SOAR: A place to learn, make friends….and shop!

A magical event happens in our Interweave family each fall–somewhere in a beautiful setting, rooms begin to fill with puffs of alpaca, wool, and silk; spinning wheels sprout as though from nowhere, and everywhere, everywhere, you hear the click of knitting needles and the joyful voices of knitters showing off lace shawls, incredible socks, fabulous sweaters. The experts come to share their craft (Nancy Bush, Abby Franquemont, Maggie Casey, Judith MacKenzie McCuin, to name just a few); the beginners come to learn and play and make new friends.

This magical event is called the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat, or SOAR for short. This year, SOAR runs Sunday to Sunday, October 5 through Oct 12, in the gorgeous Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. There are workshops–just as one example: Nancy Bush, author of Knitted Lace of Estonia, teaches you all you need to know to make an Estonian lace shawl, and if you want to make one from handspun, Judith MacKenzie McCuin, author of the upcoming book The Intentional Spinner, is there to show you how. You can also take an amazing workshop in color from Vivian Hoxbro–her class includes knitting your own color wheel! Plus, there are retreats and meals and late nights spent sitting with other knitters and spinners…

Perhaps you can hear a tinge of lust in my voice. Yes, definitely a tinge…I'd love to be there, surrounded by people like Vivian Hoxbro and Deb Menz, learning things I can only now dream about from the people who know the subjects best.

However, as you read this, SOAR 2008 is already about halfway over. So why on earth would I torture you with visions of this fabulous event if you can't attend?

Well, you CAN still attend this year's SOAR event! If you happen to be the area, even though the workshops and classes are full, there's still the SOAR Market, people. There's booths, and vendors, and fibers, and yarns, and tools, and SHOPPING to be had there. (Suddenly, there's this run on Google, with thousands of knitters trying to figure out just how far away Pennsylvania and the Pocono Manor is. Why not? Who wouldn't want to attend a fun fiber market?)

The SOAR Market, located in the Terrace Ballroom at The Inn at Pocono Manor, is open to the public as follows:

Thursday, Oct. 9: 10 AM to 4 PM
Friday, Oct 10: 4 PM to 6 PM, 7 PM to 9 PM
Saturday, Oct 11: 10 AM to 5 PM

Also, in the Stone Lobby, open the same hours as the Market, will be:

  • A trunk show from The Center of Traditional Textiles in Cuzco, Peru.
  • Demonstrations on spinning alpaca fiber from the Suri Network.
  • A wonderful gallery of work by SOAR participants.

And as if that were not enough….there will be book signings by some of the hottest authors around on Friday evening:

And of course, if you cannot attend even the Market this time…there's always next year: SOAR 2009.

You can purchase any of the above books from our Interweave online store–but try your local yarn shop first.


Sandi Wiseheart is the editor of Knitting Daily.

What's on Sandi's needles? Hm. I have run into an interesting adjustment issue in the Camisa…I am puzzling it out and will report shortly. Meanwhile, there's a quick hat for Nicholas and a pair of socks for myself that I am trying to get done before the first dip below freezing happens here!

Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


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14 thoughts on “SOAR: A place to learn, make friends….and shop!

  1. I would love to attend SOAR someday, but would not go this year because of the venue. I attended a conference at the Inn at Pocono Manor this summer, and I found the venue to be overpriced and substandard. If Pocono Manor were local to me, I’d certainly drop by to enjoy the event, but I wouldn’t stay at the Inn at Pocono Manor again. Our hotel room was cramped, the service was slow and incomplete, and the food was truly mediocre (and seriously overpriced for what it was. I hope that the organizers of SOAR find a more appealing venue for future years, because I’ll be there!

  2. WHAT IN THE WORLD is that GORGEOUS item in the first photo????? It’s lovely. Is it a scarf? a shawl? wrap? Is it just a sample of special fiber??? Do tell. I’m drooling over those colors and the gosser and texture of the knitted item.

  3. I love to knit. I don’t knit complicated items. I have fibromyalgia and sometimes the pain is too much. I enjoy receiving the articles and patterns from Interweave knits. It encourages me to make new knitted items. Thanks

  4. Well, I would love to go to SOAR, but it keeps being held at the ends of the country. Last year, it was on the west coast I think, next year it is in Oregon, and this year it is on the east coast.
    I think a venue somewhere near the middle would draw very well and give some of us who can not come to the east or west coasts a chance to go. It is sad that next year’s will be just as far away from Texas as this year’s conference.

  5. Well, lovely that it will be in Oregon, where I live, but having checked the room rates… well, you have just got to be kidding! I hope you will arrange group rates that approach the remotely affordable.

  6. Sandi here! I did a little digging, and that lovely item in the first photo is a garter-stitch scarf knitted out of handspun yarns created by Sarah Anderson, one of the SOAR mentors. She uses a “wrap-and-roll” spinning technique featured in the Spring 2008 Spin-Off. So the knitting is simple, but the yarns are what make it special!

  7. Like TrishS, I would love to know where I can find a pattern for that gorgeous scarf shown in the first photo of this page. The colors and textures are lovely, and I’d really like to knit one!

  8. SOAR sounds wonderful, but it is quite insensitive that it would be held over Yom Kippur (October 8 at sundown until October 9 at sundown). This is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

  9. I would love to attend the SOAR meeting- maybe next year. BUT, the scarf in the first photo…to die for! I’d make it in a NY minute if it came in a kit! Can Sarah Anderson be reached by email or a website? Does she sell her yarns? We need a newsletter about these spinner/knitters sometime soon KD! Or how about WE try and duplicate it together on KD? Sounds like a hit to me-anyone else interested? Thanks for a great webgroup!

  10. Hello there,

    My name is Bonnie Rose and I took that picture of Sarah Anderson’s Wrap & Roll yarn in the simple scarf on the SOAR page and also found here at the top of this KD page (the blue, airy scarf pictured with a hydrangea from my garden & a small green teapot). I can tell you EXACTLY what you need to know about this item.

    The yarn, the slubby looking blue yarn in the scarf is an example of Sarah’s Wrap & Roll spinning technique (Spin Off Spring issue 2008) that she is teaching as I write this… at SOAR. This yarn is pictured (by staff photograpers) beautifully on the cover of that same issue. The other, finer yarn is a fine mohair.

    The Wrap & Roll technique to make the thick & thin yarn, the pattern to make the scarf, materials, etc …everything you need to know is found starting on page 70 of the spring issue of Spin Off 2008. It works up very fast and is a real eyecatcher. I’ve made three or four of these lacy scarves/stoles myself!

  11. Unfortunately I don’t spin but would love to purchase the yarn used in Sarah Anderson’s scarf at the top of the page. Is that possible?

    A scarf pattern very similar to this can be found at, it is called loopy & luscious.