The Trip of A Lifetime

Next week, I leave for to Sydney, Australia, to embark on my second Craft Cruise. I had so much fun on the cruise to Alaska in May that I begged to be allowed back. And it worked. The cruise is a 14-day excursion that has two stops in Australia–Sydney and Melbourne, then over to Hobart, Tasmania, then two days at sea to reach Milford Sound in New Zealand, followed by stops in Port Chalmers, Akaroa, Picton, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga, and finally ending in Auckland.

For my part, I’ll teach classes the four days that we spend entirely at sea, which all happen to be on the front end of the cruise. After that, I get to hang out with my new knitting friends and see a part of the world that has always been a mystery to me. Of course, we’ll tour the exquisite scenery, the Ashford Company, and see lots and lots of sheep and yarn shops.

I spent the day collecting what I hope is everything I need to pack for the classes–Top-Down Sweaters with Set-In Sleeves, Introduction to Sweater Design, Socks at any Gauge, Toe-Up Socks with a Wedge Toe and Round Heel, and Cast-On and Bind-Off Techniques. Altogether, it amounts to a fairly large pile of essentials that weighs a hefty 20 pounds.

Photo of class materials

There’s little chance that I’ll be able to fit it and my clothes in a single suitcase without going over the 50 pound limit, so I’ll have to deal with two bags. But it shouldn’t be a problem because the surgeon just told me I’m good to start strengthening exercises. Nothing like rolling suitcases to get me started!

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Hill Country Weavers Annual Retreat

Last year over this weekend the Hill Country Weavers in Austin, Texas, held their first-ever retreat–Knitting In The Hills Getaway. I had the good fortune to be one of the first teachers (Romi Hill was the other). Because this was on of the best organized and funnest retreats I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a lot), I was disappointed that my schedule wouldn’t allow me to attend this year.

Well, it just so happens that at the retreat last year I became good friends with the organizer, Cindy, who felt bad that I couldn’t join in this years fun (I think my broken arm added to her pity). So what did she do? She sent me the same swag bag that was given to all the attendees.

Swag bag with presents

Last night we connected on FaceTime as I opened all the wrapped gifts. And, as last year, the gifts were superb:

Swag bag gifts

In addition to the large tote (with a square base!), the gifts included a 400-yd yd skein of Civility Sport (70% U.S. merino, 30% mulberry silk), complements of Elemental Affects; a small tube of highlighter tape; a Knitter’s Pride Row Counter; the book Zealana Passport Fall/Winter 2014, featuring patterns by Cirilia Rose (one of this year’s instructors) and including a color card; a set of my most favorite Brittany cable needles; two small pom-pom makers from Clover; a Magma Knitting Pattern Holder (for holding and storing knitting patterns and charts), also from from Knitter’s Pride (I am so going to take this with me on my trip to Australia/New Zealand later this month!); a Try-It-On Tubing for handknitters that allows you to add length to circular needles so you can try your sweater on as you go (a perfect companion for The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters, by the way), from Machine Knitting to Dye For; a ceramic mug that’s embossed with a cable-rib pattern from Leed’s that will become my new morning coffee cup; a Blade-650 mini digital pocket scale with a 650-gram capacity (great for telling how much yarn you have leftover) from American Weigh Scales; and last, but certainly not least, a handmade small project knitting bag made by Magic Junie Sews, which I will most certainly take on my trip to Australia/New Zealand.

What a great haul!

I encourage you to sign up for next year’s Knitting in the Hills Getaway you can fit it in your schedule — I promise you won’t be disappointed.


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Space Available on Craft Cruise Australia/New Zealand Trip

I am reaching out to everyone I can think of who may still have interest in joining the 2-week Craft Cruise (trip from Sydney, Australia, to Auckland, New Zealand, or who may have contact with people who might want to attend. For personal reasons, one knitter had to cancel and will lose quite a bit of money because her reason for canceling is not covered by her travel insurance.
This is going to be a fantastic trip — it’s certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me. Craft Cruises is in the final stages of firming up the private shore events. Not only will we be going to all sorts of great places, but we’ll connect with fabulous designers, yarn producers, farmers, and knitters along the way.  The cruise departs from Sydney, Australia, on Sunday, March 22, 2015 and disembarks in Auckland, New Zealand, on (Easter) Sunday, April 5, 2015.
The cost is about $2,100, which includes all meals, endless entertainment, and the opportunity for four days of knitting classes (air fare from the U.S. will be an additional $2,000).
Below are links to some highlights in addition to the on-board class program and the visit to Tasmania (which is reason enough to go on this cruise).
Contact me if you’re interested!

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Coming and Going

I was in Atlanta last weekend to teach at the Atlanta Knitter’s Guild. Talk about southern hospitality — look at the cake they had ready (yum!):


I finished my Stephen West Daybreak shawl on the plane and was glad to have it at times in the cold air-conditioned buildings.

all done

Tomorrow I head to The Loopy Ewe’s Fall Fling. Fortunately, it’s being held just an hour from my house so I don’t have to get on a plane. Still, I’ll want to have something to knit on during the evenings. Guess I’ll have to tear through my stash tonight to find something that strikes my fancy.

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Tracing My Roots

While you read this, I’ll be in Lillisand, Norway, visiting the home of my mother’s ancestors (her grandfather, Severin Gustav Simonsen) was born in Lillesand (I think) in 1859 and immigrated to Chicago in 1881.

This has been a longtime dream that’s suddenly coming true. I’ll be traveling with my sister and cousin, both of whom are genealogy buffs. My mother’s aunt Alma (Severin’s daughter, a first-generation American) journeyed back to Norway in 1920. She kept a diary of the four months that she was there (crossing the Atlantic in a steamer could not have been fun so she probably stayed as long as possible). My cousin and sister have been keep to retrace some of her steps and I get to tag along. Thank goodness we get to fly!

We have that diary (which my cousin has faithfully copied, along with photos) and we’re going to visit some of the sights that she saw.

Alma's journal cover


Well, I thought you’d be able to read the first page, but it looks pretty blurry to me. The most interesting passage on this page reads, “To make my going away more exiting about fourteen of the Amici girls, who had gathered at the station, showered me with loads of rice making everybody think I was a bride. Of course in a few seconds about 50 to 75 spectators had gathered to see the bride (?) and wondered which one was the groom.”  My Aunt Alma traveled to Norway alone (she must have been fiesty)  and never married.

We’ll visit Oslo and Bergen, as well as Lillesand. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some real Norwegian wool.

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