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:

  • All participants, facilitators, and lodging and catering staff, must be fully vaccinated and boosted. If you are not fully vaccinated, please wait for a future, safer-for-all time to register for a retreat.
  • 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.

Note: I know some people cannot be vaccinated and/or have conditions that mean vaccination does not evoke a strong protective response. I look forward to a time when enough of us have been vaccinated that more moderate practices, like simply masking and physical distancing as needed, will be adequate to bring us all back together freely.


Are you ready to explore more?

Each of the retreats I facilitate takes on a different theme.

As always, if you can independently (1) spin a singles yarn that holds together (lumpy is okay!) and (2) make a two-ply you have the necessary skills for my retreats or workshops. Some participants are newbies and some have been spinning proficiently for decades. We can all learn something by encountering new fibers in new ways.

For registration information, see “What next?” We do keep waiting lists as needed.

As usual for Explore 4, we meet at Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes (with special off-season rates), have a balanced schedule of structured, informative and flexible, restorative time, and enjoy a visit from Island Fibers one afternoon (with freshly shorn fleeces from the region’s sheep, hand-dyed yarns, great buttons, and more).

Friends or partners are welcome to come explore the island while you’re enjoying the retreat, and may join us for meals as long as we get them in the count two weeks ahead of the gathering.

Complete counts for the optional (but exquisite and very convenient) lunch/dinner catering need to be submitted by two weeks before each retreat; gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan options are readily available. Catering is provided by the San Juan Island Inn Collection, which operates the Coho Restaurant among other excellent island resources, and features fresh, seasonal meals. If you do not participate in the meal plan, Lakedale is about four miles from the town of Friday Harbor.

Costs: $600 for retreat fee and materials; meals—breakfast is included with Lakedale lodging, lunch and dinner for all four days $240 (subject to slight increase in 2023) plus optional tip on the final day (accompanying friends or family can choose lunch-only or dinner-only); lodging costs vary depending on chosen accommodations (Lodge is least expensive; sharing cabins works well to economize if you come with a group; dogs can be with you in cabins but not in the Lodge). For information on getting to and from the retreat and other details, see the boldface link below that leads to a series of pages of additional details.

Fall 2022 – November 7–10

Explore 4 Fiber Retreat – “Wild Card” Retreat: Crossbreds

Arrive November 6, depart November 11.

In 2017, I facilitated a retreat on crossbred wools. Some folks who were there asked that we revisit the topic, so we will, although from a different perspective. We’ll look at a routine starting point for a new breed (longwool x finewool), combinations with the same ram breed and different ewe breeds, combinations with different ram breeds and the same ewe breed, and a crossing that is commonly used in Shetland. As of October 17, 2022, there is one space remaining in this retreat, and a Lodge room open at Lakedale. Call Lakedale directly to book the room.

Click here to register for Explore 4 Fall 2022.

Spring 2023 – March 20–23

Explore 4 Fiber Retreat – Four-by four

Over four days, we’ll explore four breeds, with several fleeces from each to experience both consistency and variety within the breed. This is the classic Explore 4 format. We’ll look at the history, fiber characteristics, and uses of each breed. Specific breeds can change up to the last minute depending on supply constraints, but feel free to get in touch to learn what’s looking likely. Plan to arrive March 19 and depart March 24.

Fall 2023 – November 6–9

Explore 4 Fiber Retreat – Special topic to be determined

Plan to arrive November 5 and depart November 10.


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), click here for all the details you’ll ever need about Explore 4 or get in touch through the contact page.

Before you go…

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