This past weekend I attended another yarn event – the Zombie Knitpocalypse (ZK). It was different than the other events that I have attended.
In the past, I’ve attended some Stitches events – Stitches South (which was discontinued) and Stitches Midwest. I attended all the Vogue Knitting Live (VKL) events in 2018 – New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Minneapolis – and the 2019 New York VKL.
At these larger events, the focus was on the classes and the marketplace. Although a marketplace ticket is relatively inexpensive, the classes cost between $85 and $90 or more. VKL offers package deals with some savings, but the cost of attending is still high. At Stitches and VKL, a variety of classes are offered each day. The marketplace is also open throughout the event.
ZK, on the other hand, is a knitting retreat, and focuses more on actual knitting. There are classes and there is a marketplace, but the majority of time is spent knitting with others.
What is Zombie Knitpocalypse?
Let me back up – the Stockinette Zombies* is a knitting video podcast that was started in 2011 by Megan (justrunknit on Ravelry) and Amy (jknitma). They talk about their families and activities, but mostly they talk about knitting. I stumbled upon the videocast about a year ago, but didn’t watch very much of it at the time. In November, I was inspired, though, when I met both women at VKL Minneapolis.
I had invited myself into their knitting circle in the lobby of the hotel. As we knitted and talked they told me about their podcast. Although I hadn’t watched enough to make the connection when I first met them, when they mentioned it, the light bulb went on. They proceeded to tell me about the knitting retreat that they hold each June in Rochester, Minnesota.
The Zombie Knitpocalypse was sold out for 2019, but they encouraged me to join the waiting list if I was interested. I signed up right away. On June 6, less than two weeks before the start of the event, I received an email saying my name had come off the wait list. I couldn’t believe it! It turns out, I was the last person to come off the wait list for this year.
The cost of the event for 2019 was $130. The fee included classes, entrance to the marketplace, a goody bag, and other activities.
Signups for classes began on June 7 at 9 am. Each participant is allowed to sign up for two classes at this time on a first-come, first-served basis. A week later, classes are opened up and participants may claim any unfilled seats. Classes were held on Thursday and Friday, and were included in the cost of the event. I took classes on socks, mosaic knitting, color work, and the Latvian braid.
In comments on ZK’s chatter thread on Ravelry, past participants mentioned that they didn’t plan to take many classes because they didn’t want to be too busy. I like classes, but after taking several this year, I might opt to take fewer the next time I attend. The classes were all great, but I also loved chatting, relaxing, and knitting.
The market was held on Saturday. It was open for participants from 10 am to 12 pm and open to the anyone from 1-3 pm. It was not a large market, but there was plenty of wonderful yarn to choose from.
Many of the dyers were smaller indie dyers. I like supporting these dyers in order to help their businesses grow. Some of my favorites were Lavender Lune, 716 Knit, and Dyed in the Wool Yarn Company. Middle-sized companies from the Midwest that were vending included Leading Men Fiber Arts, Three Irish Girls, and Sun Valley Fibers.
There were fun activities scheduled throughout the weekend. I arrived on Wednesday afternoon, checked into the hotel, and then went to register. I received my name tag and a bag full of goodies. The goody bag included a dated ceramic ZK mug, a trio of 50-gram skeins of yarn from Suburban Stitcher, a fix-a-stitch tool, and samples and coupons from other vendors.
On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening, there was a time set aside for treats – a different selection each night. One of the treats that has become a tradition is make-your-own ‘smores. There were little burners on each table to roast the marshmallows and plenty of other ingredients for graham cracker toppings.
There were lots of swaps – skeins of yarn, mini skeins, stitch markers, coffee, and beer. There was a bag swap and a vessel swap where knitters who wanted to participate would bring a project bag or mug and fill it with items totaling to between $20 and $25. Items were chosen in grab-bag style, where the recipient could not see what they were getting.
On Friday evening, speaker Cecilia Nelson-Hurt challenged us to be more inclusive as a community, welcoming all knitters regardless of color, sexual orientation, religion, or other traits. She was inspiring.
The opening and closing ceremonies included prize drawings. So many items were donated for prizes that everyone in attendance won something. Other optional events included a 5k run/walk, a canvas and chardonnay painting class, a designer showcase, and a pajama party.
The best part of the event was the opportunity to meet new friends. There was a thread on Ravelry for people looking for roommates for the event. I responded and was placed in a room with two other women. A companion room across the hall housed four women. I instantly had six new friends. Most of the women had attended before, but I wasn’t the only newbie. It was nice to have experienced ZKers there to answer my questions.
My new friends introduced me to more friends. The first night, I went to dinner with a group of 12 women (including myself). There are several nice restaurants in downtown Rochester within walking distance of the hotel that held the event. With all my new friends, I never had to dine alone.
Many of the women I met are indie dyers or pattern designers. I’ve recently started dyeing and designing, so I returned home truly inspired.
I had a great time going to classes, knitting, making new friends, knitting, eating out, and knitting this weekend. I can’t wait to go again. If you are interested, signups for next year start in September.
Have you been to a knitting retreat? Which one? I’m looking for another one to try. Leave your comments below.
*I asked Megan how they came up with the name for their podcast. Her explanation was that often when knitting plain stockinette stitch for an extended period of time, the knitter almost turns into a zombie (one acting in a state of mental exhaustion or one who responds mechanically). Megan also said that since the podcast started in October, thoughts of Halloween may have influenced their title choice.