COVID has changed our lives, no doubt about it. It has made many things more difficult. But it has also made a few things more doable. It has created opportunities for crafters to come together, virtually… An example of this is knitting retreats. Usually these are done in-person but a few offered virtual retreats in 2020 and 2021 and one was Hill Country Weavers, a yarn store in Austin, Texas.
I was able to attend some classes because this retreat was virtual and it was a lot of fun.
Virtual vs. In-Person
I have always wanted to go to a knitting retreat. But me, like many others, are often dissuaded by the price of these retreats. They are usually for 2-3 days and cost well over $1500 for a shared room. A lot of people cannot afford this. COVID forced some retreats to go virtual and I’m so glad it did!
I’ve always wanted to attend a retreat from Hill Country Weavers (HCW). A retreat that would have usually cost $1500 cost about $350 if you took full advantage of the classes and swag box. I decided to splurge on the retreat box and split it with my mom, a new crocheter.
There are definite disadvantages to virtual events. You don’t get the camaraderie that you get in person. You’re not likely to make friends. But HCW had happy hours, opening receptions, keynote speakers, and vendor talks….plenty of opportunities to get the full “retreat” experience, even if it lacked social time with knitters.
Since I’ve never taken classes at a retreat before, I cannot compare them to virtual retreat classes. But I can say that the virtual classes from HCW were amazing. I took classes from Dawn Barker of Chasing Rabbits Fiber and Aroha Knits – and I learned a lot. Sure, I didn’t meet these makers and designers in person but I’m an introvert and I’m fine with that.
I got what I paid for: I learned a lot.
I really miss shopping for yarn in person. So my complaint against the marketplace has nothing to do with this retreat. HCW offered lovely one-of-a-kind colorways from some of my favorite independent dyers: Chasing Rabbits, Suburban Stitcher, Spincycle, La Bien Aimee… But I would have loved to have shopped for yarn in person.
You can’t beat the price of a virtual retreat. You don’t have to travel or pay for a hotel; you are only paying for the classes and marketplace.
But I miss travel and would give anything to attend one of these in person. Still, I’m so glad I took these classes and participated in the retreat. It was a good way to see if I would enjoy an in-person retreat.
Hopefully, in-person retreats return soon. But I honestly hope that every retreat will offer a virtual component, as it benefits everyone.