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Friday, December 3, 2010

A Newcomer’s Guide to The Cross Stitching Men of America Cruise 2010

My journey of a thousand miles started with a single footstep: toward my car so I could drive to the airport. Loaded up with snacks of all kinds, I was prepared to embark on the trip of a lifetime. I was headed to the First Annual Cross Stitching Men of America Cruise 2010; the world’s largest gathering of cross-stitchers from across the nation. At first I was nervous, since I was just beginning my love affair with the hoop and needle.

I arrived on a Monday afternoon to a crowded loading platform, seasickness pills in hand. I was impressed by the immensity of the ship; I was even more astonished by how muggy the hot Florida weather could be. The line to check in was brief and before I knew it, we had set sail on an adventure I knew I would never forget.

I took my time unpacking my suitcases. I have always been very meticulous about the way my shirts stack, and I am especially careful that my socks are separated into colors. Like food, different colored socks should never touch. When I was done, I decided to go explore. This was not the best idea.

I was ten feet outside my cabin when two guys came sprinting down the hall, laughing all the way. They ran right into me, knocking my Ham and Cheese Hot Pocket to the ground. I shook my head as I thought, Why do they let guys like that on board? This must be how Dr. Otto Scratchensniff must have felt while dealing with The Warners, Yacko, Wacko and their sister Dot, from the cartoon The Animaniacs.

My first class was a basic course on how to make my own custom cross stitch hoops. The instructor looked like he came right out of a big bad biker dude movie. He wore a black, sweaty bandana, and the tip of his frizzy gray beard brushed the top of his large belly. He was the last man on Earth I had expected to teach a class like this.

Though a little gruff, his lesson was extremely comprehensive, and I left excited and anxious to make my first classic car shaped hoop. From there, I headed straight to my second course, entitled Pattern Design for the Modern Man. I was excited for this class, however, you can imagine my dismay upon walking in to see none other than my two friends from the hallway. Suffice it to say, this class was not as enjoyable as the last one, the constant chattering will be echoing in my head throughout the night. I did make a completely radical design for a WWII airplane dog-fighting scene.

There is something to be said for cruise food, let me tell you. Ice cream for appetizer, entrees from all over the world, and finished off with another heaping dish of ice cream. Mother is not here to make sure you are eating a balanced meal, so feel free to explore!

Later on in the week, I enjoyed an all day class where “Size Does Matter”- A Course on Giant Cross Stitching. Joined by Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, I decided to use their excited energy for good. We formed a team and created the best piece of art I have ever made, at least since the second grade: A 12’x12’ rendition of “The Flag Raisers on Iwo Jima.” Instead of the classic thread and needle, we used colored nylon rope and a 3-foot-long PVC pipe to create a high-octane, man-core piece of art.

Believe it or not, I enjoyed working on a team with Orville and Francis.  I learned that high energy is a wonderful asset to have on a team, when channeled correctly. I also learned that it is important not to judge too harshly at first. Especially on a cross stitching cruise!

The rest of my experience was similar to my first day; enjoyable classes complete with my new found friends, amazing food, and a lot of time spent working on my tan at the pool. I must have spent $50 on band-aids for all the times I pricked my fingers! I’ve got to find a company that makes thimbles big enough for my great big fingers! Overall, I think my cross stitching skills have been enhanced in a way that would not have occurred otherwise. To be honest, it was one of the most enjoyable vacations I’ve taken in a long time!

Men of the world: I am issuing a formal invitation, nay, a call of duty! Cross stitching is an art form! There are literally hundreds of us just like you. Please join us in June 2011 for the second annual cruise. You will enjoy yourself while honing your skills and meeting other cross stitchers from around the country. You will be so glad you did. Bon voyage!

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