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:

  • 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.

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

Upcoming Explore 4 Fiber Retreats

2023 Autumn Special Topic Retreat: Shetland Wools

Explore 4 Fall Fiber Retreat Friday Harbor, Washington

Session 1: November 6–9, 2023
Session 2: November 13–16, 2023
Please note: The two sessions will cover the same material.

Shetland sheep provide a wide variety of wool types. It’s said that for any fiber
project, there’s a suitable Shetland fleece, and vice versa.

In 2018, the Autumn Explore 4 featured Shetlands: they’re back in 2023 by
popular demand, although because the available fleeces differ this time, so will
the approach. We’ll begin with a foundation in the sheep of the Shetland Islands
but will spend most of our time exploring the diverse fleece types available in
North America.

We’ll look at Shetland sheep from a lot of different angles while spinning at least
a dozen varied samples.

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.

Session 1: November 6–9, 2023

Arrive the 5th, depart the 10th.

This session is waiting-list only. Join the waiting list.

Session 2: November 13–16, 2023

Arrive the 12th, depart the 17th.

As of 9/2023, there are spaces in this session. Register here.

2024 Spring Four-by-Four Retreat: Four days, four compare/contrast breeds

Explore 4 Spring Fiber Retreat Friday Harbor, Washington

One session: March 18–21, 2024

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. As of June 2023, two of the possible (but not guaranteed)
candidates for Spring 2024 are Border Leicester and North Country Cheviot.

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 18 – 21, 2024

Arrive the 17th, depart the 22nd.

As of 6/2023, 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.