I attended the Knitting in the Hills retreat hosted by HCW of Austin in the beautiful Horseshoe Bay Resort almost two weeks ago (how does the time fly so quickly) and had a wonderful time with old friends and new. I had the opportunity to come a day early to set up my grid wall display in the marketplace which was wonderful and meant that I was available to have dinner with all the 'early birds' for the retreat including: Cindy Hallam the organizer, Suzanne Middlebrooks the owner of HCW, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Clara Parkes, Ann Budd, Julie Weisenberger, Shelley Brander of Loops, Meghan Fernandes of Pom Pom Quarterly, Sally Trollip of the WoolDiaries Podcast, Junie B aka Magic Junie and my new friend Pam. What a treat! 

The next morning Dianne Brown aka the Suburban Stitcher and I interviewed the fearsome four (Stephanie Pearl McPhee, Clara Parkes, Julie Weisenberger and Ann Budd). It was as much fun as you would imagine! The ladies were vibrant, enthusiastic and enlightening. I video recorded the interview and will have excerpts available soon. While at the retreat, I took a class from each teacher and found they have such wildly different views on some basic ideas in knitting (seams versus seamless, swatch size, blocking techniques etc). Funny enough though this kinda affirmed what I have suspected all along; there are many ways to happily enjoy knitting and to be successful at it! I loved the industry 'insider' viewpoint of Julie Weisenberger aka Cocoknits on professional finishing techniques and Stephanie's wise tips on almost everything from swatching to blocking and beyond are worth their weight. However, I would say that the class I found most inspiring was Clara Parkes Transcendental Swatching. I left with a new appreciation for swatching and what it could mean for me. In a nutshell, Clara promote's swatching for the sake of swatching alone; that is for the simple pleasure of getting to know a new fiber/blend. Keeping a journal or making notes on a Swatching project page in Ravelry can help any knitter become much for proficient at choosing the right yarn at the right gauge for a project. For me it was permission to start knitting what I have in my stash instead of waiting for the time to knit a larger project. Plus, once I have swatched a yarn I will have a much better sense about choosing the right pattern. Win-win! The rest of the retreat was a blur of chatting and knitting. A great weekend indeed. 


A special thank you to Cindy and Suzanne for a bang up wonderful retreat and to Pam and Dianne who were my roommates and to Sally from South Africa who put up with me all weekend long! 

Stacie Dawson