I promised you a blog post dedicated to the First Irish Knitters’ Retreat. Diane (of Chicwithstix fame) has beaten me to it with a great synopsis over at Dublin Knit Collective. So instead, I’ll go through what were the high-lights for me.
First up has to be meeting the wonderful people that also attended. I knew two people in person already: Claire (aka Clarabel) and Mary (aka Fezzik) from our Swords Knitting Knights. I got to know Susy and Diane very well through working together (via email & text message) to organise the weekend; but I only met Diane for the first time a few weeks before and Susy & I only talked for the first time that Friday. Everyone else was meeting for the very first time. It was amazing how so many complete strangers could meet, with only fibre as a common interest, and all “click” so quickly. In no time, we were all chatting together like we’d known each other all our lives.
Our chosen venue, Craig Country House, and its fantastic “bean-a-tí”, Mairead Dempsey, was recommended by the indomitable Kemberlee. It surpassed all my expectations. The house itself was obviously very carefully designed, well built and beautifully decorated. More importantly the food was gorgeous; the atmosphere was so relaxing and cosy; and every detail has been thought through. Mairead was incredibly helpful when the shuttle-bus driver we’d arranged started acting up.
As a gift to Mairead we’d previously asked everyone attending to knit a square that would be sewn up into a blanket. I couldn’t get over the array of knitting (& crochet) styles and techniques that emerged – or the palette of colours. Surprising the overall effect worked. More importantly, Mairead – a Home Economics teacher – was thrilled to receive it.
We organised a few surprises for the other attendees. First of all, we tapped-up (for want of a better phrase) a few suppliers and yarn shops to see in they would be interested in donating samples of their wares that we would assemble into delegate packs. I was overwhelmed by the positive response I got and by the generosity of This is Knit, The Yarn Room and Derryaun Crafts. All they get in return is positive publicity and the opportunity for direct marketing to a target audience. So run on over there and ogle their stuff – but don’t forget to buy! (I’d like to thank them also for having faith that I wasn’t just trying to get enough free fibre to knit and spin myself a jumper!)
I also organised two little yarn-related quizzes. One was based on knowledge I’ve gleamed over the past eighteen months from spending too much time looking up knitting on the Internet. To my chagrin, I thought it would be a cinch! I was a bit shocked at myselfwhen I realised my immersion into the on-line Knitting world is not actually the norm. I think I’ll post it here and see what you make of it. Mind you, I’m not totally on my own: Aisling (aka Hawthorn) won with a pretty decent score and got a Ravelry t-shirt (donated by me).
Above are some pics of people doing the other yarn quiz. I organised ten yarn-ends on a board, labelled A to K (it’s an quirk of draughting never to label anything with “I”). Everyone was given a page with a list of ten yarn names. Most of the yarns were obvious and by process of elimination most people got most of them right. But only three – Claire, Deirdre and Catherine – got all ten correct. A lot of people got their Noro’s mixed up and some even confused Rowan Tapestry with Noro – call the Knitting Police! Our three winners got a pack each of yarn donated by Kemberlee.
Diane became our guide for a foray into drop-spindling. It was amazing to see some people emerge with natural talent. Others (more precisely me) were not “getting” it quite so easily. Susan hit the nail on the head; teasing me that I was an over-achiever who was expecting to just be able to get it perfectly first time. She was spot on! Once I reminded myself to enjoy that I was doing it at all I got on much better. Isn’t it daunting when someone who hardly knows you, knows you?
On the Saturday we all trundled into Galway City for a bit of Retail Therapy. The main highlights here were getting to finally meet Jagnienka, whose blog I’ve been drooling over for months now; and Mairín, who’s as lovely in person as she comes across on Rav. I spent most of the afternoon with Heather and Deirdre in an Internet café: swapping stories, printing patterns, slurping coffee and teaching Heather – a crochetier – how to knit. She started with the Clapotis, no less!
Clap yer hands, say yeah!
That evening we ate at the Tamarind Restaurant in Spanish Arch. Two words for you: go there! The food is fantastic, the staff are wonderful and the atmosphere is just magic. I’m running out of superlatives here! Afterwards we spent some time languishing about the foyer of the Great Southern Hotel on Eyre Square before being bang-on-time for our shuttle-bus / pumpkin to carry us all home at the stroke of mid-night.