watched in interest as each shawl grew and the colors changed with each new section. Beautiful, really.  I'm so glad they stuck with it.  And I'm sorry to say I don't have any progress pictures to show you.  But I hope to have some in a future post.

I got to get to know a lot of the retreat attendees better.  Fran (in the navy top and blue shawl) is someone that I have had the pleasure of meeting through knitting classes.  She's a lovely person and when she pulled out this shawl my jaw dropped.  It is gorgeous!  I wish my camera had captured the silkiness of the yarn.  The pattern is Sweet Jazz by Samantha Roshak, and I've got to make one.  But since I have about 15 unfinished projects right now, I'd better finish some things first.  But I do love it and Fran wears it so well.

Friday night we went out to dinner as a group at The Mill Street Grill.

The Mill has great food.  I think we all ordered something different and everyone raved about how good the food was. 

No shots of the food though.  I was so hungry, I think I inhaled mine.

I hit the bed early that night, but my roommate and I ended up talking until the wee hours of the morning.  Renny is the best roommate.  Very kind.  Very sweet.  And funny.  We had lots of laughs together. 

Here's a picture of our room.  Notice my awesome beach tote has a place of honor on the bed - but only while I'm up and about.  I was able to get several projects in the bag and have room for more.  Since I'm the unofficial cast on Queen, this may not be a good thing.

Left to right - Norma, Wanda, Janis, Fran and Renny during some retreat laughter and project sharing.

Nelda explains to Fran and me a technique she uses - or we could be talking about our cats.  Nelda is another very experienced knitter and I wish I had pictures of her show and tell.  Linda and Cindy are still discussing the Bermuda Shawl in the background.

Linda shares a work in progress.  It looked stunning here, but once we were home and she had it finished and blocked it was breath-taking.  The pattern is Semele.  It may also be on my wishlist of patterns I want to knit.  I think Linda knitted it in 2 weeks or so.  She always amazes me with her speed.  As do most of the ladies in this group.  I'm the original slow-poke.

The only other picture I got during show and tell is a wedding shawl that Mary is making.  Shhh...it may be a surprise.

I'm hoping that someone else with a camera (hint, hint Linda!) will share some of their pictures with me.  I was so upset with myself and my camera.  Dead batteries right in the middle of show and tell.  But to make matters worse, I'd brought my battery charger with what I thought were charged batteries only to find that they were dead as a doornail too.  None of my batteries came back to life until Sunday : ( 

The next day with batteries recharged, I snapped this picture.  All hand blown glass, this piece of art was spectacular and brightened up the lobby.

The weekend was great.  Tons of laughs, lots of knitting time, good friendships forged - it just couldn't have been better.

The only bad part was when Sunday afternoon came and we had to leave.  We all agreed we couldn't wait until for the 4th annual weekend to be here.  But that's not until September 2012.

On the drive home, I stopped along the way and got some great shots of the mountains.  Rain clouds were gathering and it made the pictures unusual.

These pictures are taken from the top of Afton Mountain.  There were a couple of historical markers here.

This one talks about the flight of Richard Dupont.  He used this point to fly his plane in 1933, I think, and break the distance record for sail planes.

And the other marker talks about a meeting held at a nearby tavern in 1818 to decide the location of the University of Virginia, which ended up in Charlottesville, VA.  The meeting was attended by former presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.  The tavern burned down in a 1909 fire.  I've lived in Virginia most of my life, but I don't know that I'd ever stopped to read these markers before.  Virginia is full of history and markers.  It's fun to know that you're walking in the same place that others have travelled before you and to know what they were up to.  Me, I was just taking pictures after a great weekend of fun.

I'm already looking forward to the next retreat.  And yes, I did get dumped on by torrential downpours about 20 minutes later. 


josiekitten said...

That looks like a fun way to spend a few days. I hope you've been enjoying your writers' retreat as much! See you in the clubhouse soon. xxx

snoopydog said...

Wow! Sounds like a fun time was had by all.What a picturesque area too. I love that piece of glass art. Have a good week. Ros