This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Sun Valley Fibers January Thaw Retreat in Middleton, WI for the very first time. I have never attended a knitting retreat before so it was quite exciting! The retreat went from Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning and was full of activities.
The gorgeous goodie bags we received at check in
Hotel check in was Thursday at 3pm, so I left my parent’s house to drive to Madison around 1pm. When I arrived to the hotel, I checked in and met one of the women in my group. We then proceeded to find a table for our group in the conference room since we were the first two women of our group to arrive. Most of Thursday was spent knitting and catching up, and checking out all of the gorgeous yarn and new colors that Sun Valley Fibers had in the marketplace. Once everyone arrived, we decided to go to Noodles and Company for dinner. After dinner we went back to the conference room to knit and snack until bedtime. One of the women even brought cannoli for us to eat after dinner. I’ve never had a cannoli before, so I branched out and tried it. Cannoli are so delicious!!
The yummy cannoli 😍
Friday was also a day full of knitting, relaxing, and shopping. The hotel had a breakfast buffet with some of the best poached eggs. I have never tried poached eggs before, so I decided to branch out and try one. Poached eggs are definitely not for me haha. The yolk was creamy and liquid and the white was squishy, a very interesting and unusual texture haha. On Friday, I also had a Beyond Basics Brioche class with the designer and teacher Bristol Ivy in the afternoon. I am relatively comfortable with brioche so the class was easy for me because I knew most of what she was teaching. Bristol was a lovely teacher and so laid back and fun! The group decided to go to Sprecher for dinner on Friday night. When we got back, we participated in the fashion show and I was able to show off the all lace Rue Shawl by Bristol Ivy that I knit out of Sun Valley Fibers MCN Fingering in the Blueberry Crumble colorway. On Friday I also did a bit of shopping at the marketplace. I knew I wanted two sweater quantities but I had such a hard time choosing two out of the four pattern choices I had printed out. In the end, I decided on two skeins of MCN laceweight yarn in the Geranium colorway to knit a Watershed sweater by Bristol Ivy and three skeins of MCN fingering in the Kensington colorway to match with a gorgeous skein of Casual Fashion Queen to knit a Zweig sweater by Caitlin Hunter. As part of our goodie bag, Jeanette and George also let us choose a free skein of yarn from the marketplace. I chose a skein of MCS fingering in the new color, Renaissance.
SVF MCN Laceweight for a Watershed pullover
SVF MCN Fingering for a Zweig
Saturday was a laid-back day. We ate breakfast at the hotel buffet then headed into the conference room to get our knit on. The marketplace was finishing at 6pm, so around 4 or 4:30, everyone started to look at yarn to see if there was anything they had missed before the marketplace closed. I found two beautiful skeins of BFL DK yarn to knit an Aurelia cowl by Hilary Callis Smith. We had leftovers for lunch and walked over to Zupas for dinner where we ate sandwiches, salads and soups. I also tried creme brulee for the first time on Saturday. A woman from our group said I would have to go to a fancy restaurant to try a real creme brulee because the Zupas dessert wasn't the same as the original. After dinner, I participated in a Get to Know You/My Favorite Things gift swap. I brought a Home Row Fiber Co tote bag as my swap and I received freshly roasted coffee, BBQ sauce, and sweet red wine from Missouri, which was awesome!
SVF BFL DK weight yarn for an Aurelia Cowl
On Sunday morning, we ate breakfast and packed up. We didn’t have to check out until noon, so many of us stayed a little later to knit together. During the weekend, we decided that we should all knit Birkin by Caitlin Hunter to wear to January Thaw 2019. Some women had yarn already, some bought yarn at the retreat, and a few are buying yarn after the retreat. One woman is using two colors for her Birkin. One woman is using a gradient set for the colorwork on her Birkin, and some are using the same colors as the original sample for their sweaters. I think I want to knit my Birkin out of Quince and Co Finch. Because we are basically all the same size, most of us are knitting the 40″ size for the sweater.
Birkin Pullover by Caitlin Hunter
I brought three knitting projects with me to work on throughout the weekend: My Sunset Highway Sweater which is a work in progress, and yarn for a Briochealicious shawl and Vanilla socks, which were not started before the retreat. On Thursday evening, I cycled through each of the projects because I didn’t know what I wanted to knit. I spent most of the weekend working on my Sunset Highway Sweater. One of the women saw that my colorwork floats were a little too tight and told me she could show me an easier way to knit colorwork. On Thursday we decided to rip out my sweater and have me restart it. The new way I learned involved holding my CC in my left hand and my MC in my right hand. I am a thrower, so it took me a long time to get used to holding yarn in my left hand, but I was comfortable with it by the end of the weekend. I also started vanilla socks during meal times, but didn’t get much progress on it. I didn’t start the Briochealious shawl during the weekend. Next year I will probably bring only a vanilla sock and a sweater WIP because I didn’t even touch the shawl yarn I brought with me.
I had so much fun at my very first knitting retreat and I am so thankful to Jeanette and George of Sun Valley Fibers for allowing me to attend their retreat. Jeanette and George pour their heart and soul into this retreat, and it definitely shows. It is a relaxed retreat where attendees are able to do as much or as little as they choose. There are also a number of yarn stores in the Madison area that were a short drive away that many people went to. I am so excited to return for January Thaw 2019!