Explore 4 Fiber Retreats

Deb in Shetland
Photo by Mary Macgregor.

In February/March and in November, I facilitate four-day fiber retreats in the San Juan Islands of Washington state. Each is a relatively small gathering for which I spend a year or two planning, and then collecting and preparing fibers. These are retreats: they are structured to include a bounty of information and fiber within a daily plan that allows everyone (including me) time to relax. We have structured time in the morning; afternoons are flexible (spin, knit, hike, nap, shop in town, get a massage), and evenings are low-key, sometimes with a program and sometimes just visiting and sharing inspiration.

Each of the retreats takes place at the fabulous Lakedale Resort in Friday Harbor, Washington, and each is catered by an outstanding island chef, using fresh, local ingredients. The format for each retreat is unique, but the atmosphere remains the same: a gathering of fiber-loving folks, excited to learn more and unwind for a week of exploration and fellowship.

Deb Robson


Covid-19 Notes

Due to my own vulnerabilities and those of some regular participants, for the time being all retreats have the following covid parameters:

  • As of Fall 2023, we are dropping the vaccination requirement, although we strongly recommend staying up-to-date with both covid and flu immunizations. Due to continued covid outbreaks—fully half of the participants at a recent gathering near us tested positive three to four days later—the masking imperative remains in place. I have done especially well with Masklab masks. They are not washable, but can be used until they show signs of wear or get wet.
  • Thus still in place: Masking when indoors with others, with a mask that covers both mouth and nose.
  • As much physical distancing as is possible; our options here are somewhat limited, but so far we’ve done really well at spacing ourselves out.

For information about costs, lodging, and all sorts of other questions, please visit our FAQ page.

What skills and tools do you need?
You need to have the very basic spinning skills. If you can spin a lumpy singles, and make a two-ply yarn that’s enough! You can find more details about skills and tools needed in the FAQs here. If you don’t know how to spin yet, and still want to come, you can always take a spinning class before the retreat, but we don’t cover learning to spin at the retreat.

Upcoming Explore 4 Fiber Retreats


2024 Autumn Retreat

Explore 4 Fall Fiber Retreat Friday Harbor, Washington

One session: November 4-7, 2024

Topic to be announced!

Want more information on what the retreats are like, where they’re located, and what the accommodations are like? Please see the Explore 4 pages.


November 4–7, 2024

Arrive the 3rd, depart the 8th.

As of 5/2024, this retreat is full. Register here to join the waitlist.


2025 Spring Four-by-Four Retreat: Four days, four compare/contrast breeds

Explore 4 Spring Fiber Retreat Friday Harbor, Washington

One session: March 17–20, 2025

This was the original Explore 4 format and is how the gathering proceeds for
most spring sessions. Over four days, we explore four breeds, selected for their
variety, history, and/or rarity, with several fleeces from each so that we can
experience both the consistency and the variety within the breed. We’ll look at
the history, fiber characteristics, and uses of each.

It often takes a year (or three) to gather enough appropriate fleeces and conduct
the necessary extensive research to feature a breed in a spring retreat. As a
result, details can change up to the last minute (I once had to change breeds
while en route to the event because the fleeces being delivered under the wire
weren’t of good enough quality—!), but feel free to get in touch to learn what’s
looking likely.

Want more information on what the retreats are like, where they’re located, and what the accommodations are like? Please see the Explore 4 pages.


March 17 – 20, 2025

Arrive the 16th, depart the 21st.

As of 5/2024, there are spaces in this session. Register here.


If you’re not sure if Explore 4 is you, or you’d just like to learn more about these events (including inspiration, history, location, and cost), look here for all the details you’ll ever need about Explore 4 or get in touch through the contact page.