I have not been a big fan of cruising. When I was a kid, I went on a Caribbean cruise with my mom, my grandmother and my great-aunt and that was a lot of fun, mostly because I was 10 and I had the run of the ship. But as an adult, I have been less than enthusiastic about the couple of cruises I have been on. I don’t like to be cooped up in relatively small places with relatively large numbers of people. I don’t like planned tours. And I don’t like drunken revelers I cannot get away from.
But when K2Tog, the yarn store where I work a couple of days a week, announced a
“knitting cruise” from Vancouver, B.C. to San Francisco I was tempted. A lot. The cruise was a repositioning cruise aboard the Norwegian Star, a ship in the Norwegian Cruise Line. The plan was for about 14 of us to go together and spend a couple of hours each day learning to knit toe-up socks with the store owner, Ellen Graves. We would disembark in Victoria, B.C and Astoria, Oregon to visit local yarn stores and then leave the cruise in San Francisco, a few miles from our homes, and let it continue down to Los Angeles without us.
I asked my mom if she’d like to take the cruise with me, and last week we met in Vancouver and boarded the ship. The weather was perfect – about 75 degrees and sunny.We spent the morning trying to find breakfast – long story, but with a happy ending. If you are ever in Vancouver, track down the Maple Leaf Delicatessen on Burrard Street. Sounds like you’ll be eating Canadian bacon with maple syrup served by Mounties, right? nuh-uh. It was all Ukrainian and Russian food served by a man and a woman who could not have been nicer or better cooks! We both had sandwiches and salads with Russian flair. EXCELLENT!
The ship left on a Sunday afternoon, going out through the Burrard Inlet and under the
Lion’s Gate Bridge. Mom and I sat on the pool deck and watched Canada go by. Then we went to meet the other knitters in the “London” conference room, which the ship’s excellent group services person had set aside for our use every day. Inside were a half-dozen other knitters, besides mom and me – Lynn, from Oregon, and her friend Kim,a new knitter from the Bay Area, Kathy, a knitter from San Francisco and a frequent cruiser, and four sisters on their first cruise. None of us had done toe-up socks before.
Toe-up socks. This was my first time tackling them, as I have been a big fan of top-down socks for a number of years. Ellen told us she does not like to teach this class because the frustration level of the students can get high. Indeed, this was not easy – crochet cast-on, wrapping stitches, knitting a series of stitches and wraps together – but I like a challenge. I chose a Christmas yarn from our store – a Universal Yarns self-patterning sock yarn in Christmas red, green, maroon and white, all shot through with gold thread. After a couple of false starts, I had turned the toe at the end of the first day’s session. It was like magic, how that flat, weird piece of cast-on and stitches became a three-dimensional toe-cap. Crazy!
After class, mom and I set the standard for the rest of our cruise – we left the conference room and headed for the Spinnaker Lounge, a large room at the front of the ship that is wrapped in windows. We took a table at the front on the right, ordered a prosecco (for me) and a bloody Mary (for mom) and listened to the ship’s band – Melodious Jones (“The Family Band from Las Vegas”) – sing some oldies. The room was virtually empty, so mom and I sat and sang along, sipping our drinks. It wasn’t long before the knitting came out and there we were, heading into the sunset, knitting, singing and sipping. What could be better?