Monday, May 15, 2017

Week 18 - Canadian Knitting Retreat

It was a 3 day work week for me that was bookended by PT first thing Monday and last thing Wednesday. Between that and spending 2 hours each day training Brook, the work week flew by, which was a good thing because it was all about Sue's knitting retreat in Canada.

I had called Nora while I was still out with my shoulder to ask about taking vacation for the retreat so my guilt kept the trip short. Anne and I were taking a 7:00 am flight out of Omaha on Thursday that would get us to Toronto early enough in the afternoon to rent a car and drive 3 hours north to Southampton. The retreat was Friday and Saturday so we'd be leaving the B&B Sunday morning right after breakfast for a late afternoon flight home. I'd get home at midnight but that meant I could work Monday. Two days of vacation was all my guilt would allow me to ask for.

Anne and I met at the airport and our travel was uneventful. We picked up the car, a Kia Forte, and then had time to kill before meeting Cindy and her friend to share the drive north. We actually sat in the Thrifty garage and knitted until a few minutes before their flight arrived and then headed out. That's when the fun began. 

We could see where we needed to be to meet them but it was one way and we were past it. Thinking there was a ring road, we headed out but the signage was dismal and we ended up on the highway. Every exit we tried lead to yet another highway and we were miles away before we turned on the GPS to find our way back. It was super stressful and we thought the clock was ticking but when we got back to the airport, we got a text that their flight was delayed. Fearful of getting lost again, we sat in the loading area for 1.5 hours, amazed that no one kicked us out like they would in the US. Gotta love those nice Canadians! 

When they finally arrived, we headed north on country roads to Southampton, arriving in time for dinner at a yummy local restaurant. It was great to see Eileen and Gail (hadn't seen them since Shetland last summer) and Sue, who I hadn't see since the last retreat in September of 2015. We also got to meet the 2 Brits - Francoise and Bridget. I knew immediately that I was going to like them. All good.

The retreat was a blast. There were lots of locals who came for the day and 8 of us staying in the B&B, which is run by a woman, Jenny, who is a fabulous host and an amazing cook. My first class was weaving. Yes, I was touching a loom. I knew when I signed up for it that I'd be buying one but I was OK with that. Weaving is MUCH faster than knitting and you know I have some yarn. How's that for an understatement? I took to weaving like a house afire and was instantly hooked. I had signed up for a crochet for knitters class for the afternoon purely because I didn't want to do rug hooking (the alternate class.) Since I could already crochet, I helped a woman who knew nothing. I also popped out periodically to work on my weaving. The day flew by filled with knitting goodness.

That evening we ate dinner at a local restaurant and then had a trunk show (a fashion show of knitted items featuring a specific yarn line) at Sue's shop. I wasn't much interested in the show but did take the opportunity to spend some money on yarn. Now I've been on a yarn diet and have bought no yarn in 2017 except for a few thrift shop skeins, which are always exempt. Travel yarn is also exempt and between the 20% discount we got with the retreat and the Canadian dollar only being worth .75 cents American, everything was super cheap. I loaded up on yarn and bought a 16" loom with an additional heddle for using sock yarn (yup, I've got lots of that) to the tune of $700+. But it was <$500 American after conversion so a fabulous deal. I went back to the B&B for knitting in the common room where we laughed and laughed. Day one was marvelous and Saturday was going to be full of fun too.

After another delicious breakfast and some weaving time, we headed to Bulk Barn with the Brits to stock up on all my faves. From there we went to Sue's to dye sock blanks. These are scarf like things that are knitted with 2 strands so when you unravel them you get 2 identical socks. You can paint them with any pattern you like so I wrote a message on mine just to poke Eileen, who is mortified that my favorite Canadian store is Bulk Barn. We all had fun then met back at the shop, where I bought just one more skein of sock yarn. Couldn't resist.

After a snack lunch of leftover cheese, crackers and fruit, the afternoon workshop was double knitting, which I've always wanted to learn. We sat in the common room and knitted the afternoon away. Dinner was catered in and was delicious. All this time in the B&B meant that I should have packed more comfy clothes but my single pair of black stretchy pants got worn a lot. At least I had fresh t-shirts. 

After dinner, I pulled out the huge suitcase of felted sweaters that I'd brought for Eileen because paying to check a bag was cheaper than shipping plus that gave me a bag to fill on the way home. (Check out her Etsy shop here to see the mittens she makes with them.) It was a little trunk show of my own and Eileen was thrilled with what I'd brought. She even got some orders where people picked out the exact sweater they wanted her to use. After that we sat and knitted for hours and I haven't laughed so hard in ages. It was a wonderful evening but that meant the retreat was over. Quick but fabulous and worth every penny and the travel.

Sunday was all travel. We left the B&B at 10:00 after tearful goodbyes and headed to Toronto. We dropped Cindy and Christine off for their flight then returned the car, having better success navigating the airport once we realized the numbers in the box on the signs were terminal numbers. Other than getting pulled aside by Customs because we'd checked "No Food" and Anne had 2 big bag of Canadian doritos (Humpty Dumpty Snack Mix actually) in the top of her carry on, our travel was uneventful. 

I walked into my house just before midnight, ending the week exhausted but on a high note. I'd had a blast and got to spend time with some of my favorite people while learning new things. I'd also met two new friends and got an invite to Oxfordshire to boot. This weekend adventure is what I live for. Travelling, knitting and friends - life doesn't get any better. Bliss!

No comments:

Post a Comment