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Thea M. Gray

Knitting on the Coast 2015 Retreat

A retreat at St Dorothy's Rest in Camp Meeker, California:

Thursday to Sunday, September 10-13, 2015 REGISTRATION OPEN!

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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 


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.

This year's theme is get a clew. See that lady above, handing that soldier a ball of yarn? Well, that's Ariadne giving Theseus a clew in a painting by Niccolo Bambini. The OED defines a clew as

"A ball of yarn, etc, used to trace a path through a maze (as in the Greek myth of Theseus in the Labyrinth); a thing which guides through perplexity, a difficult investigation, an intricate structure, etc."

This year we'll help you find new ways to get where you want to be with your knitting.

As usual, classes will be punctuated with opportunities for participants to swap tips with other knitters, seek solitude, see some birds, even dance your butt off—all amidst the beauty of the redwoods.

We hope you'll join us this September to enjoy:


Viking knit bracelet Garter plaid sample balls and skeins of different kinds of yarn
VIKING KNIT. Like nålebinding, Viking knit predates knitting by three centuries and has you pulling loops through loops without knitting needles. Guest teacher Rita Rodriguez will show us how to use this ancient technique to make a beautiful silver bracelet. GARTER PLAID AND COLOR THEORY. With Franklin Habit's plaid collar as our point of origin, we'll weave our way through color theory and a deceptively difficult-looking plaid technique to create a cute coaster—and maybe a more playful attitude toward color. THE YARN WHISPERER: YARNS' ESSENTIAL NATURES. What does that skein want to be? Something lacy? Cable-licious? Some subtle, smooth stockinette? In this short talk with samples, you'll learn what certain yarns lend themselves to being.



Birding Hike

Besides being a serious knitter, Mary Wisnewski is a serious birder, and so is Bill Walker, who also happens to be a serious nature photographer. Bill (below, far left) and Mary (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.


Thursday, September 10

5:30-6:00 pm St Dorothy's Rest Orientation
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner and introductions
7:00-9:00 pm STITCH 'N BITCH: SHOW AND TELL. Meet (or reconnect) with fellow retreat-goers and bring a knitted item for show and tell.

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

Friday, September 11

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
10:00 am-11:00 Zumba! A fun optional extra to get you moving more than just your needles.
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch
2:00-5:00 pm VIKING KNIT. Like nålebinding, Viking knit predates knitting by three centuries and has you pulling loops through loops without knitting needles. Guest teacher Rita Rodriguez will show us how to use this ancient technique to make a beautiful silver bracelet.
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
7:00-9:00 pm STITCH 'N BITCH: THE MDs ARE IN. Bring a failing unfinished object (UFO) and we'll work to resuscitate it. Or just hang out to hear both cautionary and cheering tales of rescuing projects gone awry.

Saturday, September 12

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
9:00 am-11:00 Birding hike
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch
2:00-5:00 pm WEAVING A WAY. Using Franklin Habit's Plaid Collar as our point of origin, we'll weave our way through color theory and a deceptively difficult-looking plaid technique to create a lovely little coaster and maybe a more playful attitude toward color.
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
7:00-9:00 pm STITCH 'N BITCH: SWAP! Tonight bring a thing or two (skein, tool, book, or other) to swap. And maybe enjoy an optional extra, a short massage from an on-site masseur.

Sunday, September 13

8:00-9:30 am Breakfast followed by group photo
9:00-9:30 am Group photo
10:00 am-noon THE YARN WHISPERER. In this short talk with samples, you'll learn what certain yarns lend themselves to being.
12:30-1:30 pm Lunch and goodbyes
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, and Yarnitudes in Sebastapol, Cast Away in Santa Rosa, Knitterly in Petaluma, Black Mountain Artisans in Point Reyes Station, and ImagiKnit in San Francisco.



This year's retreat will again be held at the beautiful St. Dorothy’s Rest, situated among the cool beautiful redwoods between the Russian River and Occidental in Camp Meeker, 1-1/2 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, shaded setting. What more could you want on a lovely fall weekend?



The founder of Knitting on the Coast, 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 as well as occasional classes in Oakland. 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, 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, writer and editor 


Mary Spinnity Wisnewski Rita Rodriguez Bill Walker
Spinnity—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. Find her on Ravelry as spinnity. Rita Rodriguez has been making jewelry for more than 25 years. For this retreat, she's combining her love of jewelry-making and knitting into one super fun, easy project. When 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 door prizes and goodie bag items from generous local yarn shops and national yarn distributors. Past contributors include:


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


  • 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 and for doing Zumba!
  • Flashlight for walking to and from dinner, s'mores, etc
  • Robe and slippers for walking to the bathroom
  • Bathroom toiletries



Registration for the 2015 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 August 12, 2015, a full refund less a $50 cancellation fee will be available. No refunds will be available after that dates.



The 2015 Knitting on the Coast retreat instruction and facilities fee is $245, which includes all fiber classes and the birding hike. The fee for accommodations is $305 or $355, depending on room selected, and includes 3 nights’ lodging and 9 meals, from dinner the first day through lunch on the last day. The Zumba classes is $5 and the on-site massage is $1 per minute; both can be paid for on-site by cash or check.

To sign up for the retreat, please print out a pdf of the retreat brochure, complete the form, and send a message to Thea to receive the mailing address and hold your place until your check arrives. Places not secured by a receipt of a check within a week of notification will be forfeited.  

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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