Camp Socktopus!

Drove back last night from a weekend in Norfolk learning at the hallowed socks of Lucy Neatby. Goodness, it was such a great weekend, I am not sure where to start! All the amazing and lovely people, the gorgeous (albeit rainy and for the most part pretty lightless) Norfolk countryside, and of course, Lucy’s brain bursting sock knitting class.

Diane & I left at 10 am Friday morning, with a couple stops along the way to pick up Nora, Emilie, and drop off the flip chart at a very accomodating hotel reception along the M11 (which Tricia angel that she is picked up in her car on the way up), and finally at noon we were out of the London orbital, and on our way to Norfolk. With the stop for lunch, we were still able to get to the Waitrose in Swaffham by 330pm to do some grocery shopping. We ended up calling a cab to take the groceries as they wouldn’t fit in my hatchback, which was a good thing as the light was fading and we had no idea where the Barsham Barns (where we were staying) were. The cabbie lead the way, but at some point we decided to put faith in technology, rather than a local (i blame the foreign air, not at all our own silliness), and went a different direction. Oops. We got lost, and had to double back to find the right route. The roads were pitch black, and narrow, and not a little scary when one has no idea where one is going! We made it though, and found our cabbie wearing a headlamp unpacking all our groceries into one of the three barns we had booked. Good idea that headlamp, I will remember it for next time!

Soon all our intrepid sock kniters were arriving for the weekend – and we settled in the main building catching up with familiar faces and getting to know the new ones. I have to say, the group was perfect – a great mix of personalities, all eager to learn, a perfect balance. We had a little stash swap the first evening, which was a hoot to watch. I imagine a drug deal would go down somewhat in the same vein – sort of casual/covert checking out of what is available, then huddled together in the corner negotiating the trade in hushed voices, and finally the almost imperciptible swap of goods… after a while the trading became more open, wares were displayed in full view on the main table, and those a little shyer about the swapping came out too. I bet David Attenborough would have had a good laugh narrating the scene!

Some great meetings too: Nicola from Cheshire and Emilie from London met for the very first time in person, though having been friends online for a while. I met Sue & Elaine from the Knitting Hut (Sue had some absolutely gorgeous Lang Alpaca in a beautiful red… yumm!). It was amazing to meet in person people I’d chatted with online – Heather, Hattie, Joy, Roo & Janet. It will be so nice to be able to picture them and hear their voices when chatting on Ravelry. Bekky was a force of nature – I’d love to have seen her whipping sauna-ing Finns with a birch branch!

The other 9 made the trek up from London (and Reading and Brighton!) and it was lovely to see everyone again too – Nora, Diane, Jane, Justine, Sally, Jen, Tricia Hailey & Alex – though as usual the time was simply not enough to have done all the visiting I would have liked! It had been ages since I’d seen Jane, Justine, Sally, Hailey & Alex so it was a real treat to spend some time with them.

We started bright and early on Saturday morning with Lucy who was like a technicolor rainbow in the dreary grey of the morning. Over 6 hours of classes we had our brains stretched and stuffed and pummelled and stretched some more. Channel Island cast on, perfect grafting, Lucy’s very clever modified chain bind off, garter stitch heels, ergh I can barely remember it all.

I was knackered by the evening – what with the extended use of my poor little brain! We went to a local pub – well, actually, we pretty much took over the local pub. We pulled up in a five car convoy and filled up their parking area, then went into and took over the back room and then the bar as we queued to place our orders for drink and food. The pub was sweet and luckily lived up to the reviews I had read. Nice and easy, and casual for a group of slightly dazed knitters. Lucy’s sister Eleanor and her friend Karen also joined us for dinner after their day of sightseeing. The area sounded wonderful – will have to go back when it is warmer and more importantly, drive around during daylight hours so as to be able to see the sights rather than after dark. There is a big shrine, called The Shrine, in Walsingham near where we were staying, that would have been fun to visit.

Saturday night was a cozy night – we congregated in Long Meadow, another barn and Bekky brought out her spinning wheel which whooshed softely as the bobbin when round and round. After messing up the bind off of my little cardi hood twice, I decided to call it an early night and went back to my room and zonked out.

Sunday it literally bucketed it down, but that was fine as we were all safely ensconsed in our makeshift classroom learning tubular bind offs, cast ons, more perfect grafting, some awesome little stitches and decorative bind offs and cast ons, and tips and tricks that I know I will be using again and again. Lucy used her Sock Techniques 1 & 2 DVDs as visual aid for teaching, which was highly effective. This class was even more mind blowing than the first, if that can be possible, and by the end of it, I really felt as shell shocked as everyone else seemed to look.

This was the first retreat I’d planned and organised, and I have to say I am really pleased with how it turned out. There were definitely things I would do differently (full spectrum UV lights for the class room, especially for the evening when the light just wasn’t very good would be a good start!) and maybe the location, but frankly for company and just plain good times, it is going to be hard to top. A huge thanks to Lucy for coming out, and for all the lovely eager sock knitters who joined us. Knit on!

3 thoughts on “Camp Socktopus!

  1. Thank You Alice for organising such a great weekend, you can heave a sigh of relief now that everything went so well and it was all down to your organisation! Thank you so much and I hope to see you again before too long… perhaps if you are up this way you could pop in? Sue x

  2. You should be pleased with how it went, Alice, it was a really great weekend. Yes, lighting did become an issue, but I think a lot of the problem was tiredness too – I haven’t learnt so much in such a short time for years! By changing location, I guess you mean not in deepest, darkest Norfolk, because I thought the barns themselves were lovely and lent themselves well to the big group. I agree with you about the group – it was a nice mix and the food was lovely too. A great weekend and I definitely hope to come next time too!

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