“En Tandem; At Last.”
The influence for Hunter’s love of textiles and knitting comes from his grandmother, Nita.
Growing up in Portugal shortly after World War II, Nita left school after finishing the sixth grade in order to help support her mother, father, and six siblings. She learned how to knit and sew at the age of four, so she began using her skills to earn a living by hemming dresses and knitting socks for the people who lived in the village.
Fifteen years later, Nita found herself in America with her husband, raising their three daughters. She saved money by sewing them bell-bottom jeans with matching halter tops, and when the girls were in high school, the family had enough money for Nita to start a bridal shop.
It was here in his grandmother’s bridal shop where Hunter was first introduced to creating with his hands. He had two main jobs in the shop after school: making satin buttons for the bridal gown enclosures and dying shoes to match bridesmaid gowns.
Every Friday night through college, Hunter spent his time keeping his grandmother company. As he navigated his way through his professional dance training, she supported him by knitting leg warmers and hooded pullovers he could throw on after practice, effectively shielding his muscles from the New England winter chill.
In 2007 Hunter earned his ballroom certifications and began competing on the United States professional circuit. While excited to be pursuing his dream, there was only one problem: it was impossible to drive to every competition, and Hunter had to overcome his largest fear – flying.
Unable to compete effectively after engaging in the usual methods he had employed in the past (a combination of alcohol, sleeping pills, meditation), he returned home from his third competition of the season and begged his grandmother to show him how to knit.
Nita promptly retrieved a ball a yarn and a pair of needles from her sewing room, strung the yarn around her neck, and began teaching Hunter how to cast on.
Hunter boarded his next flight confident he was going to be able to comfortably conquer his fear; he was right. Knitting was the perfect immersive distraction he needed in order to forget he was inside of a metal tube traveling hundreds of miles an hour, 40,000 feet above the Earth.
Hunter knitted on and off for years if he had free time. When he had to leave ballroom dancing due to an injury, he used it as his primary coping mechanism. It eventually became a complete replacement for dancing in terms of channeling his creative energy.
Now, Hunter combines his love of knitting with his passion for writing and photographer in his blog, Tandem Knits.
“Tandem,” Hunter says, ” or ‘En Tandem’ means ‘At Last’ in Latin. It’s an important phrase for me – at last I’ve find the yarn, the perfect pattern, or some time to f@*!’g knit! Being en tandem is the feeling you get when your soul feels satiated because you’re expressing yourself in a positive way. It’s when you’re doing your creative muse proud.”
Hunter even has the phrase tattooed on his wrist, just to make sure the knitting muses keep coming back to visit and inspire him as he takes his passion to the next level – designing.
Hunter’s first collection of knitting patterns is due to be released in the late Fall of 2015.