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Thea M. Gray

Knitting on the Coast 2012 Retreat

A retreat in Camp Meeker, California:

Fall weekday retreat: October 18-21, 2012 ? 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 theme of this year's knitting retreat is new directions. We'll explore beginnings and endings with cast-ons and bind-offs, go forward and backward with entrelac, introduce you to new ways to select designs that suit your figure, and, while making a great-looking hat, revisit the topic of a past retreat, micro cables, while going both this way and that with short rows! And, as always, we'll seek inspiration in nature when we head out for a bird hike. We hope you'll join us this October!

Stitch 'n bitch'

Scalliway micro cable
and short row hat

Fashioned to

Knitting back
for entrelac



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) have been leading us on fabulous birding hikes since the 2009 retreat—they have always been 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 Sunday afternoon following the conclusion of the retreat, 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, and enjoy a workshop conducted by Hazel.

More details will be forthcoming!



Thursday, October 18

5:30-6:00 pm Check-in and orientation
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
7:00-9:00 pm STITCH 'N BITCH: SHOW AND TELL. Bring some projects to show your fellow knitters and projects you want help with.

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

Friday, October 19

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
9:15-11:15 am Birding Hike
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch
2:00-5:00 pm SCALLIWAG HAT. This great hat pattern by Erica Jackofsky combines an opportunity to learn (or refresh your memory of) techniques for micro cables and short rows (including the wraps).
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
8:00-10:00 pm KNITTING BACK FOR ENTRELAC. Backwards knitting? No, not tinking, knitting from left to right, which is a handy technique for short-row projects, such as the wee entrelac pouch we'll make.

Saturday, October 20

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast and group photo
9:15 am-
12:15 pm
COUNTLESS CAST-ONS. Maybe not countless cast-ons, but we'll try Jeny Staiman's Stretch Slipknot cast-on, a couple provisional cast-ons, and Judy Becker's Magic cast-on!
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch
2:00-5:00 pm FASHIONED TO ADVANTAGE. Bring a fitted top to be photographed in and fave handmade or purchased sweater and we'll help you to identify what sweater shapes and sizes suit you.
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
8:00-10:00 pm STITCH 'N BITCH: SWAP! Work on your micro cable hat and trade a skein or two with your fellow knitters!

Sunday, October 21

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast and group photo
9:15 am-
12:15 pm
BUNCH O' BIND-OFFS. We'll tackle a bunch of bind-offs, including suspended, Jeny Staiman's surprisingly stretchy, sewn, tubular, and three-needle!
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. We'll be staying in Lydia House, where students will have the choice of a private or shared room.

Beautiful Lydia House

...with its charming living room

Light-filled porch...

...and interior- and exterior-facing bedrooms


All rooms 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. We will be treated to delicious, seasonal, locally sourced meals from Thursday night through Sunday lunch.

During your free time, go on the birding hike, take a stroll in the woods, pop into Occidental, or just hang out and chat with fellow knitters.

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 recent 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.


This year's retreat participants will receive great goodie bag donations from Crystal Palace and from Knitting Fever (US distributor of Louisa Harding, Noro, and many others) and door prizes from Berroco and Bookshop West Portal.


A list of class materials and homework will be sent to all enrolled students.


  • 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



The retreat is limited to 12. 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 retreat and the cancellation is received by September 20, 2012, a full refund less a $50 cancellation fee will be available. No refunds will be available after that dates.



The 2012 Knitting on the Coast retreat instruction and facilities fee is $225, and includes all classes and the birding hike. The fee for accommodations ranges from $270 to $320, and includes 3 nights’ lodging and 9 meals, from dinner the first day through lunch the last day.

The 2012 retreat has sold out. To add your name to the waiting list for that retreat, please send a message

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Photos of redwood tree, stitch 'n bitch gathering, entrelac pouch, Spinnity, and Bill are copyright Bill Walker. All other images are copyright their respective owners and, like Bill Walker's images, should not be used without express written permission.

© Copyright Thea M. Gray