The Vacation Log: Day 4

My first drawing lesson took place last night, and Mr. Joseph did I great job being patient with me. One of the great parts about learning a new skill from someone who is so talented and refined with their own is the simple opportunity to appreciate them as a master within their art.

As expected, I have all the talent for sketching of a three year old with finger paint, except I lack the imagination to just go with it. When my nephew decided ponies are purple with green spots, he’s so convicted about it. In his world, it’s okay for ponies to be purple with green spots. My imagination has been boxed up pretty tightly for a couple of decades, so bridging the gap between a lack of skill necessitating practical drawing exercises while letting my design imagination run wild started to drive me a little crazy.

Since I didn’t want to embarrass myself by attempting to showcase my sketches with a feigned pride (let’s face it, I’m not your child, so you’re not going to proudly display it on your refrigerator even though you know ponies are not purple with green spots), here’s a little picture story of how the lesson went last night as told by Mila:

"Oh, hi there."
“Oh, hi there.”
"What are you guys doing on my table?"
“What are you guys doing on my table?”
"Drawing, eh? I could do that."
“Drawing, eh? I could do that.”
"That design would look great on me."
“That design would look great on me.”
"Let's face it - I could do this better than you can."
“Let’s face it – I could do this better than you can.”
"Really, stop trying to draw like dad - and stop taking pictures of me."
“Really, stop trying to draw like dad – and stop taking pictures of me.”
"I asked you nicely. I'm going to go claw at something in your knitting basket. Good luck on this drawing thing."
“I asked you nicely. I’m going to go claw at something in your knitting basket. Good luck on this drawing thing.”

After Mila’s wonderful encouragement, I was inspired to practice drawing my egg-heads and figures until it at least felt familiar. It was really nice to do something knitting related for a little while, and it did make me yearn for the comfort of picking up my knitting and whizzing away on my rows like a solid pro. Hopefully, someday, the drawing will feel as natural as the knitting. For now, I’ll hold my breath until it happens.

The sleeves of my Beck sweater seem to be growing more slowly compared to the back and front, which I know is impossible. Maybe it’s just the anticipation of knowing that after these two sleeves, I’m pretty much done, so my eagerness to finish it is making it seemingly take longer to complete. Eh.

drawing lesson (8 of 9)

The good news? The increases have been completed, so it’s just straight knitting from this point forward, and there’s only about eight inches worth, which equates to 12 cable repeats, which I can almost count on two hands, which does make the finish line seem a little closer. Except, when I’m done, I have to make another sleeve. I should have knit both at the same time. I’m pretty sure I say it every time I make a sweater, but never remember in time to actually take my own advice. At least now it’s in writing, which will certainly make me remember the next time, right? Probably not.

Really good news? Last night, while battling The Closet, I found this little gem, which was a Christmas gift from Mr. Joseph’s mother, Sue, last year.

drawing lesson (9 of 9)

I have no idea where she found it, but I’m in love. I finally started putting some loose change in this little knitting-bank to save up for a stash splurge (or spinning wheel) sometime during 2014. So far, I can barely by a pound of Red Heart, but I have high hopes for this year.

Mr. Joseph and I are off to a neighbor’s wedding for the evening (just another delay in finishing my sleeve, really), and there are only three short days left of my vacation. I will not rest tonight until the sleeve is completed – no matter how much I drink tonight (but then again, I say this every night, so I’m sure I’ll make some progress.)

Happy Sunday evening to you all – and happy knitting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Hunter Liam

Hunter's grandmother had him making buttons and threading her sewing machine at the age of three. Ever since then, he's been obsessed with making things with his hands as a form of creative expression.Knitter, spinner, designer, writer, photographer, dancer . . . or just a creative soul with ADD.

The Vacation Log: Day 3

Today shall be known as the “lost day” of my vacation. I’m twelve hours behind in doing all the things I wanted to do, so here’s an attempt at salvaging the last five hours left before Day 3 clicks over into Day 4.

Where did the last twelve hours go?

Well, I decided to wage a war against a list of the most unruly entities within my household: the Closet, the cats, and my yarn stash.

Why did I decide to do this?

Simple. I had a mental break yesterday while trying to do two accomplish two relatively mundane things: knitting a hat and sleeping.

What exactly happened?

I promised a friend and Mr. Joseph a hat to keep their lovely heads warm as we turn the corner into 2014. I couldn’t find my smallest Addi interchangeable cord required for either project the proper sized needle tips.

Verdict: Fail.

While attempting to lull myself to sleep last night, my skin began itching like mad – not unusual for me, particularly during the harsher parts of the winter. I made my way to the bathroom to grab my anti-crocodile skin lotion, flicked on the light, and caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror: I looked like a cat had been sitting on my face. I never realized my children loved cuddling up in the linen sheets as much as I did.

Looking for a resolution, I did what any sane adult does at 2 AM when all they went to do is catch some sleep: I drank a couple of glasses of red wine while watching an episode of AbFab and passed out on the couch (I was not about to strip the sheets, and the cork to the bottle had been misplaced anyway.)

Verdict: Partial win in my mind, but my mom (a proper adult) would probably call this a fail.

How did I attempt to win the war?

I channeled all of the domestic powers of my ancestors and woke up this morning ready to flawlessly enter into battle.

  1. Groceries were purchased and put away by 7:25 AM.
  2. Coffee as morning fuel (and one for Mr. Joseph before work) was lovingly made by my favorite barista at Starbucks. I chugged the latte during the 10 minute drive home.
  3. I cleaned the vacuum before attempting to vacuum. Who knew?
  4. I shifted every piece of furniture in the house. Under the couch, my size five interchangeable needle tips, but no cord. Under the bed, half a dozen pairs of mismatched socks and the missing cord.
  5. I vacuumed everything at least four times today. I even used the various upholstery tools, which were also found underneath the couch.
  6. The Closet is the only closet in our entire apartment. As a result, anything I don’t want people to see (i.e. mess) gets shoved into Closet. Closet also houses my clothing. And the extra sheets. Some curtains. And over fifteen pounds of Icelandic wool. Note: I need to replace my spinning wheel soon.
  7. The Closet had a collection of boxes from when we moved in – six months ago – that I never sorted out. All of these boxes where 50% crap mixed in with 50% of my favorite things I have been searching high and low to find for about, well . . . six months.
  8. After I ripped everything out of the closet, sorted the boxes, I had eight full bags of trash to throw away. The Closet is now just a closet again.
  9. Things I found: my first pair of signature knitting needles, a piggy bank dedicated to purchasing yarn and fiber foodies with about $50 tucked away (2014 is off to a great start), about half a dozen unfinished projects way beyond their due date, the original battery charger to my camera, and another set of Addi needle tips (outside of the broken needle I have to replace, the set is now tucked away in its full glory.)
  10. Every surface in the house has been vacuumed, pillows and curtains have been de-haired via lint roller, and anything I could launder has made its way through the wash. I thought I needed new pants. I just needed to do laundry.
  11. Pulled BBQ chicken has been slow cooking for six hours. Garlic mashed potatoes are in the process of boiling away on top of the oven.
  12. I washed the floors old-school style on my hands and knees with a rag. All corners and baseboards have been stripped of their cat hair adornments.
  13. I drew myself a bath. I ran out of hot water while cleaning the floors. I filled the tub anyway, boiled a soup pot of water, and treated myself to a calming bath.
  14. My house and my self have never been this clean. See you later 2013, it’s been real.

Time to sit back, eat, and enjoy my first drawing lesson. Four hours left – let’s make it count.

 

About Hunter Liam

Hunter's grandmother had him making buttons and threading her sewing machine at the age of three. Ever since then, he's been obsessed with making things with his hands as a form of creative expression.Knitter, spinner, designer, writer, photographer, dancer . . . or just a creative soul with ADD.

The Vacation Log: Day 2

Let’s start with business first. I owe you photos of the Colonnade Shawl I finished yesterday for Mr. Joseph. The lighting was fantastic today, so I had trouble decided on the best few. The good news?  I have a ton of pictures to share.

colonnade shawl stephen west (4 of 13) colonnade shawl stephen west (7 of 13) colonnade shawl stephen west (6 of 13) colonnade shawl stephen west (2 of 13) colonnade shawl stephen west (5 of 13) colonnade shawl stephen west (1 of 13)

During our trips to knitting and fiber events this year, Mr. Joseph has always been a great sport in supporting my addiction. We’ve enjoyed browsing the cornucopia of fiber goodies available from the vendors who attend Stitches Midwest and Vogue Knitting LIVE!. No mater where we go or who’s booth we’re in, he’s been attracted to almost every Stephen West pattern or sample we’ve stumbled upon. After each discovery, the begging has commenced. I told myself I would grant his wish like the good little knitting genie I am.

When I was venturing through WEBS during our road trip to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving, I had this particular pattern in mind for him. The Laines du Nord Romeo I picked up in their clearance warehouse fit the bill perfectly, being a combination of his favorite colors (colorway 53 – browns and blacks and beiges – oh my!).

Even though this was slated for a Christmas present, it was finished yesterday. Yes, it was late, but within a 24-hour window, so I hardly think it counts as late. Just tardy. We could also consider it an early Christmas 2014 gift, really. Yeah, that’s it – Merry Christmas 2014, Mr. Joseph!

I also promised to share the very best present I have ever received, but first, some back-story.

I’ve been wanting to design my own handknits for quite some time but have been too fearful to make the commitment. True, I’ll occasionally throw together a random infinity scarf or sketch a quick baby blanket, but I’ve never seriously sat down at a table and designed anything before.

After six years of knitting, the itch has started to become too, well – itchy – to ignore. As I thought about it some more, it makes sense – the urge to create and be expressive through textiles is a genetic inheritance from my grandmother. She has cultivated a fifty year career as a seamstress and designer after immigrating to the United States in 1963. As a kid, I spent many an afternoon crawling around on the floors of her bridal shop with a magnet in my hand picking up dropped pins  and dying shoes to match bridesmaid’s gowns (aren’t we all glad the ’80s are over?).

Sewing never resonated with me outside of creating a few pillowcases as a teenager, but we did have the opportunity to bond over some knitting needles in 2008. At the time, I was spending over 100 hours a week on a ballroom dance floor while zigzagging the United States in airplanes. I hated flying, and more than the intense time commitment, the stress of doing so constantly was reeking havoc on my body. She suggested the knitting would calm me down and give me something to focus on other than crashing down to the ground, and it worked.

Slowly but surely, I was knitting everywhere I could (I only realized how much time I spent on the road when I had something active to do with my hands – yikes!). It turns out, not only was knitting a great hobby for battling my fear of flying, but it was a great source of pride to create something tangible through a creative process. I couldn’t really share my dancing with anyone unless they were in the audience, but I could hand them a scarf I made with some sticks and a length of string. It was perfect, and among the multitude of skills I learned from my grandmother, knitting is the one I am most grateful for.

As someone who has gone “professional” with a hobby before, I’ve always felt very guarded about trying to cultivate knitting into anything more than a Saturday afternoon hobby. Even though nothing can quite compare to the wind sweeping across your face during a Viennese Waltz, doing so at a competitive level was extremely time consuming and exhausting. I do not want my knitting to ever get to the point my ballroom dancing did.

After six years of protecting my knitting as sacred, I’ve decided to take the plunge. Why? Well, I realized the reason my professional dancing career was so difficult had to do with a lack of real support. Your friends are your competitors. Your coaches are looking for accolades by creating the next set of champions. Everyone has an agenda. With knitting, I have the genuine support of the people around me, particularly Mr. Joseph, who happened to wrap all of this in a box and stick it under the Christmas tree this year:

colonnade shawl stephen west (11 of 13) colonnade shawl stephen west (10 of 13)

Art supplies for my sketches. Yup. He’s given me the little push I needed to take the plunge into knitwear design.

I’m scared and excited. Happy and nervous. Full of ideas but feel overwhelmed. I’m not sure were exactly to start, but at least I know the there is genuine support around me as I challenge myself in a new creative arena. Thanks grandma and Mr. Joseph. I’m truly blessed to have two such wonderful, artistic souls in my life. The fact that you deem me worthy of your love and support is more than I could hope for.

While I wait for my first “Art Supplies 101′ lesson to take place this weekend, I’m keeping busy  by finishing up my Beck sweater so I can enjoy it during the New Year.

colonnade shawl stephen west (13 of 13)

The back has been done for a while, and I finished the front shaping last night. I cast on the first sleeve this morning, and am ready to spend the rest of the evening clicking away on my needles.

colonnade shawl stephen west (12 of 13)

Me, a Beck sleeve, crazy amounts of coffee, and ‘Knitting Yarns’ are together for the rest of the day today. For the first time in over a week, we’re going to heat up some leftovers for dinner so I have nothing to distract me from completing the sweater. I could really get used to being on vacation.

BONUS!

After a few hours navigating technical issues on WordPress, this post is finally up for you to enjoy. During the downtime, I put on a movie and began knitting away. When I got up to finally check on the status of the post, I looked behind me to find this:

colonnade shawl stephen west (1 of 1)

Suki taking a nap. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to share. Everyone say ‘hello’!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Hunter Liam

Hunter's grandmother had him making buttons and threading her sewing machine at the age of three. Ever since then, he's been obsessed with making things with his hands as a form of creative expression.Knitter, spinner, designer, writer, photographer, dancer . . . or just a creative soul with ADD.