I went to my first fibre retreat ever over the weekend (actually, a four-day weekend, including Valentine’s Day, which struck me as ironic). The organisers of the retreat did a great job, given that the hotel was being renovated, with some of the restaurants and public spaces closed, and workers crawling over much of the rest of the hotel’s public spaces. It was run just like a tutorial-style conference, with three-hour classes where the instructor talked a bit, showed a technique (for technique classes) or samples of end results (for the artistic ideas classes), and then got you to try it out while they came around and helped. There were lots of tables set up for informal get-togethers, outside the classrooms and the marketplace.
The differences to tech conferences were obvious — not a laptop to be seen, although I’m sure some people went back to their hotel rooms at the breaks to blog or check email, given that many people appeared to work at local technology companies, and the male/female ratio was even more skewed than for most tech conferences (I saw about five men at the retreat, out of about 200). The marketplace was busy selling as well as showing (unlike exhibit halls at most tech conferences), though the vendors looked just as exhausted by the end of the four days as I can remember being after long days on the booth at any other conference.
I learnt a lot (I’ll post more details of the knitting highlights on my crafting blog), saw a bit of Tacoma (where the retreat was held), met a few people, and hung out a lot with Eve and Yvonne. Culinary highlights included a yummy dinner at Wild Ginger where we downed a good bottle of champagne (Inflorescence Blanc de Noirs brut, 100% pinot noir, from Jean-Pierre Bouchard and Cédric Bouchard), Eve’s home-made borekas, and a good quick tagine, which I’ll be making again.
I’m slowly catching up on sleep; just like any conference it was pretty intense and was both invigorating and exhausting at the same time.