As happens every year in January, I have changed venue from my messy studio in Connecticut to a tiny living space and studio aboard our boat Pandora, in the Caribbean. It’s now mid-January, and I have been in Antigua in the West Indies for two weeks.
We arrived by plane on January 30, with one day to move into the historic English Harbour for the annual New Year’s Eve’s fireworks, after first having a memorable French dinner at La Brasserie. English Harbour is where Lord Nelson protected this island’s sugar cane plantations before he was Lord Nelson. He made a name for himself here which catapulted his career. Over the past 60 years Nelson’s Dockyard has been carefully restored and is now a UNESCO site. It’s a dramatic place, and also quite lovely. There is a strong sense of the 18th century here, amidst some modern conveniences, like running water and electricity for the boats on the dock!
Dinner at La Brasserie and the fireworks afterward never disappoint!
But my real story here is how I plan to continue to work while I am living aboard. I often get lonely over the winter because I miss ‘my people,’ those I meet with at groups throughout the year. They are the spinners, weavers, lace makers, and others who work with their hands who inspire me and learn with me. Down here people do plenty of work with their hands. Just keeping their boats running is a huge job, and often there are women who do handwork as well, which includes knitting, crocheting, quilting, embroidery, and other kinds of handwork, and even more pressing work like sail repair and canvas work on their boats. Sadly, in the 11 years we’ve been doing blue water sailing, I have yet to meet another weaver.
This year a friend of mine who is down here for the first time aboard her own boat, with her husband, has started a needlework group that meets twice a week. Now, why didn’t I think of that? Every Tuesday and Thursday we meet for at least two hours. The group changes week by week as some sailors move on to different harbors on different islands, and some new comers join us. It’s been fascinating. We actually have a member who lives here in a house, although she’s also quite an accomplished sailor. I definitely look forward to this creative time with new friends each week. Thank you, Ellen, for making this happen!
The restaurant of the Antigua Yacht Club allows us to use their space to meet. How generous! Our surroundings are amazing so sometimes we just have put down our projects and admire the views.
I have been bringing my tiny Nano 2 e-spinner to some of the meetings. This is my first spinning project on this little gem, and I was concerned about stressing it by filling the bobbin too full or spinning too fast. It can handle anything I’ve done so far, and I think it’s perfect for spinning in small spaces.
The second bobbin is almost full, so Bob will soon be ’inventing’ a lazy Kate for me to hold the bobbins while I ply the the strands of yarn together from each bobbin. I knew I’d forget something! I’m looking forward to seeing how the plied yarn turns out. I believe I know what I’ll do with this yarn when I get access to my looms at home.
This old fashioned hot water bottle cover was the first thing I finished during the first week of January. I won’t need it down here, will I? Still, it was something that caught my eye before we left home, and I enjoyed knitting it! To make the opening I knit one round in waste yarn, only on the front half of the stitches, and then unpicked the waste yarn to separate the front into two pieces for an opening.
As I unpicked the waste yarn I picked up stitches on both the upper and lower sides of the knitting. Then I could knit ribbing on the lower half and ribbing plus a button hole on the upper half.
And here is the finished hot water bottle cover. I just need a button. I will block this on the actual water bottle when I return home.
Yesterday was my birthday, and I woke up to two surprises. One was a decorated main saloon on Pandora! Bob bought these fun decorations in the US before he sailed down here. How thoughtful! It feels like party, although I do not! I awoke on my birthday to some kind of very nasty bug. I hope it’s only food poison, but in the middle of the night for the past two nights I’ve imagined myself dying of ecoli or some other horrible thing. Surely, I’ll be on the mend soon!
And how about these fun knitting inspired presents? I love them! This is a journal in case you’re wondering.
In the meantime, I had a wonderful zoom call with family and a couple of close friends. The joys of keeping in touch with loved ones, from such remote places, is priceless! This year Bob has just installed Star Link. So far, so good! It’s struggling with streaming video so far, and it requires more of our battery power than he realized. Thank heaven for solar, wind, and lithium batteries. I have been trying to catch up on the videos I missed from Giovanna Imperia’s class for the American Kumihimo Society’s recent online event. But I’m not discouraged yet! It’s interesting to hear the small white Star Link disc change direction as Pandora moves to and fro at anchor.
I hope to back to normal soon so I can finish spinning and move on to other projects. I wish you well in your own endeavors in the new year.