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Thea M. Gray

Knitting on the Coast 2013 Retreat

A retreat in Camp Meeker, California:

Friday, November 1-4, 2013 ? SOLD OUT
(To be added to 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 offer 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 



This year?s theme is the examined knitting. We?ll look closely at the details large and small that go into knitting a good cardigan, practicing on a small sample to make a big impact. We?ll get up close and personal with short-rows, conventionally used for three-dimensional shaping, to see how you can make sinuous flat curves. And we?ll take three approaches to achieve the same end: adding beads to our knitting. All because, as we know, the unexamined knitting is not worth working! We hope you'll join us this November!

Stitch 'n bitch'

Cardigan techniques

Beading beautifully

And three options for exploring short rows:

Turbulence Cowl

Short Wave Mitts

Mixed Wave Mitts



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.

Post-Retreat Field Trip

On Monday afternoon following the conclusion of the retreat, students will have the option of taking a short (half-hour) but informative tour of Valley Ford Mercantile and Wool Mill, a brand new mill where local North Bay fiber growers and textile producers can have their wool processed. We will take a look behind the scenes to find out how create their woolen products on their cool machinery, like Big Blue—a 15,000 pound behemoth that happens to be the only steel needle loom West of the Rocky Mountains. Plus we can shop in their mercantile at the front of the mill!



Friday, November 1

2:30-4:30 pm Pre-retreat kayak trip (optional extra)
5:30-6:00 pm St Dorothy's Rest 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.

Saturday, November 2

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
9:00-11:00 am CARDIGAN TECHNIQUES, Part 1. We?ll assemble our mini cardigan by joining the sides with mattress stitch, grafting the shoulders together, and sewing in the sleeves.
11:15a-12:15 Zumba. A great optional extra to get you moving more than just your needles.
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch
2:00-5:00 pm FUN SHORT-ROWS. You?ll knit your choice of one of Sybil Ramkin?s stylish mitts, either the Short Wave mitts or the Mixed Wave mitts, or Laura Chau?s Turbulence Cowl while you practice a technique that?s also great for improving fit.
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
7:00-9:00 pm BEADING BEAUTIFULLY. We?ll design a beaded name tag, decorative pin, or bracelet and learn three ways to add beads to knitwear: prestringing, with a crochet hook, and sewing.

Sunday, November 3

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
9:30 am-noon Birding hike
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch
1:30-4:30 pm CARDIGAN TECHNIQUES, Part II. Having put your mini sweater together, we?ll now cut the body apart (aka steek it!) before picking up stitches for button plackets. We?ll also discuss blocking.
4:45-5:45 pm Zumba! (optional extra)
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
8:00-10:00 pm STITCH 'N BITCH: SWAP! Work on retreat or other projects and trade a skein or two with your fellow knitters!
9:00-10:00 pm S'mores under the stars

Monday, November 4

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
9:00-9:30 am Group photo
10:00 am-noon RETREAT UFOs. We?ll wrap up loose ends and revisit retreat topics you want to practice.
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch and goodbyes
Optional post-retreat field trip
Nearby yarn shops Some LYSs worth checking out on the way to or from the retreat—or during your downtime—include: Bluebird Yarn in Sausalito, Balls and Skeins and Yarnitudes 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 Friday's dinner through Monday's 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 formerly taught knitting at BookShop West Portal in San Francisco, and now leads drop-in sessions at the bookshop every other Wednesday evening. 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

SpinnityJeanine Mattson is the retreat?s fun factotum and enotech extraordinaire. An amateur birder, Jeanine is the very kind soul who makes sure everyone at the retreat has what she or he needs.

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 goodie bags with lovely donations from Berroco, Crystal Palace, Knitting Fever (US distributor of Katia, Noro, and many others), Article Pract, and Cast Away Yarn, and door prizes from Berroco, Bluebird Yarn, ImagiKnit, 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 and shoes appropriate for walking in the woods or on the beach
  • Flashlight for walking to and from dinner, s'mores, etc
  • Robe and slippers for walking to the bathroom
  • Bathroom toiletries



Registration for the 2013 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 October 1, 2013, a full refund less a $50 cancellation fee will be available. No refunds will be available after that dates.



The 2013 Knitting on the Coast retreat instruction and facilities fee is $245, which includes all classes, the birding hike, and beading materials. The fee for accommodations is $285 or $335, depending on room selected, and includes 3 nights’ lodging and 9 meals, from dinner the first day through lunch on the last day. The optional pre-retreat kayak trip is an additional $25 and Zumba classes are $5 each; both can be paid for on-site by cash or check.

The 2013 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 sheep behind fence, stitch 'n bitch gathering, 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