I’ve always wanted to go on a knitting retreat. Luscious setting, time with yarn, workshops, good food. But they’re (justifiably) expensive, and sometimes far away, and with money tight and a toddler at home, it’s an unrealistic dream for me for the next few years. And that’s okay.

But last weekend Greg took Owen and Cleo to Whistler with his parents, and I stayed home. In my quiet, quiet house, alone for the first time in a year and a half. So I decided to host what I like to call a poor man’s retreat – a sleepover at my house.

Now you might expect, since I’m blogging about this and all, that I’ll tell you about the cute cupcakes I made with icing shaped like yarn, and the napkins I folded to look like crochet hooks, and the bunting I sewed to hang from the chairs set around the table I’d stocked with delectable confections of every sort.


Alas, no. I don’t live one of those beautiful blog lives. Although I did bake muffins, I baked them from a mix. And though I didn’t decorate, I did clean the toilets and put clean sheets on the beds.

The whole point was to spend time with crafty friends and to relax.

Friends with yarn

By 5PM on Saturday, the six of us were gathered in my living room, knitting and crocheting. We ate chips from a bowl and dropped muffin crumbs on the rug. We looked up celebrity photos on an iPad, laughed with abandon, and talked yarn and projects. Ravelry was consulted more than once. We drank a bottle of elderflower water, most of a bottle of wine and half a beer. We feasted on sushi from the restaurant a couple blocks away, and then on cupcakes and ice cream.

By midnight, two women had gone home and four of us prepared to go to sleep. Two shared the bed in the guest room and two of us shared my bed. We left the dishes dirty.

As we left it

By 9:30 Sunday morning the four of us were again in the living room with needles and hook in hand. At 10 one of the women who’d gone home to sleep the night before returned for brunch. I made banana chocolate chip pancakes and Emily made scrambled eggs. Marianela had brought fruit and Alexa took out the ice cream. It was, again, a feast.

Brunch feast

By 1PM my house was empty. And it was surprisingly clean, for these women are amazing. And I had no decorations to take down. No leftovers to wish I didn’t have to eat.

I took a long shower, stripped the bed in the guest room, and spent the rest of the day crocheting, knitting and sewing.

I felt so relaxed. I’d knitted several inches on my Rae scarf and several inches on my Land & Sea blanket. But mostly, I’d spent comfortable time with crafty friends without a care in the world beyond what to eat next and whether I was on an increase row. No expensive trip or intense preparations required.

Here’s how you, too, can throw a poor-man’s knitting and crochet retreat:


  1. Choose a night.
  2. Invite people. Perhaps point out that a sleepover at your house is free. Let people know how many beds and sofas you can offer for sleeping, and how much floorspace you have. Let attendees know if they need to bring sleeping bags, pillows, towels, etc. Decide amongst yourselves whether to approach food potluck-style, cook-together-style, or by ordering in.
  3. Make sure your house is in a state you’re comfortable with. Nobody cares if it’s immaculate. Nobody needs you to decorate. Just have enough clean dishes and glasses and toilet paper.
  4. Enjoy.