knitting in Maine

Last week I did something utterly selfish. I took a trip purely for fun. Without my family. This is something I basically never do. Even traveling for professional gigs is close to impossible because, aside from the actual cost of traveling, it's hard on everyone if I leave my family responsibilities at home.

Actually, I went with my mom, and it was fabulous. I'd been thinking for a while that attending a knitting retreat might be fun, so I asked if she wanted to go to the Knitting Pipeline retreat in Maine, which is held every year in mid-September. We tacked on a couple extra days to hang out in the Boston area with my brother and his wife and my niece, so it turned out to be a family trip of sorts anyway. 

Stuart works a fairly demanding job that does not allow time off when his wife takes a knitting trip on a whim. So my dad hung out in Madison to help out with cooking meals and chauffeuring the kids to and from various activities. I'm telling you, it was a logistical feat pulling this off.

But pull it off we did!

We spent the weekend with these fine people (and my SIL, who is a little camera shy!)

We took a detour to New Hampshire to visit the Keepsake Quilting outlet store. The shop didn't bowl us over, but the drive was pretty and I did find a few things in the sale room that had to come home with me.

The retreat itself was, frankly, amazing. I don't like it much when people go on and on about events that I can't attend, so I'll spare you a long write-up. But everything people say about Knitting Pipeline retreats being warm and welcoming and friendly is true. My mom and I are both pretty introverted and were a little nervous about meeting 50 people we didn't know, but in the end we didn't feel awkward or left out at all. You never sit alone at breakfast, you never have trouble finding someone to go to dinner with, and everywhere there are people who geek out about knitting and yarn just as much as I do. Bliss. 

Here are a few random snapshots of what we did and saw.

We took a class on Japanese-style patchwork from the woman who owns Brooklyn Haberdashery. This was hand-sewing and really fun. Here are some examples she showed us before we did our own:

We also took a color knitting workshop from Donna Kay. I've done a lot of color-work knitting, so I didn't learn a whole lot, but there were some good tricks for catching floats, and she demonstrated a crocheted steek, which is something I've got to try someday. Everyone started a hat for the class, and I got all obsessed and finished mine that day.

Here's a group shot of everyone's hats!

And here's a photo of everyone taking photos of the hats, lol.

Wednesday was a free day, so my mom and I drove to Portland. We went to Knit Wit (yes, I bought yarn) and had lunch down the block, and then took the long way back hoping for scenic views of the ocean. Unfortunately, the highway along the coast is so built up with vacation rentals and kitschy shops, you can't really see the ocean unless you pull over and walk there. We did that for a few minutes.

Kennebunk itself is a cute little town, but you can practically smell the money there (the Bushes have a summer home in Kennebunk). The retreat is held at the Franciscan Guest House, which is a Catholic property with a bunch of dorms that aren't fancy, but it's at least affordable. It's also just a five minute walk from the beach, where I went running in the early mornings.

I was too shy to take pictures of people, but the people were really what made the retreat fun. You know those rare times when you're surrounded by your tribe? Last week was like that. I can see why people keep going back!


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