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Retreat FAQ

For more detailed information about the retreat and Camp Verdugo Oaks, please download our in-depth retreat pamphlet! (PDF File, Right-click and choose “Save As”)

“It was a fabulous weekend with so much to offer to so many.” – Ercil Wroth

What’s it like? For a good idea of activities, see the photos, reviews, and blog posts from previous retreats.

Who is behind it? A home-based business that sells natural dyes, fibers and small fiber tools, owned and operated by John & Bjo Trimble, plus Trimble daughter Lora and her husband, Jason Boehm, and helpful friends, bless them!

What’s included in the Retreat fee?
Accommodations (first come, first served)
Site fee
All meals
Dye Classes
Dyes, mordants, fleece, yarn
Large supply of threads & yarns
Raw fleece to hand-process
Assorted roving
All kinds of dyes
Earth pigments
Propane for dye stoves
Use of stoves, pots and other equipment
Reference library
& much more

What are “loaner tools”? We’ll have an assortment of spinning wheels, looms, drop spindles, carding combs and other fiber tools that you can borrow during the Retreat.

Why the high fee? It isn’t bad for the huge amount of information you will take home, and our Retreat includes lodging plus all meals. Here are a few examples of other workshop and retreat prices, none of which included food or lodging.
1 day tie-dye class: $150.00 plus $10.00 materials fee
1 day color mixing class: $350.00 plus $65.00 materials fee
2 day Procion MX dye workshop: $150.00 plus $10.00 materials fee
3 day indigo workshop: $295.00 plus $30.00 materials fee
SOAR Fiber Retreat: $575.00 if you win the registration lottery!

“If I can make any improvements to make your stay a more pleasant experience let me know.” – Ranger Terry

Where is the Retreat? Camp Verdugo Oaks (CVO), in Angeles Forest in the Tehachapi Mountains, near the little town of Castaic, in Southern California.

Who is in charge? It is administered by the Verdugo Hills Boy Scout Council, with Ranger Terry Hall on site.

What is the altitude? About 2400 – 2800 feet above sea level. Not too high but above Los Angeles smog.

Is it scenic? CVO is in a well-shaded oak glen surrounded by steep, chaparral-covered hillsides with a stunning mountain vista. Bring your camera.

Is it close to an airport? Burbank International is about 40 minutes away, LAX is over an hour. Let us know if you fly in so we can make arrangements to get you to the camp.

Are there wild animals? This is a wilderness area so there are fuzzy and furry friends of the animal kingdom: field mice, raccoons, possums, squirrels, packrats, etc, plus owls, hawks and others birds. Bruce the bear was spotted but kept his distance. The most ravening creatures were Retreat participants going for fresh-baked cookies!

How big is a floored tent? It’s a 10′ x 10′ Army tent, with heavy canvas walls and wooden floor about 1 foot off the ground. It is just large enough to hold 2 cots, and space to shove your suitcase under the cots. Cozy!

Is the Handicap Bunkhouse really accessible? It’s a small easy-access room next to the handicap toilet and shower, with 2 bunk-beds and enough floor space for a couple of folding chairs or a wheelchair.

Are there outhouses? No. All the toilets on the site are flush (yay!)

How about showers? There are 3 shower houses with several hot-water showers in each.

Is CVO online? See our camp photos or to get maps to the venue: or Google Maps — For nearest town amenities, Google “Castaic”.

Where can I sleep if not at CVO? There are Castaic motels about 9 miles away.

Is there RV parking? Only for van-sized RVs. For larger RVs, there is a primitive Forestry campground a few hundred yards away from the CVO front gate.

“Whenever someone wanted to learn something, there was always a teacher there to teach it.” – Roberta Brubaker

How will classes be run? Casually. We’ll have some scheduled classes, but the informal, impromptu learning atmosphere will be carefully fostered.

Can I dye all weekend? Yes. We’ll start the dyepots on Friday morning and stop them at Sunday noon. Since dyeing involves long waits between good color, you can take other classes during the weekend.

What will I learn?
How to skirt and wash fleece
Combing and carding flax and fleece
Making sprang and naalbinding
Inkle and triangle weaving
Tablet weaving
Lucet cord-making
Viking combing
Great wheel spinning
Drop spinning
Knitting and crochet
Tie-dye and other resist dyeing
How to handle silk caps (bells)
Flax spinning
MX fiber reactive dyeing
Natural dyeing
and much more.

What else will I learn? Leatherworking, wood-turning, wire jewelry, basket-making, silk-painting, painting with dyes and earth oxides, plus much more crafts being lined up even now.

What kind of dyeing? You’ll work with natural dyes and commercial dyes to create a wonderful array of color. This year we’ll have even more dyepots going, with color stations set up.

Can I bring a special project? We will try to assist, but since the Retreat is a learning experience for all, we can’t devote too much time for each person’s personal projects. We suggest that large projects be dealt with at another time.

Can I teach? Tell us what you want to teach, and we’ll discuss it.

“I am ‘recovering’ from one of the most fantastic weekends I’ve had in a long while.” – Susan Williams

What about food? All meals and even snacks are included in the Retreat fee. You will be well-fed, guaranteed.

All beverages are supplied? The Retreat fee includes plenty of bottled water, lemonade, iced tea, but no commercial soft drinks. You may choose to bring your own soft drinks or purchase some at the Scout Trading Post.

Can I help cook? Tell us your experience in a restaurant-sized kitchen feeding 80+ people (participants and organizers).

What about food allergies? Meals are buffet-style with all ingredients listed, so those with allergies can work around any problems.

What is “The Coffee Bar of Splendoor”? Cat Ellen (Eilidh Swann) supplies free hot beverages each morning, and at other times on request: drip coffee, teas, chocolates, spiced cider, served with a variety of flavored creamers, syrups, and sugars.

Was there really brewing? Yes. Todd Etzel brought home-brewed beer and mead for tasting and worked on brewing more beer during the Retreat. He was also a wonderful water-bearer for the dye sessions!

“That weekend retreat was the most fun I’ve had in years.” – Jeanne Willits

Is this an all-female event? Males are VERY welcome! We’ll have all kinds of fiber, but there will also be leather-working, beer brewing and wood-turning. SCA types can bring armor for a good round or two – SCA rules, no live steel.

Would my family enjoy it? At our 2005 Retreat a family father hiked and biked around the area while the daughter learned crafts and mom played with fiber all weekend. Everyone is coming back this year!

How do I dress? As casually as possible. There will be lots of wonderfully messy things to do. This is not the place for high heels, jewelry or even makeup. Since the upcoming Retreat is in June, plan on a light chill in the evenings.

Do I need sunscreen in June? Yes!!! Double yes! We’ll be in higher altitude with no protection from the sun. Also bring lip balm with a high SPF, and skin moisturizer. We’ll be working with wool or in dye-water which also dries hands.

Will there be vendors? Yes. If you know of anyone with fiber or crafts-related merchandise, have them contact Bjo. Vendors are responsible for their own setup, booth, shade, credit card machines, etc.

Can I sell my stuff? You are welcome to bring one or two items (loom, spinning wheel, fabric, fleece, etc) and sell or trade it.

What should we bring? Registered participants will get a PARTICIPANTS SHOULD BRING letter. Keep in mind that Camp Verdugo Oaks is not a 4-star hotel, so everything you’ll need for the weekend must be brought in.

What about medication? Medication with your name on it may be stored in the kitchen refrigerator. We can’t supply any medication except under First Aid emergencies.

What should we not bring?

No unregistered friends or family ‘just to camp’ – they have to pay full Retreat fee.
No drop-ins ‘just to see what’s going on.’
No jewelry because it can be lost and never found.
No perfume or other scented stuff because it attracts insects that get annoyed when it turns out you aren’t a flower.
No pets of any kind; site is a wilderness area and there are wild animals nearby.
No smoking.
No hard liquor.
No firearms.

“I got everything out of the event that I wanted: Time with fiber, folks who understand and love fiber” — Debbie Coyle

Is everything volunteer? Yes. We pay teachers and helpers in vouchers for Griffin Dyeworks merchandise if they perform as promised.

Do you have a schedule yet? Setup and activities start on Friday at 8am. Saturday: Classes, demos, projects, swim. Sunday: Repeat of Saturday, cleanup site, go home, tell everyone how much fun you had!

Is it an SCA event? No, the Retreat is a privately organized event and has nothing to do with the Society for Creative Anachronism except that several of us are members. The Retreat is open to anyone interested in fiber arts.

Remember to add us to your address books! We do most of our Retreat business by email, but if we’re spam-blocked you won’t get much information. .

How can I help? Tell everyone about the Retreat. We’re not in every guild or on every fiber site, so we need your help.

“Totally enriched by the weekend!” – Erin Talevich

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