Traditionally, our retreat is the second weekend in November. Although we have had many locations for our retreat, including The Cove in Lake Geneva, WI and the Radisson in Des Plaines, IL., over the last four years, we have hosted our retreat at the Warren Woods Inn in Union Pier, MI. The Warren Wood Inn is a large family home with 12 rooms/suites. There is a large commercial kitchen to prepare food and a wraparound porch which is nice if the weather is warm. The inn is within walking distance of the Lake Michigan shoreline and is about an hour and 45 minute drive from Mount Prospect (traffic dependent).
We meet on Friday evening for an old-fashioned pot luck dinner. Guests bring everything from their favorite crock pot recipe to a delicious dessert to a special bottle of wine. With all the great foods, we never go hungry! After dinner, we retreat into the family room, often referred to as the “sun room”, to knit for the evening with new friends.
On Saturday morning, the MYS staff prepares a scrumptious pancake breakfast along with June’s sticky buns and then, the main event begins. During the Saturday morning workshop, students learn a new skill. The theme of the workshop varies each year. We have covered Fair Isle Knitting, Counterpanes, Estonian Lace Knitting, Slip Stitch Knitting, Colorwork in the Style of Kaffe Fasset and Entrelac Knitting, to name a few. This past year, 2013, we concentrated on Double Knitting. The workshop includes a brief history of the technique, demonstrations of new concepts and some exercises to reinforce the learning. The teacher/student ratio is approximately 4:1, allowing for a lot of individual attention. Lunch is usually the leftovers from the pot luck and on Saturday afternoon students continue to work on their projects or chose a more advanced project based on their skill level or desires. Our customers never cease to amaze us with their projects. As the afternoon wraps up, we take a poll on who wants to go to the two local wineries and who wants to go out to dinner. Some guests prefer to lounge around in the family room and enjoy the uninterrupted knitting time. Other guests enjoy dinner at one of the many local restaurants.
On Sunday morning, some of the early birds gather one last time to knit, laugh and share stories. We are always sad for it to be over. Yet, we begin planning for the next year. What should we teach? What do our customers want to learn? How much can we challenge them?