A Crafty Retreat in the Woods

comments (4) January 15th, 2009     

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kaytet kayte terry, contributor
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Meredith worked on this beautiful knit dress all weekend.
Karis goal was to finish a bunch of different projects.
In the summer, we tend to leave the house a little bit more!
Meredith worked on this beautiful knit dress all weekend.

Meredith worked on this beautiful knit dress all weekend.

Photo: Kayte Terry

A couple times a year, a few of my favorite crafty ladies and I get out of the city for a long weekend of crafting, cooking, bad-movie watching, and all-night gab-fests in the Catskill Mountains. It is a perfect few days of relaxation, with no obligations to do work, leave the house, or even to get out of our pajamas!

It all started with weekly craft nights. On Wednesdays, a small group of us often gather over a bottle of wine, some snacks, and a portable craft project. As fun as craft nights are, they often leave us wanting more. A few hours with good friends on a work night is barely enough to skim the surface! Just when we start really relaxing, we realize that it is time to go home. So we started dreaming about a craft retreat.

One friend offered up a family cabin in the Catskills. It was perfect: We could have the place for free. All we had to do was get some food and head on up to the woods!

Over the years, we have really perfected our retreat process. Our first trip up had far too many people, and meal planning (not to mention sleeping arrangements!) got overwhelming. Now we stick to six to eight people. Also, we divvy up meal planning: If people really like to cook, like I do, they can be in charge of a meal or two. People who don't cook are responsible for cleanup. We loosely plan out our dinners before we get to the cabin and do a giant shopping trip on our way up. Simple filling meals like lasagna and meatballs, burritos, and root vegetable au gratin are inexpensive crowd pleasers.

Everything is decided based on the feminist consensus model: When the weather report threatened a giant oncoming snowstorm, we all sat around the table and talked out whether we would stay or leave early. We decided to stay. The drive home through the mountains on Sunday was treacherous, but everyone was happy to have the extra day in the cabin.

As for splitting up the costs, we are lucky to have two very smart engineers among us who add up the bill and figure out who owes what. This is what we do: We add up all the expenses (food, gas, alcohol) and figure out the cost per day. Then we divide that by the number of people who were there each day. For instance, this past weekend, I was there for three days and another lady was only there for two. She would obviously have to pay less than I would. It is a very fair system and has never failed us. Also, the costs add up to one of the cheapest vacations I have ever taken!

And the crafting? People can bring whatever they want to work on. Some people bring a bunch of projects that they just need to finish. I like to bring really tedious (some say meditative) projects that wouldn't be fun anywhere but in a cabin in the woods. I love crafting with other people because you get feedback, tips, and new ideas.

On Sunday afternoon, we clean the house, have a leisurely breakfast, and divide up the leftover food to take back home. It is always a little sad to go, but we leave knowing that in a few more months we will be back there again having the time of our lives!

Have you ever taken a crafty retreat? Tell me about it!


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Comments (4)

Cissy44 writes: What great fun. Some years back I went on a yearly girls trip with friends from NKY. I sure do miss those trips. But new crafty friends and I are looking to doing a retreat to a family members piece of land in the woods - in NKY - can't wait. I hope its the first of many. It is definitely nice to have my babies grown with babies of their own and time for me to escape with crafters like me. Have fun making memories in times to come girls.
Posted: 10:20 pm on March 8th
Carriecan writes: This sounds divine. But as we all help each other out with watching our kids...hmmm, leave them all with the dads for the weekend? Thanks for such an awesome idea.
Posted: 3:01 pm on January 17th
Fiberfads writes: That sounds marvelous. I do have crafty friends but we all have large families...so maybe in about 10 years or so...a girl can dream!

Adele from Fiberfads!
Posted: 7:36 pm on January 15th
Jen_W writes: What a dream! I need to set up a similar retreat. Every time I go away for a girls' weekend, I'm the only chick knitting. A lot of my friends are not crafty in that way.
Posted: 2:23 pm on January 15th
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