My husband and I went on the most amazing cruise last year — the JoCoCruise 2019. We met, played games with, crafted, and enjoyed the company of the most amazing 2000 people ever. And being huge Jonathan Coulton fans, of course we loved all the musical performances. (Can you guess who the cruise is named after?) If you haven’t heard of this incredible cruise, check out the NY Times review here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/travel/joco-cruise-jonathan-coulton.html
We don’t do a lot of vacationing, so after enjoying ourselves so much, we booked for the 2020 sailing. Aside from the official performers and events, the cruisers themselves host an insane number of events (a.k.a. “shadow events”). These range from writing seminars to science talks, from learning to lockpick to learning a new craft. Yes, they even have a crafting ROOM on board.
So of course, I wanted to find a way to introduce the people on the boat to my passion of temari. After all, self described “nerds” that craft? What could be a more perfect audience?
So I signed up last year to host a number of shadow events. I didn’t want to over-extend myself…after all, this was supposed to be my vacation. But I love what I do, so really, it felt like the right thing to do. I signed up to host a talk about temari, and host two separate 2 hour classes teaching 20 people to stitch a ball. Yes, 20 people. When I signed up, they were hoping I could take on more. But yikes! This is twice as many people as I usually can handle, in half the time.
As the cruise got closer, I had to really bust my tail to get 40 balls all wrapped and marked. I was using a pattern that I usually teach, but I had to modify it somewhat, to make it as simple as possible. So I changed the markings from a simple 8 to a compound 8 to eliminate the use of pins and measuring tape. More work for me, but easier for the students.
I also had to pack up 40 kits of needles, thread, and instructions. Oh, and I had to make a slide show for my talk. I usually just wing it with a huge pile of temari to hold everyone’s attention, but being on the boat meant a microphone and projector. I admit, I was still working on this up to the day before we left!
My nerves about teaching such a large group got much better once we were on the boat. I had brought along a small bag of finished temari to show off to as many people as I could, along with my class supplies. I was as ready as I was going to be!
The thing about the cruise is that there is WAY more programming than anyone can attend. Hundreds of hours of programming. That means that peak times can have eight, ten or more things going on at once. Sadly, my temari talk was scheduled during a peak afternoon at sea, and there were a TON of amazing programs going on (including a reading by a Hugo Award winning Science Fiction author…even *I* wanted to go to that instead!). There were a number of people that dropped by while running to another event, sad that they were going to miss my talk.
Despite the smaller crowd, I had a great talk. Everyone that came was extremely interested and excited to hear about Japanese Temari. They had great questions, were super engaged, and didn’t mind at all that they were hearing all of this from someone dressed up as an elf! (It was “Cosplay Day”, and I was braving my first ever cosplay, as Rayla from the Netflix show “The Dragon Prince”. So yes, I’m the one with the white hair and horns”).
I encouraged everyone that wanted to try out stitching to show up early to the crafting sessions, and boy was that a good move. I was told that crafting classes are “extremely popular” shadow events, and they were not kidding. Only having 20 kits (and not much more table space anyway), the first class lined up and filled a good 30 minutes before our room even opened up! And the next day, the line stretched out even longer. We had to turn away a lot of people, which was very hard for me.
Luckily, I had an amazing assistant with me, who showed off some finished temari, and introduced people that were not able to fit into the class to the awesome craft that we were doing. He spent the entire class time both days educating and entertaining people, while passing out supplies and handling any issues that popped up. Amazing!
Despite not being able to accommodate everyone that was interested, the classes were amazing! I was nervous, and I certainly did not get the same amount of one-on-one time with everyone that I am used to. But not only did the participants get it, but they really loved it! We all had a marvelous time together, and most people really wanted to do more. I recommended Barbara Suess’s books, and the groups.io channel “Temari Challenge” to everyone, as I always do.
It was so fun to see pictures of finished temari popping up on the cruise media. I even saw people stitching at official events!
Even now, in some of the JoCoCruise social media, photos of lovely temari are popping up. More and more people are asking them, what is that amazing craft you are doing?…. Ah, yes. The love and addiction of temari is spreading.
Post Script: Our cruise sailed from March 7th to March 14th. Holland America was extremely vigilant about pushing hand-washing and hand-sanitizing while we were on board, and all the cruisers were eager to comply. They even sprayed us with sanitizer every time we entered the food areas! At this point, no one on our sailing had or has contracted the Covid-19 virus, and most if not all of us are happily finishing out our self-imposed 14-day quarantines.
And while I am extremely pleased that so many new temari stitchers are exploring this great craft with their unexpected downtime, I am hoping first and foremost that everyone remains safe and healthy. Thanks for reading, and Happy and Healthy stitching to you!