Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Knitters Review Retreat: New fibers, new friends, new projects.

I am so fortunate. DH was completely supportive when I mentioned the opportunity to return to Massachusetts, join with DD and attend the Knitters Review Retreat 2007. DD was willing to extend our tour, so I arrived a day early we headed to Pioneer Valley, her old stomping ground. We stayed at the Northampton Inn. Since there'd been a delay while my luggage caught up with me at Logan Airport, and since we'd made a detour to Rhode Island to walk DD's adorable dog, we were glad to arrive and grateful for the perfect bedding, cable TV selection and in-house tavern, Wiggins.

We eavesdropped on a drunken band of martial arts instructors (None of these folk had anything in common with John Carradine OR "little grasshopper!) We met a young woman being recruited by Smith College as a soft-ball player. Her father and I reminisced about Pasadena (where he'd gone to design school) as well as the radical colleges of our youth (Berkeley, Isla Vista, Columbia).

DD got up early for a morning run. Apparently not many people job around downtown Northampton! We checked out and walked past the Northampton Municipal Center which had wonderful sculptures everywhere.

I felt at home when I saw this one!

Northampton Wools exceeded our hopes and expectations. I confess I made a big enough purchase to get one of their lightweight, glow-in-the-dark chartreuse knitting bags. I also got Cat Borhdi's new sock book, Addi's for lace and higher magnification reading glasses in preparation for Shelia January's workshop on Bohus knitting.

I might have to add these tweedy wonders to my stash in the future for a sweater.

I discovered a shop called Ten Thousand Villages that imports unique objects and sells them on a fair trade basis. I'd never have thought of elephants with reindeer antlers. But the red and green and gold beads had a charming (if misunderstood) Christmas spirit.
We popped into Essentials.
I had a nostalgic moment looking at their children's books. It was a very small, exquisite selection.

Then we were off to the Berkshires. We were almost to Lenox when the lunch bug bit. The sign at the Grind was attractive, though we were amused that it was sharing a building with a beauty salon.

Again, we had a great conversation with Mr. Ingegni, the owner of both businesses, and to hear him tell it, several other buildings in Lee. The sandwiches were huge, the soup savory, and the unnamed dessert (sort of Italian baklava: crushed nuts with honey in rolled puff pastry) was amazing. The main wall had a mural of the part of Northern Italy that Mr. I's great grandmother was from.

It was only a few miles to Seven Hills Inn. Built in the Gilded Age (1911) it had been gently used, obviously restored in some areas (and not in others) and had this wonderful view of the Berkshires.

We arrived in time for happy hour and then had a congenial dinner prior to the show and tell and introductions.

Every meal was another opportunity to meet and greet knitters who were incredibly accomplished, thoughtful and interesting women. (There were three male attendees: one knitter, one husband/dad, and one son.) I've been corrected thanks to Mario: "slight correction. There were FOUR male attendees.
one son; one husband/Dad; TWO knitters."

Clara Parkes, the retreat ringleader and founder of Knitters Review, is one of the kindest gentlest women I've had the pleasure to meet. She was embarrased, modest and deserving of the standing ovation we gave her at the close of the retreat.

Many participants stayed late to pat the yarn (and purchase fiber) at the trunk show. I bought books and yarn at the Saturday afternoon "market". Photos and reports of that later, because I had to ship them home rather than have exploding luggage on the way home.

The world famous WEBS opened for attendees on Sunday afternoon. Whoo hoo! Millions of miles of yarn of every type and stripe with NO CROWDS. We got to meet Mr. and Mrs. Webs and their two cute sons who were going to town with swiffers. The amazing "back room" is still a glorious place. I was impressed in what I perceived as more spacious, better lit, brighter displays in the front of the store. Cashmere anyone?

DD and I were, surprisingly, exhausted by Sunday afternoon. All that camaraderie and concentration really took a toll. (The Bohus knitting is amazing, lace is on my agenda, and I can now knit English AND Continental!)
We had reservations at a The Red Maple Inn, a B&B in Spencer (central MA near Worcester). It wasn't a bargain, but it was worth it. The proprietors are a retired Metropolitan Opera singer and an Escoffier chef.
They offer cooking classes, a vast array of DVD's and movie nights. They were unobtrusive and charming.

We stayed in an addition-to-the-main house called The Cottage. The colors were buttery yellow and delft blue.

Mr. Bills referred us to a local home-cooking diner called Barber's Crossing Roadhouse that had exactly the comfort food we craved. In the morning, the gourmet breakfast was perfect fuel to go back to "real life" in style.

I apparently wasn't the only one looking for baggage at DFW!

If you click on the first photo, you can see all my photos on flickr.


wenders said...

Great entry! :) And now I'm glad that you took all of those pictures. I do wish I could live in the Cottage at the Red Maple Inn, though. SO CUTE. (And there were two male knitters...)

I'll be inventory-ing my stash additions soon...

CPAKnit said...

Lovely pictures, like a private tour of the Berkshires. Now I know where to stay when I talk my husband into taking me to WEBS!

Holly said...

What a lovely trip and some good memories made. Doesn't get better than that.

doodlegirl said...

aww. I spent a night there one night a few years ago when one of my songwriter/singer friends held a concert there in Northampton. I'm from Calfornia, so it was quite the trek but it was fabulous. Over New Years and the temps reached a high of 8! :O)