Thursday, November 16, 2006

Processing.... Processing....

Okay, I lied. I promised "stuff" pictures today. I will post those tomorrow, Blogger-, schedule- and God-willing. Or maybe not until this weekend. Saturday is our extended-family Thanksgiving, so that day is shot as far as getting other stuff done. So the next post may not be until Sunday. And then, by God, I will shut the hell up about the KR Retreat. Or not.

Today's post is really long and wordy, with no pictures, and so you have my permission to skim it or just skip it altogether. Seems that when I finally find my words, I really find them. You may be wishing I'd lose them again.

This week I've been reminded of when I was house-hunting twelve-thirteen years ago, (wow - I've lived here a long time). I was a first-time homebuyer, and it took me 18 months and three real estate agents before I found the house I eventually bought and in which I currently reside. Early in the hunt, I found a "perfect" house after just a couple of months, but my first agent screwed up that deal and the seller backed out. He was no longer my agent after that. The second agent was really no better than the first, but I struck gold on the third. Lesson learned: there is definite merit in a word-of-mouth reputation. Trust the advice and experiences of those you respect. And when someone you respect recommends a real estate agent, a hairdresser, or a doctor, listen to them and heed their advice. I'm a relatively intelligent and independent person, but I don't (and can't) know it all. It took me awhile to realize that. I chalk that up to the ignorance and arrogance of youth.

But I digress.

When I was house-hunting, after an agent would show me a house, they'd want instantaneous feedback from me on what I thought of the place -- thumbs up or thumbs down, and why I did or didn't like it. If the house was "almost" but "not quite" what I wanted, I found that processing my gut reaction and moving that reaction up to my cerebral cortex and then out through my mouth was especially difficult to do. I walked through many, MANY houses, and there were more than several that met nine-tenths of my requirements and therefore should have been on the short list for making an offer, but something held me back, and I couldn't quite articulate why. There was obviously something not quite right with those "almost" homes, something significant enough to be a deal-breaker, but I had such a hard time being able to quickly pinpoint what that was. Looking back, I think I needed time to process everything I saw at the house, (and the ten others I saw that same day), and make a mental (and perhaps physical) checklist to determine if I could see myself living in that place. But, 100% of the time, when my gut wasn't thrilled with the house, I didn't make an offer on it. And 100% of the time, when the house was right for me, I knew it immediately - often as soon as, or even before, I walked through the front door. The adage "you'll know the house that's right for you when you see it" really is true.

I tell this to try and describe what I think is some kind of mental defect I've struggled with all of my life -- my inability to instantaneously understand and articulate my reaction to certain overwhelming situations. It's like still having a 386 processor when the world requires a 2.2 Ghz Pentium-4 cpu and 2 GB of RAM. Clearly, I need a brain upgrade.

Take, for example, this past weekend at the KR Retreat. My poor little head is still processing all that happened there. And even after reading Clara's thorough report of the weekend, the event still hasn't become "mine" for me. The pictures I've posted are just a small fraction of the experience. In my head, much of it is still a globular jumble of people and knitting and new friends and spinning and yarn and food and beautiful countryside and silence and noise and laughter. Therefore, I'm going to write a play-by-play trip diary, and see if that sorts it all out for me.

So here goes.

Friday, 11/10/06
  • 6:00 am: Woke too early, but too excited to sleep anymore. Showered, finished packing.
  • 8:15 am: Groome Transportation arrives to take me to the airport. I love these guys. If you live in the Richmond area, they are hands-down the best way to get to and from RIC. I've used them so frequently that many of the drivers know me (and my address) upon sight.
  • 8:45 am: After checking my bags, I meet up with Lou and Beth in lobby area, before we go through security. No issues.
  • 10:00-ish am: Our flight departs. I'm too excited to knit or do anything except look out the window.
  • 11:15-ish am: Our plane begins its descent. I am lucky enough to be on the left side of the plane, so I have a fantastic view of Manhattan (for picture-taking!) as we approach LaGuardia.
  • 11:30 am: We de-plane, get our bags, hop on the Avis shuttle and pick up the rental car.
  • Noon-ish: We get two different sets of directions from Avis people. Girl inside Avis says to take the Deegan. Mike at the booth as we drive away says, don't take the Deegan -- go to the GW Bridge to Palisades Parkway. We agree that Mike's way is better -- he swears it will cut an hour off of our commute.
  • Noon-thirty-ish: Before heading on our way, we drive across the street to the gas station that sells hot food and soup and sandwiches. We have a decent lunch and then head out.
  • 1 pm: We're on our way. Boy, there seems to be a back-up to the approach to the GW Bridge. Could it be because there seems to be 20 lanes of traffic coming from all directions and trying to merge into two lanes?
  • 1:30 pm: Whoops -- we miss our exit. Maybe this nice toll-taker can help. He can -- he gets us back on our way, along the Harlem River. Hey -- there's Yankee Stadium! Take a picture! See -- there's benefits to getting lost!
  • 2:00 pm: At last we're on the beautiful Palisades Parkway -- who knew New Jersey and New York were so pretty?
  • 2:30 pm: Navigator Beth notices on the map that we're driving through Orange County. THE Orange County of Orange County Choppers. We discover we have a mutual love for the show American Chopper and decide that we'll have to stop by there on our way out on Sunday.
  • 3:00-ish pm: We arrive at Jeronimo's resort. Clara is outside when we pull up -- it's my first time meeting her. She's so cute and nice! Oh, and there's Bess, who runs down the hill and gives us all a big hug. What a nice welcome! We go inside, meet "Marfa" who registers us, and are then given keys and shown the location of our rooms. We lug our bags to our rooms, unpack and emerge to socialize with everyone already there. I meet my cabin "neighbors" Cindy and Mindy, who are so nice and welcoming. We hang out on their front porch until it gets too dark and cold, and decide to move down to one of the main buildings.
  • 4:30-ish: I run into Bess again at the lodge building, and she talks me into picking up a few things from the swap room. Heh heh. Boy, people have de-stashed some really nice stuff. Their loss, my gain!
  • 5:00-ish: In the other main building, I meet my roommate, Meg, who already has her spinning wheel up and spinning. I sit with her, take out some knitting, and we chat until dinnertime. I'm relieved that she's very laid back and cool -- definitely my type of person.
  • 6:30 pm: Dinner. If I remember correctly, the menu was chicken and sausage 'n peppers. Dessert is apple pie ala mode. The food at every meal was fresh, hot, homemade, tasty and filling. The dining room is too small to seat 80 people, but we all manage.
  • 8:00 pm: The weekend officially begins, and we go around the room introducing ourselves, where we're from, who taught us to knit, and show our greatest success and worst failure. I brought my "butt-ugly scarf" (failure) and my felted Plymouth Sinsation scarf (success). I was staggered by the variety of beautiful things people brought to share -- lovely lace shawls; fantastic aran, fair isle and intarsia sweaters; gorgeous blankets -- just amazing stuff. The evening was very long and painful for me, as I was extremely sleep-deprived and was sitting on a rock-hard wooden bench for four hours. But it was definitely worth it -- I loved being introduced to everyone that way and seeing what they brought to share. It really was a lot of fun.
  • Midnight: I go back to my room, post some pictures to the blog and fall asleep around 1 am. Sometime in the middle of the night I wake up freezing. I need to put on socks or something, but don't want to wake up Meg. I lay in bed and try to warm up, marveling at the dead silence of the place. So different from my own noisy city neighborhood. I fall back asleep 'til morning.

Saturday, 11/11/06

  • 7 am: Woke too early (are you sensing a theme here?). Showered and got ready for the day.
  • 8:30 am: Breakfast -- eggs, bacon, pancakes. Yum. I try to sit with different people at each meal, so I can meet more folks. There are lots of what we southerners call "Yankees" (New Yorkers, New Jersey-ites, New Englanders, etc.) at this retreat. I love Yankees. They say it like it is. So refreshing.
  • 9:15 am: Group picture outside. A necessary evil. ;-)
  • 9:30 am: Classes begin. I'm taking the Moebius class from Cat Bordhi. The cast-on seems mysterious but eventually, with Cat's and other knitters' help, becomes easy-as-pie. I am a slow learner but once I get it, it all makes sense. I'm set back a bit because the connector for my Denise needle cables has separated, ruining my first cast-on. I start over after Amy generously loans me one of her KnitPicks Options circular needles -- a bonus, since I now know what they're like to knit with, and my review is: Not Bad! A definite competitor w/ Addi Turbos. No matter what needles you use, though, knitting the first round of a moebius is a lesson in patience over frustration. Cat is really a good teacher -- funny, sweet, gentle and patient, and although her method of explanation may seem simplistic to some, it really helped me. I'm kicking myself for not buying Cat's book before I came, so she could sign it. No luck later in the day -- none of the vendors have it. I ended up buying it from Amazon when I come home. Across the hall, folks are taking a class from Teva Durham (of Loop-d-Loop) on Short Rows. As I'm not yet a garment knitter, I'll learn that technique on some future date. By lunchtime, I've got the hang of moebius knitting with my practice yarn, and am ready to start with the Fiesta LaBoheme I brought specificially for the project.
  • 12:30 pm: Lunch. Something yummy -- can't remember what, but I enjoyed it.
  • 2:00 pm: The vendors are here! The vendors are here! I spent a good deal of time perusing the wares of Katonah Yarn, Morehouse Merino and SpiritTrail Fiberworks. From Katonah I buy two hanks of Handmaiden SeaSilk, a 40" US size 9 Addi Turbo for my moebius, and a 40" pink (!) cable for my Denise set. The girl from Katonah Yarn recognizes me by the pin I'm wearing which she saw on my blog -- she's a lurker! How thrilling is that?! You just never know who reads these things. At the Morehouse "booth", I fell in love with their Cider Jacket, but not the color they have in the kit, so I vow to buy the pattern with perhaps different yarn, from their website. I spend a looooong time mulling things over in the Spirit Trail booth, before finally deciding to buy some silk roving. I was inspired after reading Robin H.'s experiences knitting with silk caps, so I thought the roving should work, too. I just need to figure out what to use it for. Perhaps as part of a moebius. I tell ya, I love the moebius. I love the design possibilities there. As Cat says, it's a wonderful "playmate", leading you into new knitting adventures. But I digress. Where were we? Oh yes -- shopping. I bought one more thing -- a book called Knitting Memories: Reflections on the Knitter's Life, which is a collection of essays from various people such as Lela Nargi (editor), Clara Parkes, Teva Durham, and Lily Chin. Lela, Clara and Teva were all there to sign my copy. I'll have to remember to bring it if I ever think I'll run into any of the other famous knitters in the book.
  • 4:00-ish: After I dumped my recent stash enhancements in my room and freshened up, I met up with my cabin neighbors Mindy and Cindy again, and we watched the day wane on their porch while knitting, chatting and sipping wine. I think those quiet porch experiences were some of my favorites of the weekend.
  • 6:00-ish: It's gotten chilly and dark outside, so we move down to the lodge in anticipation of dinner. It's already crowded and noisy with knitters scattered around on various couches and in chairs and at the bar.
  • 6:30 pm: Dinner. Lasagna - yum! Dessert is cheesecake - yum again! Happy-happy tummy.
  • 8:00 pm: We gather in the other building for an informal evening of knitting and spinning. A few folks are given drop-spindle and wheel lessons. I work on my moebius. One of the attendees, Elaine, is the new editorial director at the company who publishes the books for Vogue Knitting, and she brings a couple of new, yet-to-be released books. We have fun being the first ones to flip through them.
  • 11:15-ish: I go back to my room, post more pictures to the blog, and fall asleep around midnight.

Sunday, 11/12/06

  • 7 am: Up too early again. Shower, get ready, and pack.
  • 8:30 am: Breakfast. Great, as usual.
  • 9:30 am: Everyone meets in the other building for our "New Beginnings" session. First, we write a letter to ourselves about what our knitting goals will be for the coming year. My letter starts to look like a New Year's Resolution list, and that's okay. It's always good to have goals. If I don't meet all of them next year, perhaps some future year. I turn in my letter to Clara, who promises to hand them back to us at the next retreat, or else mail them to us if we don't attend the next retreat. Next, we cast on for our "New Beginnings" project -- something that is to be for ourselves and is to be more challenging than what we usually knit. I brought the Fiber Trends "Bobble and Braid" hat pattern which has lots of cables in it. I hadn't bothered to read the pattern or swatch for it prior to the weekend, so am very unprepared. The nice older lady sitting next to me, who is an admitted cable expert, helps me figure out the pattern and how to swatch for it. I begin my swatch. I end up doing more visiting than knitting, and don't get very far on my swatch. I decide that it's okay to not get very far on it today, as long as I try and finish up within the next year. As I have much Christmas knitting ahead of me, it will have to wait until after the holidays.
  • 12:30: Lunch. This was one of the best meals of the weekend -- homemade chicken noodle soup -- some of the best I've ever had. Sandwiches on homemade bread. Perfect meal for a rainy day.
  • 1:30 pm: Jennifer of Spirit Trail opens up her trailer for an end-of-retreat sale. I buy a skein of the merino laceweight that I fondled for an hour but resisted the previous day. I fondle it today for a half-hour before succumbing to yarn pressure. Resistance is apparently futile.
  • 2:00 pm: Beth, Lou and I pack up the car and head back to LaGuardia. On our way, we find Orange County Choppers' retail shop and have a blast running around the store. I buy a couple of things, which I'll show here in a day or so. We secretly hope that the Teutuls show up, but no such luck.
  • 3:00 pm: We get a little lost on our way back to NYC. The map we got from Avis wasn't entirely accurate. A few helpful strangers get us back on the right track.
  • 3:30 pm: We stop at Target so that Beth and Lou can each pick up a duffel to store all the yarn they got over the weekend.
  • 5:00 pm: We're approaching the GW Bridge, and traffic is slow. It's starting to get dark and is raining harder.
  • 6:00 pm: It took us another hour to find our way to the airport amidst slow traffic, confusing signs, and an intimate relationship with the Triboro bridge. At one point we even got on the Long Island Expressway by accident. (At least all those roads we'd only heard about on Seinfeld and Sex and the City are now very real to us.) We finally make our way to Avis, and jump on the waiting shuttle bus. Beth and Lou madly re-pack their bags and re-distribute the yarn wealth to their new duffels. There is some question as to whether they'll make it to their gate in time. I learn the next day that their flight got cancelled.
  • 6:30 pm: I check in, pick up some airport dinner, and head to my gate.
  • 11:00 pm: My 8 pm flight finally takes off after numerous delays due to weather. I knit on my moebius the entire time I was at the gate, and my hands ache by the end of the night. I remember why I don't like fatter metal (inflexible) needles. I need to switch back to my plastic (flexible) Denises at some point.
  • 1 am: Home Sweet Home.

Whew -- that was a lot of typing. And now that I've captured the details of the weekend, I'm still not sure if I've captured the essence of it. I think Clara may have done a better job in that. Perhaps that's why she makes a living at writing.

I think I would like to go to this retreat again next year, but am old enough to know that it may not work out, for whatever reason, so I'll just be cautiously hopeful. But if I do go, I'd like to take the Thursday extension, as well -- I think that might give me a little more time to take it all in.

I will now end this lengthy post. You may breathe a sigh of relief, that is, if you made it this far!

Note: For pictures and additional posts about the retreat weekend, go here, here, here, here and here.)


Anonymous said...

Hey Mary!
Thanks for sharing your weekend. WHY! I felt as if I had been there too. Don't I wish. Maybe next year. Can't wait to see your finished mobius.

Sorry to be anonymous but ...
Can't remember my darn password as I am on my new computer and the old one always KNEW my passwords.

Jane said...

That was wonderful! You filled in a lot of my blanks!

Suzanne said...

WOW! I know what you mean about processing. It can take ages!

Bess said...

I know just what you mean about trying to take it all in. That's one reason I try to have the "next" day off after the retreat. I'm always so dizzy after that much excitement.

It was tremendous fun, though, wasn't it?

many hugs

rho said...

you did such a great job of describing it all -- I haven't even attempted it yet on my blog -- I'm still porcessing it all and can't believe it was a whole week ago..

Beth said...

Like Rho said, you did a great job here. Maybe I'll just refer my handful of blog readers over to your place to read all about the retreat!

It was great to have you travel with us. I'm glad you were able to make it and had a good time. Here's to hoping we can do it again next year!

Robin said...

That was fun!! Feels like I went to the retreat right along with you!