Sunday, March 11, 2012

Great Balls of Yarn #1

It seemed like a great idea.  DH was longing to cruise; I was less enthusiastic.  He suggested I search out a knitting cruise.  I googled and stumbled upon Great Balls of Yarn, a week long cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale on the Westerdam.  We like Holland America Lines, in fact, sailed on the Westerdam once before.  The featured instructor was Barry Klein.  I wasn't familiar with him but what could go wrong?  It was knitting.  We booked.

I mentioned the cruise at my Monday night knitting group.  A friend looked dubious.  She mentioned that Barry Klein was associated with Trendsetter Yarns and specialized in novelty yarns.  This caused me some concern but I thought being with a bunch of knitters sailing the Caribbean can't go wrong.

On January 13 the Costa Concordia tragedy hit the news.  A large cruise ship hit a reef off the coast of Italy.  The evacuation of the ship was poorly handled.  Many people were injured and around 30 were dead or missing.  There were numerous photos of the ship lying in its side in shallow water.  At first I wondered if we should cancel our trip.  DH convinced me that cruise ships are statistically much safer than automobiles and I travel in one of those just about every day. So, we went ahead as planned.

Shortly before the cruise was scheduled to begin I received an email from the cruise organizers detailing the schedule.  We were to have classes on the three sea days.  In addition, there would be two cocktail parties.  DH and I were assigned to a dinner table for eight members of the knitting group.  It sounded like great fun.  There was a note from Barry as well stating we should just bring our needles; he would bring the yarn.  Naively I thought, how nice, he's bringing yarn samples for us to play with.

2012 is my year of the yarn diet.  A casual inventory of my stash revealed that I have over$1,000 of yarn waiting to be used.  I have lots of plans for projects and plenty of stock on hand to complete them.  Therefore, I pledged to myself that I would "knit from stash." I brought four projects with me on the ship.  Three of them are works in progress: a rambling rows child's jacket i'm making for Linny, my Catkin shawl still in the very beginning stages, Pastafarian, aka Sandrilene, a sweater for me, and enough yarn to start and finish another child size sweater, this one for Orion.

The first full day of cruising was scheduled for Half Moon Cay, HAL's private island.  DH and I have been there more than once.  It's lovely if you are a beach person.  I'm not.  I planned to have a peaceful day on the ship while everyone else went ashore for the sun and sand.  As I took my early morning walk around the promenade deck I noticed it was extremely windy.  As we arrived at Half Moon Cay the captain announced that the wind was so strong it would not be safe to use the tenders.  We would be skipping our stop there.

Soon I received a phone call and an invitation to a special bonus knitting session scheduled for later in the day.  After lunch I headed to the meeting room.  We were introduced to Barry who had displayed many samples around the room.  Most of them were made with novelty yarns.  They were beautifully made, but for the most part, not garments I would wear.  Barry showed us a lovely vest made in a complex miter pattern using many different yarns.  It looked like something I would enjoy making and wearing.  Great Balls of Yarn had set up a market in the back of the room where many unusual and attractive yarns were on display.  There were also pre made kits for the vest project.  I handled one that was a mix of blue yarns and one that was pink.  Both were lovely.  I decided on the blue one and went to pay for it.  At that moment the class convened and I was encouraged to complete the sale during the first break.  As Barry explained the construction I realized it was the same technique I had learned from Barbara Kerr at Stitches East in Hartford.  I really wanted to make this vest.  I turned to the woman on my left and noticed her sales slip resting on top of her kit.  The total was $239.00.  It took my breath away.  There is no way that I would invest that much money in a project even if I weren't on a yarn diet.  When the break came, I put the kit back in the market.

Barry took some time to describe the other projects he planned for the cruise.  One was a scarf, attractive in its way, but not something I would wear.  The other was a handbag done with fabric and Tunisian crochet.  This one involved buying fabric, yarn and the special, handmade crochet hook.  I don't think so. After some additional discussion, we played a really fun game called R L C that involves dice and passing dollar bills (or chips) back and forth among the players.  I won!

Our dinner companions are delightful, two couples from Toms River. I prefer assigned seating when we cruise and really look forward to catching up with our dinner companions each evening.

Tuesday morning we had our first regularly scheduled class.  It became apparent the day would be devoted to making the vest.  Most, but not all, of the participants had purchased the kit.  Those of us who did not were given printed instructions for the basic miter design.  If I had been aware this was the plan, I would have brought a selection from stash since doing the design requires mixing up lots of yarn in small amounts.  Since Barry said he was bringing the yarn, I didn't do so.  I worked on the miter pattern using yarn from the rambling rows jacket.  It's an interesting construction involving not just mitered squares but part squares that link together in intriguing ways. Here's what I have so far. 

Can't seem to upload photo from iPad. Will do so when I can use laptop.

The pattern calls for about ten different yarns with different textures and colors.  I only had three with me.  Unfortunately both the basic miter instructions and the vest pattern itself are riddled with errors.  Once I ran out of appropriate yarn (about the same time I became annoyed at the inaccurate stitch counts in the pattern) I resumed working on the Rambling Rows jacket.  It's really coming along.

So, I'm feeling a bit misled, chagrined that I did not investigate the details thoroughly and at the same time, enjoying the companionship of the other women.  As I said in my intro, it's a knitting cruise.  It has to be fun and so far it is.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad you're having a good time despite after the shock of seeing the price of that kit. My jaw almost fell out of my mouth! Just being on the cruise would be enough for me to keep happy. I love meeting new people, too, and love to hear about their backgrounds. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.