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Cruise Control

A good cruise ship has much to offer ... ours had nonstop entertainment options, karaoke nights, gourmet meals (and a buffet open 7:00am to 1:00am), spa, fitness centre, pools, hot tubs, move nights, lectures, shopping, trivia contests, yoga sessions, hot glass bowing, bars, gelato emporia, games room, library, casino, and of course that calming view of the ocean gliding by.

I mostly stayed in my room and knit.

We're there to relax and enjoy ourselves, after all, and if I'm more happy and relaxed quietly knitting (or crocheting) in my cabin, then why not? So aside from emerging for meals and shore excursions, I made an awful lot of progress last week!

Normally one of these hexagons for my Persian Dreams blanket takes over a month (I try to do one round a day, just to keep my hand in, but some days I'm busy or simply more excited about a different project), but for this one I cast on my first day on the ship, and finished it three days after disembarking.

It's on waste yarn (I'm using linen, Mr. Fancypants that I am), and eventually I'll block it--I thought it'll be simpler to block all 24 at once, and then assemble. So much fun to think that part of my blanket has visited the Greater Antilles.

Because it would be ridiculous to bring my Sophie's Universe blanket when travelling (it's the size of a double-bedspread by now) I embarked on a second blanket in a different colourway to take while travelling. It's now almost too large itself! Maybe I'll have a third one on the go soon. It's ludicrous, but I do like having a crochet options for when the knitting muscles get a little tired (and vice versa).

I managed to get from the light green zigzags in the centre of each side through to the edge during my cruise. So, so much sitting in the room, and I loved every moment. (One of the best things about the cruise ship is constant tea/coffee, for free, with decaf options widely available ... I'd just sit and knit (or crochet) and sip, and watch my Australian Competitive Reality TV shows, and was as happy as a clam.

More fibre arts news, then I'm following up with some travel shots, so stay tuned for those.

Once we returned to port in Miami, we stayed in Coral Gables for one more day, to experience a slightly different neighbourhood from South Beach (where we were initially, soaking up all that Art Deco architecture). Coral Gables is a more sedate community with lovely homes, elegant gardens, a central core with restaurants and shops, including (drum roll ...) a local yarn store! At last!

It was called the Knitting Garden and they were very nice--two of the staff had attended Madrona last year despite it being as far away as you can get from Miami while still being in the continental US, and we had a lovely chat about that. I explained that I was limiting my souvenir shopping to skeins of yarn, the more local the better, and lo-and-behold they had a Florida-based yarn dyed in a colourway that was exclusive to the shop! It couldn't be more perfect. (I bought other yarn, too, just 'cause, included a Lucy Neatby designed colourway--I hadn't realised that was something she'd been up to).

So the exclusive colourway was called "TKG Lady Slipper" (TKG for the Knitting Garden), and it's a worsted-weight yarn from Lorna's Laces. So pretty! I resolved to make bookmarks.

(When one is in the midst of creating four giant blankets, the thought of knitting up a fast-paced bookmark, or a wrist warmer, or guitar pick or Barbie headband or dollhouse teapot cosy or molecule starts becoming irresistible):

I'm using a much smaller needle than I ordinarily would for that weight. My tremendously exciting pattern, which I made up out of my very own head, goes like this:

1. Cast on 1

2. Knit front & back

3. Knit across

4. Knit front & back, knit to last stitch, knit front & back

repeat steps 3 & 4 until you have desired width (I went for 12 stitches wide, but hey, it's your bookmark)

5. Slip first stitch, knit to end

repeat step 5 until you have desired length.

6. Bind off, weave in ends (or leave them in--it's a bookmark, after all, sticking out bits is de rigueur).

Ta da!

Now, on to the travel portion. First up, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico (which is not pronounced Porta Reeko, it's Poo Air Toe Rrrrrrrrrr(roll the R)eeko. Very important.

Next stop, Charlotte-Amlie in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Island. Loads of tourist shops (ugh) interspersed with less-crowded heritage alleyways, but I like the iguanas best--they were so different from one another, even I could tell them apart.

Then to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic--it's a brand new resort without a lot of heritage and history (or any, really) so we just went to an Adventure Park, where I got to knit.

Final stop was Nassau, the Bahamas, which was weirdly Canadian (and I'm a weird Canadian, so I fit right in). Presumably because Americans would simply settle in Florida for an identical climate, the nearby Bahamas, former British territory, played host to several wealthy Canadians over the years--all the principal grand homes were (or are) owned by Canadians. We also ventured across the water to nearby Paradise Island and peeked at the large, Vegas-like Atlantis complex.

They have guards all over the place to make sure muggles like me don't get into the pretty parts (pool, private beach, aquarium) without paying for the privilege ... but somehow forgot to post a person at the library. So we went outside through that door, and unwittingly saved $150 (without the posted person preventing passage, I had no idea we were in a forbidden zone, although I eventually figured it out and went back--Canadians, so honest).

Cruise over, and we were back on the mainland. Coral Gable's main claim to fame is likely their spectacular Biltmore Hotel, a gorgeous mishmash of early European influences with Moorish touches.

And then home again--thank goodness (we have a dog who gets greatly missed!)

On the Needles (and actively being worked on):

  • Sophie's Universe crochet project #1 (Part 18: Round 112, one round left--it ends at round 113! (And then I add extra rounds, to turn it into a queen-size bedspread))

  • Sophie's Universe crochet project #2 (Part 6: Round 46)

  • Bookmark (3/4 through)

  • Ridiculous Giant Blanket, blog post to follow about this.

  • Persian Dreams Blanket (round 1 of Hexagon 7)

  • A Dream of Steam and Brass (added a second ball, will bind off when close to end)

  • GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater (finished the torso, currently well above the cuffs of Arms One and Two (I'm knitting both at once--but on separate needles, I'm not that clever yet))

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