Nothing can get a good knitting getaway down. At least not anything weather-related.
Last Thursday, 100 knitters gathered on the campus of the St. Andrew’s Sewanee School in the gentle mountains of Tennesee’s Cumberland Plateau, for the second annual MDK Knitting Getaway. As in 2018, our retreat for knitters served as a weekend kickoff to two weeks of fantastic art and craft classes at Shakerag Workshops, on the same campus.
Our host was the indomitable Claire Reishman: potter, horsewoman, knitter, founder of Shakerag Workshops, and force of nature.
Claire Reishman, fashion plate, always rocking the handmade wardrobe. In this case, a Shakerag Top and Alabama Chanin swing skirt.
One of our main purposes in organizing the Knitting Getaway was a simple one: we wanted to share Claire. From the first hug to the last poem, she lifted us up.
As for any event where people have to sleep and eat, space was limited. We were sad when a couple of people had to cancel at the last minute, but overjoyed when their places were taken by knitters who’d hung tough on the waiting list until the very end and managed to get themselves to the mountain in time.
Our teachers were a joyful, sassy bunch.
Donna Brown guided us as we painted sock blanks with natural pigments.
As we daubed with Donna’s well-worn Japanese brushes, and diluted cups of dye to the shades we wanted, Donna enlightened us on where these pigments came from in nature, and how they traditionally have been used.
Advanced bartending skills required.
A dyeing class will win the photo contest at any workshop. That’s just the way it is.
Sunne Meyer’s class was an introduction to something new for most knitters.
Sunne taught the basics of the Alabama Chanin method of hand-stitching to create beautifully embellished fabrics and garments.
Her own weekend wardrobe was a live-action promo for the technique. At the end of class, many people had a single, exquisite square of stitching to sew onto the back of their souvenir project pouch, for easy identification.
Jillian Moreno’s class brought out our inner camper, as we used cardboard tablet looms to weave cuff bracelets, bedazzled as desired.
Campers Nell, Amy, and Ellen, temporarily hypnotized by Jillian’s electric spinning wheel.
The last class on Saturday included spontaneous disco dancing. All classes included laughter and learning about yarn construction.
Everyone, and we mean everyone, wanted Jillian’s mustard linen apron.
Ann Weaver taught a short intensive on making knitted braids, using her Braid-o-rama cowl as the starting point.
Ann’s inventive brilliance as a teacher was turned up to 11, and we are now officially braid-crazy.
As a Special Surprise, we had a floating fifth teacher this year: Max Daniels came!
Max walked and knit among us, dispensing self-care wisdom as only a life coach can.
In sharp contrast to 2018’s sunny heat, it rained pretty much nonstop all weekend. This cut the traffic to the swimming hole down to practically zero (Jillian could not be stopped—understandably, as she had a new swimsuit), but otherwise the weather didn’t hold us back. We still hiked Shakerag Hollow (mud be damned), bike-toured Sewanee and the University of the South’s beautiful campus, shopped at Mooney’s and at the Fringe Supply Co. pop-up that appeared like a vision on Saturday, and relished our crack-of-dawn restorative yoga sessions with Robie Jackson. (Some of us did the extra-restorative form of yoga known as Sleeping Through Yoga and Just Showing Up For Breakfast.)
The food was grand. The staff was inspiring to all, constantly positive and present to help. We parted from each other with sadness, but with renewed optimism about life and each other.
And that’s what a getaway is for.
Up top: a mad mix of photos from Saturday night’s raucous fashion show, courtesy of Knitting Getter-away Judi Jetson, our paparazza. Thank you to everyone who paraded their Shakerag Tops, their Norah Gaughan Sweaters, their Sail-Away Shawls, and most of all themselves.
Wondering about next year? The next MDK Knitting Getaway will take place from June 11-14, 2020. We will post all the details and signup information later this summer, probably in August. Fear not: we will announce it loudly. Due to the limited space, admission will be by lottery as in years past, but there will be an ample window of time to enter. Sign up for Snippets so you don’t miss a thing!