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Thea M. Gray

Knitting on the Coast 2011 Retreat

Two retreats in Camp Meeker, California:

Summer weekend retreat: August 19-21, 2011

Fall weekday retreat: October 12-14, 2011 ? SOLD OUT!
(To get on the waiting list, please send a message.)


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

Geared to advanced beginners and intermediate knitters, these retreats provide a variety of technique classes in a relaxed, supportive setting.


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 



The changing venues of our yearly knitting retreat often help inspire the classes offered. The mottos of this year’s venue, St Dorothy’s Rest, are Go in Peace and A Place to Get a Way. At this year’s Knitting on the Coast retreat we’ll aim to help you find peace in your knitting while providing a fun way to learn new techniques and meet cool knitters!

Tricky increases
and decreases:

Stranded colorwork
in worsted:

... or a lighter
weight yarn:

Twined knitting:



Sometimes even dedicated knitters need time to stretch, take a look around, and do something other than knitting. This year, besides soaking in the beautiful location, admiring the lovely architecture, or wandering among the redwoods (and enjoying the pool during the summer weekend retreat), we're offering a two included extras and one optional extra:

Photographing Your Knitting

In this session, we'll focus on how to make the best possible images of your knitting using your existing digital camera. We'll go over the relationship between shutter speed, ISO, and lens aperture and how a histogram gives you instant feedback on these controls. We'll consider how different kinds and colors of light affect your final outcome, and how to make best use of available or artificial light.

In order to get the most out of this class please bring your camera and its owner's manual! If you have a tripod or an external flash unit, bring those along, too. If you have time to do some homework, read in your owner's manual about exposure histograms and how to view them on your camera's built-in display.

About the instructor: Bill Walker is a wildlife and knitting photographer based in Santa Clara, CA. He has lectured and taught photography at organizations throughout the bay area, including Bay Area Bird Photographers and Wildlife Photographers of Silicon Valley. His work has appeared in and publications of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon society. He publishes a wall calendar of his work each year, available at

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 fabulous birding hikes during the 2009 and 2010 retreats—they were quite a highlight.

Join us this year when they take us on another mellow hike to explore nearby woods or coastline from a birder's perspective. Perhaps you'll find inspiration for future knitting projects in a bird's plummage or the landscape's palette.

Fiber Farm Field Trip

On the afternoon following the conclusion of both retreats, students will have the option of visiting Bodega Pastures, a beautiful 1,000-acre sheep ranch just outside of Bodega (where parts of Hitchcock?s The Birds was filmed), a mere 20-minute drive from St Dorothy?s Rest.

We?ll meet their sustainably raised sheep, see where the sheep are pastured and shorn, watch a little demonstration of cleaning, carding, and spinning fleece, and try hand-dying with a couple of natural plants, including locally growing mugwort, which produces a pretty sage green color.

The price per participant for this optional 2½ to 3 hourlong visit is $25, which includes the tour, instruction time, and a skein of Bodega Pastures yarn to dye.



Day 1

5:30-6:00 pm Check-in and orientation
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
7:00-9:00 pm TRICKY INCREASES AND DECREASES. Ever run across a pattern with an increase or decrease you hadn?t a clue how to execute? We?ll review a bunch of them; submit your choice of challenging stitch before the retreat!

9:00-10:00 pm S'mores under the stars

Day 2

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
9:15 am-
12:15 pm
STRANDED COLORWORK. While making your choice of Thea’s Shipshape worsted-weight pulsewarmers or Kamilla Sl?jdar’s finer-gauge fingerless mitts, you?ll practice simultaneously knitting English and Continental and making smooth, quick traps of the unused strands. We?ll also discuss yarn dominance and ways to make color choices.
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch
1:30-3:00 pm Photographing your knitting
3:30-5:30 pm Birding hike
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
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.

Day 3

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast and group photo
9:15 am-
12:15 pm
TWINED KNITTING. While learning this Swedish technique, you?ll knit one of a pair of pulsewarmers, starting with a traditional cast-on and working through twined knitting, purling, and patterning with the "O" and Crook stitches. Learn how to untwist yarns easily and read twined knitting charts, too.
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch and goodbyes
Optional fiber farm field trip
Nearby yarn shops Some noteworthy LYSs that are open on Sunday include Balls & Skeins, in Sebastapol, Cast Away in Santa Rosa, Knitterly in Petaluma, and Black Mountain Artisans in Point Reyes Station.



This year’s retreat will be held at St. Dorothy’s Rest, situated among the cool beautiful redwoods, situated between the Russian River and Occidental in Camp Meeker, 1? hours north of San Francisco.

Attend the summer retreat, held in the Main House, and you’ll have the choice of a shared room or dorm room.

Main House, home to the summer retreat...

...and location of all meals for summer and fall retreats

An inviting living room...

...and cozy bedrooms

Attend the fall retreat, held in Lydia House, and have the choice of a private or shared room.

Lydia House, home to the fall retreat...

...with its charming living room

Light-filled porch...

...and interior- and exterior-facing bedrooms


All rooms in these beautiful buildings exude simple Arts and Crafts charm and share clean, tidy baths. Those students who do not choose a roommate will have one selected for them. Regardless of which retreat you attend, we will be treated to delicious, seasonal, locally sourced meals from Friday night through Sunday lunch.

During your free time, go on the birding hike, take a stroll in the woods, pop into Occidental, or, if you?re attending the August retreat, enjoy 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, product designer

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

SpinnityWhen Bill Walker isn?t busy taking photographs, he might be found birding with Spinnity, knitting, or playing music. See his birding field notes and photographs at

A sampling of feedback from the 2010 and 2009 retreats:

  • I want to thank you again for a fabulous time!
  • Excellent teaching. Restored my interest in taking classes, after a couple of bad experiences. Also loved the relaxing location.
  • Thank you thank you thank you.
  • The location was beautiful, food was great, teaching was great!
  • I loved everything. I appreciate so much all the energy put into the retreat. I loved all the classes and teachers.
  • 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 the 2010 retreat and from the 2009 retreat.


Retreat participants will receive a sweet little goodie bag. This year's retreat features lovely goodie bag donations from Rita Rodriguez, ArtFibers, Berroco, and Knitting Fever (US distributor of Louisa Harding and many more brands) and door prizes from Bookshop West Portal, Cottage Yarns, Crystal Palace, Imagiknit, and SweetGeorgia.



  • 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
  • Email Thea with the increases and decreases you're most interested in reviewing.


Choice of project:

For a Shipshape Cuff:

  • Size US 4 (3.5 mm) or other size needles to achieve gauge of 5.75-6 stitches and 7 rows per inch of stockinette; choose your favorite needle configuration for working on small projects in the round (double points, two circulars, magic loop, or 9" circular)
  • Small amount of DK weight yarn in two or three colors?one finished pulsewarmer weighs ~15 grams, so this is a good stashbuster
  • Stitch markers (optional, and can be pieces of yarn tied in a slipknot)
  • Tapestry needle or crochet hook
  • Pattern will be provided in class, but can also be downloaded here and seen on Ravelry

Or, for the Rose Mitts:

  • Copy of Kamilla Svanlund's Rose mitt pattern from Ravelry (costs $1)
  • Approximately 30 grams each of two colors of sock, fingering, or sport-weight yarn (~ 300 meters; choose the weight of yarn based on your relative hand size, using sock weight yarn if your hands are smaller than average or sport weight if they are larger than average)
  • Set of 5 dpns 2.5 mm (or needles to obtain gauge of 28 sts and 30 rows = 10 cm (4?) square in stockinette stitch
  • small tapestry needle or crochet hook


  • A digital camera and its owner's manual (let us know if you don't have a digital camera so options can be discussed); if you have time to do some homework, read in your owner's manual about exposure histograms and how to view them on your camera's built-in display
  • A tripod and an external flash unit if you have those


  • Current projects to show and work on during the clinic
  • A skein from your stash to swap


  • One skein of worsted weight wool yarn, preferably light colored. The skein must be wound as a center-pull ball because you will be working with both ends. No single ply yarns! Cascade 220 is a good option.
  • One set of size 3 (3.25 mm) double pointed needles, two circulars of any length, or a needle sufficiently long for the Magic Loop.
  • Stitch markers and either sticky notes or a magnetic board to keep one's place on the chart.



  • A name tag (cool and handmade or just purely functional)
  • Pen, pencil, and highlighter
  • Pad of large sticky notes for masking off sections of charted patterns
  • Binoculars for birding
  • Clothing appropriate for walking in the woods
  • Bathing suit if you are attending the summer retreat and wish to use the pool



Registration for the August retreat is limited to 16; the October retreat is limited to 11. Places will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be confirmed once full payment is received. A waiting list will be maintained once all spots are filled.

Should a student be unable to attend the August retreat and the cancellation is received by July 20, 2011, a full refund less a $50 cancellation fee will be available; cancellations for the October retreat must be received by September 10. No refunds will be available after those dates.



The 2011 Knitting on the Coast retreat instruction and facilities fee is $190, and includes all classes and the birding hike. The fee for accommodations ranges from $200 to $250, and includes 2 nights’ lodging and 6 meals, from dinner the first day through lunch the last day.

The October retreat has sold out. To add your name to the waiting list for that retreat, please send a message

To sign up for the August retreat, either complete the following form and click through to pay with your credit card via PayPal, or (preferred) print out a pdf of the retreat brochure, complete the form, and mail a check, made out to Thea Gray, to 371 Wawona St, SF, CA 94127

To hold a place when paying by check, please send a message indicating that your registration form and check are in the mail. Places not secured by a receipt of a check within a week of notification will be forfeited.  

1) To start registering for the retreat ($190), answer the questions below and then press the "REGISTER" button—you'll need to click "Continue Shopping" on the new PayPal page in order to return to this page and add accommodations.

Sign me up for the following retreat:
I would like info on the Sunday afternoon fiber farm fieldtrip.
2) Add Accommodations:
Please indicate accommodation preferences, noting any dietary requirements and, if picking a roommate, the student's name:
Accommodations options
Wheelchair-accessible room req'd?
Vegetarian meals req'd?
Other dietary requirement(s)
Fellow student name

3) Press Finalize Registration to finish registering.

© Copyright Thea M. Gray