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Thea M. Gray

Knitting on the Coast 2018 Retreat

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

Saturday to Tuesday, November 10-13, 2018; REGISTRATION IS 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 retreat theme came about by wondering about the big picture. Or, to quote Burt Bacharach and Hal David, "What's it all about, Alfie?" Some folks conclude it's the little things in life that make you happiest. (Especially when the big-picture things seem to be going to hell in a handbasket.) As a result, this year's retreat packs in a bunch of small projects, little tips and tricks, and petite techniques designed to put a little pep in your step! Behold!

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


stitch marker pendant instarsia knitting jogless stripes and motifs recycled knitting needle jewelry mosaic slip-stitch knitting knitting backward
STITCH MARKER PENDANT. You'll make tiny useful tools, accessible in a convenient, pretty, pearl-studded pendant. INTRODUCING INTARSIA KNITTING. Practice plunking a design in the middle of a knitted item with one of Jessica Biscoe's Knitty Critters: badger, bear, wolf, doe, stag, or fox. JOGLESS STRIPES AND MOTIFS. Elevate your skill set by practicing the secret to near-seamless stripes and stranded motifs while making a wrist- or armwarmer. RECYCLED KNITTING NEEDLE JEWELRY. We'll turn festively colored vintage anodized aluminum knitting needles into fun, eye-catching, conversation-starting jewelry. MOSAIC SLIP-STITCH KNITTING. Create colorful geometric patterns using just one color at a time. Make Ambah O'Brien's graphic Zarah pendant or cheerful mug-rug coaster. KNITTING BACKWARD. Great on short rows, narrow knits, edges & Frankie Brown's 10-Stitch Blanket!

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.



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.


Saturday, November 10

3:30 pm Arrival at St Dorothy's Rest
4:00-5:30 pm STITCH MARKER PENDANT. Stitch markers free up valuable brain space you would've needed to determine your place in a pattern for more important things, like bringing about world peace or figuring out where you left your keys. While making these pretty pearl-embellished stitch holders, which will dangle together from a necklace, you'll learn the fundamental beading technique of wire wrapping, as well as how to use a small brulee torch to make your own headpins.

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.

Sunday, November 11

8:00-9:30 am Breakfast followed by group photo
9:45-11:45 am Birding hike
noon-1:00 pm Lunch
1:00-3:30 pm INTRODUCING INTARSIA KNITTING. Intarsia allows you to plunk a design into the middle of a knitted item without carrying yarn all the way across the row. You may associate it with cute kids' projects—like a sweater with a truck or heart or dino on it—or Elsa Schiaparelli's iconic bow sweater from the 1920s, but it has also been used to make super modern graphic designs. In class you'll practice intarsia by making your choice of sweet woodland Knitty Critters (badger, bear, doe, stag, wolf, or fox) designed by Jessica Biscoe.
4:00-5:45 pm JOGLESS STRIPES & STRANDED MOTIFS. Have you knit a hat in the round, in stripes or stranded colorwork, and found that at the start of a new round, the pattern jumps a bit? Slightly but still quite noticeably? Did you perhaps assume it was the nature of the beast and there was no way to fix it? We're happy to say, that's not so! In class we'll make a little wristlet with stripes and a stranded motif that will allow you to practice these techniques to bring your knitting to the next level.
6:00-7:00 pm Dinner
7:00-9:00 pm STITCH 'N BITCH: THE YARN WHISPERERS. Bring an orphan skein (or two) and we'll tell you what we think it wants to be knit into.
9:00-10:00 pm S'mores under the stars

Monday, November 12 (Veterans Day observed)

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
9:00-10:30 am RECYCLED KNITTING NEEDLE JEWELRYThe popularity of straight anodized aluminum knitting needles was somewhat overtake by that of circular needles and straight needles made of other materials, like bamboo and milk protein. This class is all about the pure joy of turning these festively colored needles, far more prevalent during a previous knitting heyday, into a fun, eye-catching piece of jewelry sure to start a conversation with a fellow knitter.
10:45-11:45 am Zumba! A fun optional extra to get you moving more than just your needles.
Noon-1:00 pm Lunch
2:00-5:00 pm MOSAIC SLIP-STITCH KNITTING. Mosaic knitting, popularized by Barbara Walker in the 1960s, is a fast and fun way to add colorful, geometric patterns to your projects while only handling one strand of yarn at a time. You'll find this technique used in striking hats, bold tunics, cardigans with embellished mosaic cuffs, and playful washcloths, to name just a few. In class, you can make either a triangular Zarah pendant by Ambah O'Brien or (if you aren't fond of small-gauge needles, picking up stitches, or i-cord edging) you can make a graphic mug-rug coaster.
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.

Tuesday, September 13

8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
10:00 am-noon KNITTING BACKWARD. Knitting (and purling) backwards allows you to work a row from left to right, instead of from right to left. Or put another way, you can knit on straight needles without ever needing to turn your work. You might not need this technique frequently, but it's super handy when making a large project (like a big blanket with a narrow border), a very small project (like a bowtie, headband, or bookmark), or something with short rows. In class we'll practice it with a version of Frankie Brown's 10-Stitch Blanket, making a sample you can enjoy as a mug rug or expand into a pillow or even a blanket.
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 (check the hours before you go!) include: Yarnitudes in Sebastapol, Cast Away in Santa Rosa, Black Mountain Artisans in Point Reyes Station, Fiber Circle Studio in Cotati, Black Squirrel in Berkeley, and ImagiKnit in San Francisco.



The 2018 retreat will be the seventh 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 Saturday's dinner through Tuesday's lunch.

During your free time, go on the birding hike, take a stroll in the woods, pop into Occidental to browse the cute shops, 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. 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 sharing 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:

  • The workshops were really informative. I loved every single one. I especially found the color theory lesson challenging and rewarding and learned a lot in how to choose colors for colorwork. The whole retreat was really great.
  • All classes and the group of people were really nice. I think it was the best retreat that I've attended.
  • A lovely time indeed! I loved the variety and the addition of a jewelry class! The teachers put so much preparation and thought into the classes and it showed. Thank you.
  • 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. This year's contributors include new San Francisco yarn store Firebird Yarns.


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 2018 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 before September 10, 2018, a full refund less a $50 cancellation fee will be available. No refunds will be available after that dates.



The 2018 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 $466 or $520, depending on room selected, and includes 3 nights’ lodging and 9 meals, from dinner the first day through lunch on the last day. The joint materials fee for the jewelry classes is $25. The Zumba class fee is $5 and can be paid for on-site by cash or check. The on-site massage rates are $17 for 10 minutes, $22 for 15 minutes, or $27 for 20 minutes; massages can be paid for on-site by cash, check, or Venmo.

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 copyright kikirodgers (Jessica Joy's intarsia fox), Amy Pfaffian (recycled jewelry), Ambah O'Brien (Zarah mosaic necklace), Frankie Brown (10-Stitch Blanket). Most others are copyright Bill Walker. All images are copyright their respective owners and should not be used without express written permission.

© Copyright Thea M. Gray