Dare to dream. Imagine what you’d most like in a knitting retreat, then brainstorm ways to make it happen. Ideas from friends and potential attendees are helpful, but if you’re the primary organizer, be true to your own vision. Susan Giacomini Allan’s advice: Just dream about the most possible fun you can have knitting—with your best buddies and favorite teacher—then invite them to your party!
Start planning (and publicizing) early. Finding and booking a venue and developing a program take time, particularly if you’re dreaming of convening in a popular spot or hiring an in-demand instructor. And don’t forget that your attendees need adequate notice to fit your event into their schedules and budgets. Every organizer I spoke with emphasized the need to plan well ahead of time.
Get help. There are myriad administrative details and other tasks involved in making an event happen; don’t be shy about delegating to friends who’d like to help you. The staff of your venue will help you with the logistics, particularly of catering and accommodations, so ask for their advice and employ their services to the extent your budget allows.
Be realistic about budget. Your attendees will be splitting the costs of the venue, instructors and presenters, and food—as well as paying their travel costs and lodging. Plan on a scale that you know your guests can comfortably pay for. Your attendees will most likely be drawn from your knitting peers, so your own financial comfort level is probably a good yardstick. Remember that limitations spur creativity; your budget could inspire you to dream up a fabulous new kind of retreat.
Size up your guest list. Two factors will decide how big your retreat can be: the capacity of the venue you choose, and the class size your instructor prefers. It’s likely that your instructor(s) will want small enough classes to allow for individual attention, and your attendees will appreciate it as well.
Show and tell is always a winner. Set aside some time to let people show off what they’ve been working on lately and discuss the new techniques they’ve learned. Make it a formal part of the program so that attendees know to bring something for show and tell. Sheryl Hill of the Minnesota Knitters’ Days says they have a Saturday night “show and share,” when everyone brings their completed accomplishments, which provides inspiration and ideas for everyone.
Plan for some variety, and leave some downtime. People have limited attention spans, especially for absorbing new information—so alternate workshop sessions with time for socializing, stretching legs, and unwinding. You’ll likely find, though, that your attendees will knit straight through meals and breaks! A field trip or presentation on a related topic, maybe history and lore of your retreat center or fiber animals raised locally, is a nice break from instruction.
We hope you enjoy your summer! See you soon!