Silver Threads

a knitting blog with occasional side trips

Late winter escape


The Minnesota Knitters’ Guild’s knitting retreat consistently falls in mid-March. The weather has yet to achieve consistency. Two years ago, I squelched through half-melted snow and mud, which is probably typical late winter weather for north-central Minnesota. Last year, the temperature soared into the 60ºs (F), the snow was gone, and I took frequent walks out to the end of the peninsula and admired the still-frozen lake. This year, it was true winter. The snow looked to be about 3 feet deep, and we gained another inch or two on Friday night. The temperatures started out in the 20ºs, but I woke up Sunday morning to -14º. But since nothing encourages staying in and knitting like winter itself, this was fine weather for a knitting retreat. The cold and snow kept everyone more or less close to home. I went out on Saturday and took a few photos before my fingers got too cold to feel the camera buttons, and the women I came with got to go cross-country skiing twice, but there were no group walks this year.

Early morning view from my cabin window. That's a lake back there behind the trees.

Early morning view from my cabin window. That’s a lake back there behind the trees.

I have the best intentions of someday taking a picture of people knitting during this retreat—you know, since this is a knitting retreat and all. But as I load a bag with my knitting projects, glasses, iPad, indoor shoes, flashlight, and knitting tools, taking the camera with me to the dining hall just feels like excess weight, so I end up going off on my own and taking pictures of the scenery instead. Last year’s photo was of mist rising off a frozen lake into warm air. This year, enjoy the sight of snow in trees.

The retreat is ever more popular, with 48 attendees this year. This may have to be the upper limit for registration in the future. I’m guessing there were still plenty of  beds available, since this place is a camp in the summer. But mostly what we do is gather in the dining hall, sit around in a circle, and knit* the day away. It was a double ring of chairs this year and there really isn’t room for a third ring, nor was there room for any more dining tables. In addition to the massages that have been offered in years past, there were also manicures and pedicures available, and the schedules for all three were full, with people being turned away.  I remember wondering after the first Great Guild Getaway if it had been successful enough that they’d go to the effort to put another one together. Five years in, it’s beginning to show a few signs of strain from its success. Congratulations are in order.

Stroll Fingering Hand Painted (Lullaby colorway)

Stroll Fingering Hand Painted (Lullaby colorway)

This year, I brought up some yarn to sell. They’ve had a silent auction for two or three years now, but this was the first year I’ve been organized enough to have some ready to take with me. Not entirely sure how this was going to work, I mostly stuck to small quantities, suitable for socks or a cowl, but I managed to sell a shawl’s worth of lace weight yarn as well (yay!). I also resisted buying any of the yarn that other people were offering, so the only new yarn that came home with me was my door prize: a skein of Stroll Fingering Hand Painted yarn from Knit Picks. It barely had time to see the stash: I brought it home yesterday and started knitting it up into a shawlette this morning. Net stash loss: woo-hoo!

So again, I had a good time, and again, I’m looking forward to next year’s retreat. It’s an excellent way to open the spring yarn season.


*Or crochet. Or spin. Or quilt. Or embroider. Over the years, knitting groups have become so much more open-minded towards the practice of other crafts. 😉


6 thoughts on “Late winter escape

  1. We missed you on Friday, and I was wondering how you would fare in the very cold north woods this time. Of course, it wasn’t much better here.

    Glad to hear it went well. The yarn is a lovely shade of blue.


    • I ended up in one of the most far-flung cabins (measured from the dining hall), and it was still only about a 3-minute walk between the two buildings, so the cold was survivable. The cross-country skiers told me that the lake at the tip of the peninsula had these huge chunks of ice jutting up that I might like to photograph, but unfortunately I didn’t have the right clothes or equipment to get out that far.

      I do like that blue. We got to choose our door prize from a crate of assorted KnitPicks fingering weight yarns. No digging allowed when it was your turn, but you could look the top layer over from all angles, and there was an opportunity to trade at the end of it all.


  2. That is a beautiful skein. Looking forward to pictures of it worked up.


  3. Sounds like a lovely and relaxing time!


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