Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 3:52 PM on Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Some hobbies more than money pit

While standing in line for my morning coffee a few months ago, I overheard a conversation between two women. The portion I'm about to share obviously stayed with me longer than the coffee.

Apparently the two friends hadn't seen each other for some time. The brief delay in their day offered an opportunity to catch up. There was talk of busy schedules, kids, the weather and, finally, spouses.

Woman No. 1: "So, what's your husband up to?"

Woman No. 2: "He's working on the boat."

Long pause.

Woman No. 2: "Why is it I'm feeling guilty about the cost of my favorite coffee when every time he works on the boat it costs thousands of dollars?"

Both women and every other woman within earshot — including myself — laughed. A knowing, inside-joke kind of laugh.

I recalled that exchange recently after renewing a childhood interest in knitting and falling completely in love with the craft's many aspects. The patterns. The textures. The sound of needles clicking together. The rhythm. The colors and smells of different types of yarn. The company of other knitters. The thrill of creating something. The joy of making items for family and friends.

As a result, in the last two months I have accumulated a small, but growing collection of yarn, needles and patterns. I've bookmarked websites where I can find free patterns. I've made notes of what I made and for whom so I don't repeat myself. I've put post-it notes in books, marking designs I'm eager to try.

Just before Christmas, when scarves, hats, headbands and washcloths I'd made for gifts were stacking up and more ideas were popping into my head and I found it difficult to sleep for the excitement of getting everything done, but still needing a skein of yarn for this and a different sized pair of needles for that, it hit me: guilt.

Sure, I was making things for others. Yes, I was eliminating a lot of shopping. And everything I made that had to be mailed was light so it would require less postage.

But — and here's the big but — I was having way too much fun. Did that mean I was being selfish? Had knitting become more than a hobby? Did it border on an obsession? Was I on the brink of trading the family fortune for a treasure trove of needles and patterns, only to find we were no longer able to pay for electricity or heating oil? Would I begin letting dirty dishes stack up in the sink? Laundry remain unfolded? The cat's litter box in desperate need of cleaning?

It was at that point the conversation between the two women came back to me and a mental image flashed through my mind of my husband's beautiful 41-foot sailboat that has carried him on many an adventure. The same boat that sat on land for nearly a year while it was having its electrical system redone, its water tank replaced, its fuel tank fixed, its lines restrung. The boat that — except for those months onshore — occupies a rented slip in the harbor, ready in case we want to go sailing, which we did all of twice last summer. The boat that must be winterized, kept warm and snow-free.

To my husband's credit he has never complained while stepping over balls of yarn to get from one room to another or having to be careful where he sits so as to avoid the pointed ends of needles. Wondrously and without any prompts from me, he has actually noticed new patterns I've tried and complimented me on items I've made. He even — bless his heart — wears the hat I made for him.

He knows — because I've pointed it out — at the price per skein of yarn, I'd have to do a whole lot of knitting to ever match the constantly increasing price tag hanging on the boat. On the other hand, I recognize you can't sail a skein of yarn on Kachemak Bay, much less across the Pacific Ocean.

Then again, it might actually be possible. With very small needles and just the right kind of yarn, a leak-proof result might be achievable. With my husband's boat as a model and the yarn requirements of my last six-foot-by-six-inch scarf as a go-by, I should be able to mathematically determine how many skeins it would take to create a 41-foot hull with a 13-foot beam. The sails are simple triangles. Masts and keel might be a bit tricky, but not unsolvable.

Oh, yes, this just might work.

If not, the attempt will make a good story. Some might even call it a yarn.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.