Treats and Retreats

I took my first road trip to California a week ago. Okay, I live in Las Vegas, so it’s not much of a road trip, but it was the longest time I’d spent in a consistently moving vehicle since the day I picked up my life to move to Sin City. In comparison, 5 hours isn’t terribly long to spend in a vehicle, not compared to the two 13 hour days I spent driving across the country, but when you’re as tense as I am, five hours is enough to physical drain you for the following 24 hours.
I left early morning on a Friday, just as the sun was coming up, not wanting to miss any minute of my weekend ahead. The dogs were comfortably snuggled up with the family who graciously agreed to watch them for a few days, and my audiobooks were downloaded to my phone. I did all the trivial road trip stuff; got gas, stocked up on snacks and coffee, and wore the most comfortable clothes I could while still being fit for public consumption, and then I jumped on the 15 South headed toward the Nevada-California border.
Camarillo, California is probably one of the most beautiful parts of the West Coast, even when its surrounded by a damp marine layer rolling in off the ocean just over the mountains. The exit I needed was right off the 101, and the only destination from that turn was a small senior community nestled up in the comfort of the mountains. I’d never been there before, but the GPS knew where to take me, and I pulled into the carport of 903.
I was fashionably late to the party. The ladies of the OC Fiberistas were chatting away excitedly about their newest cast ons, recent finished objects, and upcoming pattern releases they couldn’t wait to try. Food was being sensibly shoved into mouths, laughter was echoing off the cliff face, and a slight breeze allowed the various knit and crochet wear to keep everyone comfortable. These were my people.
I met Amy first. She owned the home the group was assembling in. She also ran her Chiaogoo business from the backroom. Maybe you’ve heard of it: Mimi’s Needle Basket. I learned she was a left-handed crocheter, and one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, plus a darn good cook to boot.. Other introductions quickly followed. There was Jen, Betsy, Carmen, Debbie, Arianne, and some faces I recognized from other events, Emily and Julie (the twins), Estelle, Kayla, and Suzanne Neilsen. (If you don’t know her patterns, you should!)
Soon my friend—and person who invited me—arrived with another familiar face. Izzy had ridden with April, who owns Skeino with her husband. I gave Izzy a big hug. He’s my rock in this crazy fiber world. He knows everyone and anyone who’s someone in the community, and he’s gotten me a lot of really cool gigs. There was some fun and borderline inappropriate banter between us before we finally all settled in to kick off the OC Fiberistas 2019 Camarillo Retreat!
The drive to the hotel was calm and enjoyable. Since enough of us had driven instead of taking the train or bus, no one had to Uber the short distance across town. Being invited on the retreat was an honor, but getting to assist in making sure everyone got there safely and helping them save money was truly wonderful.
The Bella Capri Inn is a quaint, homey hotel located right on the corner of a little shopping district. The only parking was directly in the center courtyard. From the outside I couldn’t tell it was a hotel. It looked more like an upscale shopping center than a temporary residence. Even the little café on the street looked like its own entity. Everything was painted a sandy tan color, like a lot of the stucco you see in Las Vegas and other warmer climates, or the whole of Florida.
My friend Rafa and I shared a room on the bottom floor. I was a little concerned with the door, as even when it was closed, there was a clear inch of visibility out into the courtyard, and when relying on the door latch alone, the whole door shifted back and forth enough to make me worry that it wouldn’t take much to shove it in if one used enough force. I made sure to use the additional bolt lock and chain when we were in for the night, not that I didn’t feel safe, but extra security is never a bad thing, especially considering we were pretty sure there was a safe house located just behind the hotel, and the residents would walk from the house to the street directly through the hotel’s courtyard.
Everything you expect from a mid-tier hotel was there. Double beds made to perfection, slightly worn furniture, less space than you probably have in your own bedroom, a bathroom that had been cleaned, but could use some tile replacement and maybe some extra bleach, the typical amenities, and of course the Gideon bible in the nightstand drawer. Even though it was 65 degrees, I cranked the AC. I run hot, and to be comfortable, I need cold moving air. I’d rather throw on a hoodie or jacket and socks than have to feel like peeling off clothing.
The first night was simple. We got goodie bags filled with the wares of so many talented makers, we scarfed down a sizeable dinner at the local burger joint, and we crafted our hearts away until late into the night. I think most people crashed around midnight, though Rafa and I hit the sack earlier than that. It had been a long day.
Day 2 was packed! We had an early breakfast at 7 AM, and immediately started classes at 9. My first class was the basket making class. Ariane designed a simple crochet basket that incorporated a rope. It took a little bit to get started, but we were soon off to the races and before long, half the thing was done! Ariane is an incredible designer, but my favorite thing about her class was the stress on stretching. She made us get up and move a couple times to keep us loose and relaxed, which my hands definitely appreciated.
Class 2 was a cast-on class. Suzanne taught us all about the tubular cast on that doesn’t use a provisional cast on. It was such a fun technique to learn, and I’ll be adding it to almost every hat I make from now on. The samples the class made were giving to Suzanne who sewed them together to make a cup cozy for one of the other teachers.
Lunch was on our own. Izzy, Rafa, and I went to a cute little café down the street. I don’t remember anything about it except that their potato salad was one of the best I’d ever had. After we ate we meandered through the consignment and thrift shops down the street. Nothing really caught our eye as the shops either catered to the feminine customer, or the shop was nothing more than a glorified junk heap. We did find a cute music shop, but quickly realized you didn’t buy anything from the shop. All of their sheet music was for rent, like a library but for instrumental music. Quite an odd setup, but I guess it could turn an interesting profit.
Classes 3 and 4 commenced at 2. My first class was meditation. I learned a lot about colors, what they mean, and how they can influence our day to day life. We colored mandalas and thought about how we could incorporate the colors into our lives, and how we could meditate on the things we either didn’t understand, or the things we needed in our lives. Blue and Orange were the two colors I felt most strongly. Blue represents emotional healing, and orange represents creativity.
The last class was embroidery. We made buttons that we embroidered a yarn ball and knitting needles onto. I’ve since lost the button, but I do have the supplies to be able to create a second one. I hope to do that soon.
Saturday ended with dinner, more knitting, long talks, and raffle prizes. I came home with 10 skeins of yarn, awesome patterns, and new friends I’ll never forget. We packed up and left Sunday morning, me with another long drive back to Las Vegas, and most everyone else on the train. It hurt to say goodbye again.
The world is such a funny place. You never truly know where you’re going to be, who you’re going to run into, and who you’re going to say goodbye to for the last time. I think about these things often, and I try to let it shape my interactions with people. I know one day everyone I know and love will be gone, but they are here today and that makes me happy. I have a lot of emotional healing to do from the things that have happened in my life, but its friends like the ones I made at the retreat who remind me that life is always worth living, yarn is always worth knitting, and people are always worth loving.