Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Alice's Knitting Retreat , Part 1 - The Place

Yikes! Where did the days go? I've been knitting and reading and surviving yet another SoCal heat wave, and haven't followed up my posts about the reason I went to Vancouver this year: Alice T's fabulous knitting retreat on Salt Spring Island (SSI). Bad knitter, bad!

Alice is a wonderful knitter and extraordinarily patient teacher whom I met via the Elann Chat Center; she holds annual knitting retreats, with a different technique being featured each year. This year it was modular knitting, using ideas from Iris Schreier, Ginger Luters and Nora Gaughan. In the photo, she's modeling a tunic sweater of her own design, with modular squares making up a central front panel (there's a herringbone panel on the back)

The retreat can manage about 8 knitters, with accomodations in a lovely B&B farmhouse on a working sheep farm at the north end of Salt Spring, a lovely island just off the south-central coast of Vancouver Island. Pictures are of the farmhouse, showing the deck and the view to the west, across the channel separating the two islands. For less than the cost of a decent hotel room for a week, Alice provides all meals, on-island transport, and a week's worth of knitting instruction, fun afternoon outings and lovely knittery days. The food is fabulous, prepared by Jenny, the retreat's chef (shown here with her usual impish grin), and while you get 5 meals daily (breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea and dinner - with wine), she serves right-sized portions and lots of veggies, so weight gain isn't much of a problem. Though Jenny does make some luscious desserts; the best was this orange-chocolate cheesecake, just big enough for the 7 of us eating that evening.

There's only one knitting shop on Salt Spring, in Ganges (detail map), the main town, but Stitches Quilt Shop has a very good selection of yarns, including some brands I don't see in the SoCal area. We found plenty of fiber goodies to bring home or to add to the yarns we brought for our projects at the retreat.

Part of the fun in visiting Salt Spring in the summer is their weekly Saturday market, full of gorgeous hand-crafted items and yummy food treats. There are more than 20 artisans on-island with studios open to a self-guided tour, and even more show up at the market. There is also an artisan's collective, with top-quality art, jewelry, woodworking and fiber crafts on display year-round. The SSI woodcrafters are particularly well known for their work with the lovely reddish arbutus wood (known in the US as madrona). Some of the bowls in this shop's display are turned to less than a ¼in thickness.

DH and I are both fans of hand-crafted items from beautiful woods, and I brought home a lovely bowl from my first visit to SSI, in 2005. This year I fell hard for this little box made from a red-maple burl. The actual color is between that shown in the two pictures.

There are so many photos I want to share with you that I'm dividing this post into two, with the second part being about the knitting itself and the fun knitters who were a part of this retreat.


smariek said...

Oh my, I'd go just for the food! lol. I just don't see that cheesecake serving 7. I think I have different ideas when it comes to dessert portion sizes.

Cindy G said...

I think I'm with Marie on the cheesecake portion, though maybe if it came at the end of the fifth meal of the day...

TracyKM said...

It looks so wonderful! Every year I read your reports and wish I could go. Maybe next year?

Firefly Nights said...

This sounds like it was a lot of fun. Too bad I'm on the East Coast. It would be an awesome week.