The Marathon

When I had to retire from ballroom dancing in 2012 due to a career-ending injury, I was devastated.  Twenty-five. I was twenty-five. I was kicked off the dance floor a dozen years too early, shortly after winning my first American Smooth champion title.

It sucked.

I pretty much spent the first year adjusting to life in the “normal” world: working from 9-5 (I’m a night owl –¬†it’s still difficult to get to the office on time), no traveling on a weekly basis, a lack physical activity, and – most painfully – no avenue for my artistic expression.

As a creative being,¬†not having an outlet was slowly causing my imagination to pool inside me, effectively¬†drowning¬†my soul. ¬†I needed to channel my artistic energy into something – anything – even if I couldn’t make a living at it¬†so I could cultivate an inner equilibrium.

Finding the appropriate channel would create stability. I needed stability in order to gain clarity. I needed the clarity to gain focus. I needed the focus so I could start rebuilding my life.

This blog became the channel I needed, combining writing, knitting, and photography into one neat package.¬† It’s also forced me to improve my skill level in all three arenas.

Having material to write about makes me accountable to progressing on my knitting. Capturing images I find acceptable to present to the world forced me to really learn about my camera as well as spend some time defining my photo editing eye. Writing?  Looking back at some of my other posts, I can see the improvement.

Knitting and blogging allowed me to channel. I found stability. I found clarity. I gained focus.

With this new found internal balance, I could trust the decisions I was making about my life’s direction. In January, I decided to go back to school full¬† time in order to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Management. The journey so far has been wild and successful.

I love learning and growing, so by extension I’ve readily enjoyed studying. Sometimes, the balance between a full time job, maintaining a household,¬† and school can be overwhelming, but it’s difficult to beat the overall sense of accomplishment. That last bind-off stitch at the end of a large blanket project? It’s sort of like that feeling.

This last weekend was the very last of the Spring semester, and I spent 30 hours (and drank double my body weight in coffee) across Saturday and Sunday wrapping up my final essays and projects for the term. When I finally finished, I was excited to move onto other activities. By other activities I mean knitting.

The Inside Out Baby Blanket is done and ready to cuddle with baby Mylah. In the meantime, it’s been hanging around the house, keeping me company in the studio while I work on schoolwork and hanging out with the cats:

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Of course, when I say it’s ready to cuddle with baby Mylah, what I mean is the stars have to align appropriately enough so I can be compelled to weave in these ends and throw it in a bath:

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I will barter some of my best yarn if you’re in the Chicago area and get turned on by the idea of weaving in ends so much you’re willing to do it for me.

I’ve decided my next project is the Yarn Harlot’s Pretty Thing cowl. It’s been on my to-knit list for about five years, and the mink yarn I purchased at Stitches Midwest last year has been sitting around untapped for wayyyy too long. Of all the stash I hoarded at the event last August, I needed to return to it this year knowing at least once skein had been put to use.

So far, I’m done with the 16 set-up rows:

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I have 300m of this stunningly soft, ruby red yarn. Since the pattern calls for 147m of yarn, I’ve made it a little longer. I also plan on adding an extra lace pattern repeat to even out the proportions; otherwise, it might look a little too thin for a cowl (I can’t believe I just said anything could be too thin).

This is the first accessory I intend on keeping for myself. I can’t wait to debut it this Fall.

I’m going to be knitting on this project all evening. I’ve given myself the evening off even though my new set of classes began today – I can’t pass up the opportunity to knit during a thunderstorm with a well-timed order of lavender candles from Amazon burning in the background.

I hope your Monday was magnificent, and your Monday evening has the potential to be as enchanting as mine.

Next week friends, we celebrate Tandem Knit’s one year anniversary. Thank you for support my outlet. You keep me grounded and centered, and I’m truly grateful for your support each and every single minute of every day.

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.

Ten Facts About Tuesday

1. I woke up this morning ready to tackle my day; it’s the last week of the semester, and I have more work to do than I’d like.

2. Part of the work that’s due this week is a web design. As usual, I’ve been a little adventurous with my goals, teaching myself Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver, aka Adobe’s Creative Suite. The software packs a punch, but there’s certainly a learning curve.

3. The changes you see to this site are me stretching my web designing fingers. It took my the better part of the weekend to complete, but I hope you love it – I do.

4. I finished knitting the Inside Out baby blanket. There are now about 40 ends to weave in. I stored it away in my knitting bag and am hopeful the next time I pull it out, said ends will be tucked away neatly (thank you in advance knitting elves).

5. With two back-to-back blankets under my belt and my spinning/knitting/designing a queen sized one currently, I needed something I could finish quickly.

6. The Yarn Harlot’s Pretty Thing cowl has been on my to-knit list ever since it was published five years ago.

7. The fact that I’m knitting patterns that have been on my list for five years means I’m behind about that much in my knitting. I suddenly realize why I have so much yarn in my stash. My new goal is to be 10 years ahead.

8. I decided to knit it up using my Lotus Mimi Mink:

mink yarn Lotus Mimi Mink Yarn

8. I purchased this lovely yarn last year at Stitches Midwest: I can’t believe this year’s event is only six short weeks away.

9. I’ve doubled the size of the cowl because I have head dysmorphia disorder; I’m still nervous that the projected 42″ circumference won’t be large enough to fit around my gigantic skull.

10. I may indulge in a lace design class entitled ‘Lace Unlocked’ led by fellow Second City dweller Franklin Habit. It’s scheduled to take place at Stitches Sunday and Monday and looks fabulous. I hope to see at least one of you there with me!

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 Newest Toy

Last August, after spending six months learning the the basic mechanics of spinning wool into yarn on a used Louet S15, I parted ways with the wheel wanting an upgrade into something with more features and range. I sold the Louet hoping it would serve as a good beginner wheel to introduce someone else to the fabulous art of spinning and patiently waited for the timing (and the money) to be right in order to invest in my dream wheel.

I’ve spent the last 10 months rolling around in the 15 or so pounds of roving I’m storing in my closet, sniffing the fibers as I lamented my decision to sell my spinning wheel before purchasing a replacement. Sometime during Chiberia, I was researching spinning wheels fanatically; it actually became so severe I started instinctively minimizing my browser window with the shame of an inquisitive sixteen year old boy – it started to feel dirty and, well, shameful.

By the time the Spring rolled around I become manic. I started looking for things around the house to pawn in an effort to close the time gap faster. It seemed as though financial emergencies kept coming up every time I was close to taking the leap, forcing me to break into my spinning wheel piggy bank. I started to get furious at pesky little monthly bills like rent and groceries – I even contemplated sustaining my household on Ramen noodles, practicing my sales pitch about how “versatile” they were. I even told myself I would probably lose 10 pounds (I’m starting to think it’s not a coincidence that I looked the best in college when I lived on the stuff), and how would that ever a bad thing? Then I could write the “Ramen Noodle Diet” cookbook and buy as many spinning wheels as I wanted with the royalties.

Well, to the collective sigh of relief of the world, I didn’t have to resort to such measures. Apparently Mr. Joseph had felt really bad I hadn’t received the wheel for Christmas last year and decided to make it up to me for my birthday. I have no idea how he managed to hide the mammoth box it was shipped in, but when I came home a couple of weeks ago from work, this beauty was waiting for me:

kromski symphony spinning wheel kromski symphony spinning wheel kromski symphony spinning wheel kromski symphony spinning wheel kromski symphony spinning wheel kromski symphony spinning wheel

My reaction? I screamed, I cried, I laughed all while exclaiming “NO F*@)!*&^ WAY!”. Sorry kids.

Invoking the age-old prerogative of “it’s my birthday”, I grabbed the closest pound of roving I could find (it happened to be some gray merino – jackpot!), oiled up, and starting going to town.

This. Spinning. Wheel. Is. My. Fiber. Wet. Dream. (Sorry again, kids).

On a Monday night, when this crazy knitting cat lady gay man is usually in bed by 11 PM in order to be presentable for work the next morning, I was up until almost 3 AM tinkering away on my new toy.

After gaining some familiarity with the wheel, I was really cranking and finally seemed to hit the space of spinning nirvana everyone always talks about; I haven’t been this enchanted into relaxation in a long time. Apparently, I’ve gained a tolerance to my drug of choice – knitting – and spinning seems to be a great replacement for some zen stress reducing.

Here’s a close up of some of my progress:IMG_7865 kromski symphony spinning wheel

Ah. Singles.

Mr. Joseph also purchased all of the available accessories, including the jumbo flyer kit, which makes me especially excited to ply these bad boys when I’m done!

This yarn, along with the rest of the naturally colored roving I’ll be spinning for the foreseeable future, is earmarked for a queen-sized blanket I’ll be making for the bed. Yes, it’s a lot of yarn. Yes, it’s a lot of knitting. Yes, it’ll be freakin’ – oh what the heck – f@*!(&% fantastic.

I know most of you will think I’m foolish for using the wheel in its unfinished state, and yes, I am. The treadles are getting a little dirty¬† so I’ll have to complete that step soon. The past few days have been spent figuring out exactly how to treat, stain, or paint the wheel. I finally decided on using some Dutch oil for a deep, matte look.

kromski symphony spinning wheel

This is the finished look after about four coats, and I’m in love. I’ll finish it with some honey wax to seal the wood and offer some protection (and it smells like heaven).

In other knitting news, the Inside Out Baby Blanket for Mylah has been completed and is ready for its bath – after I weave in all the ends. I’d start talking about how casting off is such a false sense of completion, but we all hate finishing – at least that’s what I tell myself – so I’ll avoid a rant and just sign off here.

 

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.