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Thea M. Gray

Knitting on the Coast 2010 Retreat

This year in Soquel, California

September 24-26, 2010


Join us for a relaxing knitting getaway among the redwoods by the California coast!

Geared to advanced beginners and intermediate knitters, this weekend retreat provides both formal classes and an informal knitting clinic where you can get answers to your knitting bugaboos.


The Knitting Classes * The Extras * The Schedule * The Setting * The Teachers * The Goodies * Class Materials * Other Things to Bring * Retreat & Host Policies * To Sign Up 



“Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

– The White Queen (prior to her transformation into a knitting sheep) to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass

We won’t tackle six impossible things, but this year’s Knitting on the Coast retreat will tackle three projects that merely seem impossible:

Traveling stitches:
cabling without a cable needle

Moebius knitting:
knitting an object with
two sides but one surface

knitting two fronts at
the same time

Sample from Lisa Myer's
Traveling Stitch Legwarmers

Cat Bordhi’s Your First Moebius
by Melissa Harris

Eline Sander’s doubleknit
Rainbow Scarf by Suzanne Curry



All knitting all the time—well, actually that sounds pretty great, but sometimes even dedicated knitters need time to stretch, take a look around, and do something else. This year, besides taking advantage of what Land of Medicine Buddha has to offer (pool, sauna, masseuses on site, nearby hiking), we're offering a few optional extras:

Morning Meditation

The Land of Medicine Buddha follows the same Tibetan tradition of Buddhism as the Dalai Lama. Peter O’Donnell, who once worked at the Land of Medicine Buddha and has been a practicing Buddhist for 35 years, has offered to lead guided meditation in the Pavilion on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and to be generally available to answer questions about Buddhism during our knitting retreat.

Most important, he says, we will be there to relax. He encourages us to bring an open heart, no expectations, and to see what we might experience as we immerse ourselves in the vibration of Buddhism.

Afternoon Yoga

Amy Mathews will be teaching a one-hour all-levels class geared to knitters' needs, making sure to include poses that will gently stretch our hands, arms, shoulders, and backs.

Of her practice, Amey says: "I love learning about all the different expressions and forms of yoga, which has led me to study Kundalini, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Anusara, Jivamukti, and Iyengar styles of yoga."

"In teaching yoga, it is my goal to impart to my students a sense of enthusiasm, curiosity, and acceptance towards their practice. I try to share the elements of yoga which have most held my attention, and which have helped me to feel increasingly optimistic about myself, others, and the world at large with each year that I practice yoga."

You can learn more about Amey and her practice at her website.

Birding Hike

Besides being a serious knitter, Spinnity is a serious birder, and so is Bill Walker, who also happens to be a serious nature photographer. Bill (below, far left) and Spinnity (below, far right) led us on a fabulous hike during the 2009 retreat—it was quite a highlight.

Join us this year when they take us on another mellow hike to explore nearby woods or coastline (or who knows, maybe both!) from a birder's perspective. Perhaps, as some did last year, you'll find inspiration for future knitting projects in a bird's plummage or the landscape's palette.



Friday, September 24

5:30-6:00 pm Check-in and orientation
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner on site
7:00-9:00 pm TRAVELING STITCHES. This intro to traveling stitches (mini cables or twist stitches) will allow you to cable without a cable needle! We will be swatching a small traveling stitch design. Pattern will be provided in class.

Saturday, September 25

7:30-8:00 am Optional morning meditation
8:00-9:00 am Breakfast on site
9:30 am-
12:30 pm
MOEBIUS KNITTING. The moebius technique uses a variation of the invisible cast-on (useful for other projects, too) to make a mind-bender of an object. We’ll start Cat Bordhi’s snugly Your First Moebius, which can be either scarf or shawl depending on your gauge, from her Second Treasury of Magical Knitting. Use some stash yarn!
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch on site
1:30-2:30 pm Optional afternoon yoga (Price TBD)
2:45-4:45 pm Optional birding hike ($5 per person)
5:00 pm Depart for dinner in town
8:00-10:00 pm A good ol’ FASHIONED STITCH ‘n bitch , knitting clinic, and yarn swap! Bring projects to show and work on, plus a skein or two from your yarn stash to swap. Bring your pesky bugaboos – maybe a swatch with recurrent mistakes that you want to learn to fix.

Sunday, September 26

7:30-8:00 am Optional morning meditation
8:00-9:00 am Breakfast on site
9:00-9:30 am Packing-up time and group photo
9:30 am-
12:30 pm
DOUBLEKNITTING. Doubleknitting allows you to knit two fronts of double-thickness stockinette fabric simultaneously and offers an opportunity for practicing knitting two-handed, Continental and English, in the same row. We’ll start Eline Sander’s nifty Rainbow Scarf.
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch on site and goodbyes
Afterwards Noteworthy nearby yarn shops open on Sunday include The Golden Fleece and The Swift Stitch in Santa Cruz & Yarndogs in Los Gatos.



This year’s retreat will be held at the Land of Medicine Buddha, situated among the cool beautiful redwoods, near the coasts of Capitola and Santa Cruz.

You’ll have your choice of simple, cute rooms with private en-suite bathrooms or cozy yurts and tent platforms nestled in the trees with shared full baths. Students may stay on their own or share with one or more fellow students—and may even bring a friend while space allows.

Yurt among the trees

"Cabins" with solo or shared rooms

Cute, bright rooms with private
en-suite baths

The pavilion where classes will be conducted


With the exception of dinner at an omnivore’s restaurant on Saturday night, we’ll be treated to delicious, seasonal organic vegetarian meals from Friday night through Sunday lunch.

During your free time, take advantage of the optional additional offerings such as a birding hike, yoga, or morning meditation—or just take it easy and enjoy a stroll in the adjacent Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, a massage, a sauna, or a dip in the pool.

Lots of cool knitters and a beautiful setting. What more could you want on a nice fall weekend?



Thea Gray teaches knitting at BookShop West Portal in San Francisco. She began knitting in third grade and has barely stopped since, even flying 6000 miles in a weekend to polish her couture techniques. Known for bountiful patience, Thea loves teaching the joys of knitting. You can find her on Ravelry as knitOrama.
Thea creates a warm, welcoming environment, in which I feel very comfortable asking for clarification or repetition. She's a great listener, and creatively adjusts her teaching style to the needs of her students, depending on their level of experience.

— Jenny, MLA

Not only is Thea a patient and thorough teacher, she's enthusiastic and skilled in many different knitting techniques. She's helped me go beyond merely following patterns.

— Rachella, freelance writer and editor 

Thea's terrific! She's not only knowledgeable but also incredibly patient with all our mistakes. Her humor and demeanor make both the classes and the drop-ins a great experience.

— Jeanne, rookie knitter 


SpinnitySpinnity?designer of Larus & Ardus?spins, birds, and knits in the SF Bay Area. She has a bad habit of combining hobbies ?in the field,? which sometimes leads to muddy knitting projects and broken dpns. She blogs at

A sampling of feedback from the 2009 retreat:

  • Thank you so much for putting it all together, it was magical.
  • Had a fantastic time. Thank you!
  • I had such a great time! Thanks for all the hard work you put into such a fun weekend.
  • I am definitely interested in all your retreats. You really are a fabulous teacher.

...and a few photos from that retreat.


Participants in the retreat will receive goodies generously donated by the likes of Be Sweet, Crystal Palace, Jimmy Beans Wool, Rita Rodriguez and Knitting Fever (US distributors of Debbie Bliss products), and have the chance to win door prizes from Bookshop West Portal, Imagiknit, Yarn Boutique and Cast Away.



  • Any smooth, light-colored yarn and needles (straight or circular) in size recommended for that yarn; wool or wool-blend yarns are recommended for their stretchiness
  • Pattern will be provided in class


  • A copy of Your First Moebius pattern from Cat Bordhi’s Second Treasury of Magical Knitting (pgs 10-15)
  • Materials described in the pattern
    • 164 yards (150 m) bulky yarn (or 2 or more strands of a smaller yarn)
    • a US size 10 (6.0 mm) or other diameter long (47-60") circular needle to get gauge of 10 stitches per 4 inches


  • Current projects to show and work on during the clinic
  • A skein from your stash to swap
  • If you wish, bring projects or swatches that include errors you'd like to know how to correct, and yarn and needles for swatching


  • A copy of Eline Sander's Rainbow Scarf pattern
  • The materials listed in the pattern, or similar yardage of another yarn with slow transitions between long color repeats and the corresponding recommended needles



  • Pen, pencil, and highlighter
  • Pad of large sticky notes for masking off sections of charted patterns
  • Yoga mat (optional; yoga mats will also be available on-site)
  • Binoculars for birding (optional)
  • Clothing appropriate for yoga and hiking (optional)
  • Bathing suit if you wish to use the pool or sauna



Retreat registration is currently limited to 12. At a minimum, all participants must be able to cast on, knit and purl (and distinguish between the two by sight), and bind off. Places will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be confirmed once full payment of retreat and accommodation fees is received.

A waiting list will be maintained once all spots are filled. Should a registrant be unable to attend and the cancellation is received on or before Friday, July 31, 2010, a full refund less a $50 cancellation fee will be available. No refunds will be available after that date.

Our host organization, Land of Medicine Buddha, requests that people observe their five precepts while on-site: no killing (includes insects); no lying; no stealing (borrowing without asking permission); no sexual misconduct (any sexual activity that will cause suffering to another being; no intoxicants (includes alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes).



The 2010 Knitting on the Coast retreat instruction and facilities fee is $175. Accommodation fees range from $98 to $276, and include 2 nights’ lodging, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 1 dinner. Saturday night’s dinner will be off-site and is not included in the fee.

Participants should be on site no later than 5:30 pm on Friday, September 24; driving directions will be provided.


The 2010 Knitting on the Coast retreat has sold out. To add your name to the waiting list, please send a message Thank you for your interest!

© Copyright Thea M. Gray