Vermont, Beauty in Nature, Mindfulness, Eating, Knitting, Meditating, Eating and some more Knitting and Eating.
Vermont in the Fall is as wonderful as you can imagine it to be. It was the perfect setting for the Mindful Knitting Retreat this past October 12-15th.
My journey from Colorado to Vermont was a long one, starting early, and I mean EARLY on the morning of the 10th. My traveling companion was my 2 3/4 year old son, Zane. I thought getting a toddler up and at ’em at 4:30 would be nearly impossible, but he did very very well, as long as he had his Lamby.
What other favorite toy for the kid of a yarnie and knitwear designer? I was not in such great shape at 4:30 in the morning. You dont’ get to see me. Zane was to spend a couple weeks with his Grandma and Granpa in Upstate New York while Momma engaged open hearted knitters in mindfulness, and then went off on a book tour for my fabulous new book Nature Babies – which was released just in time for the Retreat and The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival, which is really known as Rhinebeck. But the book tour and Rhinebeck are for next time. Now it’s off to the airport.
Zane has always been a fabulous traveler. See how he’s so happy on the airplane (this was not the case on the way home). His first big trip was to BEA (Book Expo America, the BIGGEST book buying, selling, swagging, celebrity author sighting industry event in the world!) when he was just barely five months old to promote Mindful Knitting. Having a cute baby with you is a BIG draw to get people into the booth.
We went on another excursion later that year when he was an adorable nine months old to Stitches East, (where be purchased Lamby (known to some as “Lambhchop” from the Devine Ms Linda Pratt) and to Rhinebeck (my first time – Oh My God). This is when I first met Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and we stayed with the quiet Buddhists at the serene Sky Lake Lodge. Read her great archived blog post about it here (scroll down to October 18th, 2004 – it will be well worth it). So many fiber folks and yarnies fondly remember that cute little baby in the baby carrier from those “early” days.
Now, in these later days, the Toddler Zay-B needs to be corralled, so off to Grandma and Grandpa’s he went, and I drove over to Vermont the next day, stopping by Middlebury on the way to see my friends at O-Wool. I arrived safely, but very tired at Highland Lodge in Greensboro just after dark, where my wonderful friend (and wonderful literary agent) Linda Roghaar made me Oatmeal for supper, infusing me with a little mom vibe, and we both went off to sleep.
Our participants arrived the next day, happy to meet one another, and to enjoy the first of what would be many wonderful fantastic and delicious meals together. Did I mention the food. Dinners are also our fun time to chat and chat and really get to know each other.
Did I mention the dessert? On this table you may first focus on the happy faces, then you will see Chocolate Mousse Parfait, Butterscotch Sundaes (with Ben and Jerry’s of course – yes, I had to mention the Butterscotch Sundae), Cobblers, and the Lodge’s signature dessert involving a chewy brownie, ice cream, whipped cream and hot fudge.
At the Mindful Knitting Retreat, our mornings are filled with guided introduction to Mindfulness Meditation Practice, and Mindful Knitting. After a yoga session, we take a mid-day break and enjoy lunch (more wonderful food) walks, sightseeing, knitting, napping, and so on.
The first afternoon I taught a technical knitting class featuring two color two handed knitting. My knitters ROCK, they all picked it up in a flash.
Then we continued to use our new-learned technique to make wonderful little hats with wool graciously provided by O-Wool, which, as always would be donated to a nearby shelter and halfway house. As we knit on our projects we discussed the ideas of Mindful Knitting, and how charity knitting elicits mindfulness, the beauty of a stitch or fiber absorbing the intention of the knitter, and the way it brought us all together. And the HATS. Each one unique, beautiful, unexpected –
Saturday morning we began our day with a walking mediation through these woods. Magical.
Our Saturday afternoon was graced by Margaret Klein Wilson of Mostly Merino Yarns, who led us on a wonderful and very powerful journey of journaling as a mindfulness tool and a method of preserving both project information, intentions, stories, and memories of the person for whom you knit.
Then there was more eating – at what has come to be known as our Saturday Banquet. . .
following by a joint booksigning with myself, Linda (Creator and co-Editor of the KnitLit series) and Margaret (Knit Lit Contributor and author of The Green Mountain Spinnery Book). This would be the view of the book-signees from my POV.
Such a joyful time. Upon parting, there was hugging, a few tears, and even the choice to change a plane reservation to make sure not to miss a thing. The Retreat just keeps getting better and better. This Fall we had folks joining us from North Carolina, Pennsylvania and California! I thank all of you participants, past, present and future for making the Mindful Knitting Retreat so unique and so heartfelt. I will be very glad to see you all again.
My journey next took me to New York, taking the train from Albany to Penn Station and a whole new adventure. Talk about shaking up your consciousness, three days of mindfulness and meditation in the woods of rural Vermont, and the next evening I’m strolling down 14th street at Union Square. But that’s for next time. In the meanwhile, the mid-trip reports were that Zane didn’t miss me (not unexpected if you know Zane), had a BLAST ridding in Grandpa Bob’s shiny new truck and spent his days rather mindfulfully throwing rocks into the Lake. May all beings enjoy profound and brilliant glory – on the knitting needles, on the cushion or throwing rocks.