NaKniSweMo Day 22: Blocking and Bleeding

My back has been hurting for a couple weeks now, and the pain has only been getting worse.  At first, it was fairly manageable and easy to dismiss.  I’m always sore – this program is hard.  Over the last few days, it felt like something was sliding around a bit, and the pain became sharper.  I needed to slow down.  I’ve been pushing myself so hard, hell bent on taking advantage of every opportunity presented to me so that when I launch my career at the end of this program, I will have more knowledge and technique to pull from and a better foundation to build my acts.  The downside is that I haven’t left time for rest.  Friday I decided to sit out and observe class rather than participate physically.  And today, instead of going to the workshop I had signed up for, I stayed home (and had quality time with Ellette, which is fantastic), and I blocked my NaKniSweMo sweater.

 

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In total, 57342 stitches were knit.  I tried it on before throwing it in the water, and it fit just about the way I had intended, and I hoped the bath would help ease the areas that needed to be stretched.  When I pulled it out of the water, the body of the sweater started expanding.  I squished the water from it and held it to my torso briefly – I had somehow made a dress.

And then I noticed the sleeve.

I knew I was taking a chance by knitting a white sleeve, but I didn’t really consider it to be a problem.  I had worked with all of these yarns before.  But this time, the hot water and the purple decided to have a quarrel in the tub, and the purple bled onto the sleeve.  I tried to rinse it out with cold water, but it just wouldn’t work.  I’ll try another quick rinse when it’s dry, but fear my sweater may bear the curse of Sweaty Smurf in the underarm.

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While the sweater is drying rather conspicuously in my bedroom, and I am trying not to pay attention to the imperfections, I have picked up the sock hat I am making for a good friend of mine.

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It currently measures 52 inches in length, and when it is complete will be about 6.5 or 7 feet.  It’s a simple little pattern and uses up a lot of my odds and ends.  It’s the perfect mindless project right now.

Determination: A Definition

Can’t

That’s not a word I use often, unless it’s in a phrase such as “I can’t resist this temptation.”

It is easy to give up, or refuse to try, using the blanket excuse “Can’t”.  It’s a giant stop sign over your life, and most commonly it is used for little things like “I can’t afford to take this class” or “I can’t do a pull up.”  Yet stories of sheer will overcoming obstacles are numerous – people who are told  they may never walk again that grit their teeth and say “Oh, yes I will” – and do it.  One of the girls in the training program with me literally broke her back and was told she would never dance again, yet her determination to prove them wrong not only turned her into a professional belly dancer, it has gotten her into an intensive training program.

I have had many things happen in my life where the word “can’t” was used by many people in my situation.  I come from a kind of messed up and dysfunctional home life (although we try to forget that that’s what it was like) – my parents split up when I was a toddler, both struggling with personal demons, I had experienced the pains of growing up between two households below the poverty line.  As a child, I dreamed of taking ballet classes, but we couldn’t afford them, and we tried every avenue we could think of.  I have 5 siblings, and some dreams had to be put aside to make ends meet.  (As I got older, I started finding ways to do what I wanted, working as much as possible to fund my school trip to NYC on my own, for instance).  When I was 16, I became a teen mom.  I was told by many people in my life – even the social worker – that I would have to drop out of high school.  Instead, I gathered up my paperwork and went to my school office and asked “How do I graduate?”  Not only did I graduate, but we found a way for me to do so at the end of my junior year.

And, instead of thinking I was done with my education because I was a single teen mom, I was determined to go to college.  I found scholarships and loans that would cover most of my tuition, one of which provided a life coach to help get me through and on to the next chapter of my life.  I received my degree with only a small amount of student debt.

None of this was easy.  There were times when I would sit in my room and cry hopelessly because the challenges I faced seemed insurmountable.  I remember sitting down with a friend and having a rather frank discussion about how I didn’t think I could be a parent, and how I was thinking I should have put my child up for adoption.  There were many points where the thought “I can’t do this anymore” crossed my mind, and I swiftly pushed it out.  In my teen years, I didn’t think I had a choice.  It felt very much like something I simply had to do.  I think a great deal of that push came from societal values of going to school and getting a well paying career.  Emphasis was on education and not on happiness.  I do not regret my decision to go to college at all.  I met so many people through my years in school that I am very close friends with today and people who helped shape my career as it is now.  If it hadn’t been for university, I wouldn’t have met the juggling club where my circus path started, and I wouldn’t be on this great adventure right now.  But I have learned that years of unhappiness doing what I thought I had to for stability and an uncertain future wasn’t worth it.  Three months into living in Boulder, working my little tail off to pay my bills, and spending every other moment enveloped in the circus world here has made me incomparably happy.  I look forward to every day, as hard as I know it’s going to be.

This is where I could use some help though.  Tuition for this Aerial Dance Professional Training Program isn’t cheap, and I’m supporting myself and a child through it.  I’ve set up a GoFundMe campaign to help cover tuition and equipment costs.  I can do this, there’s no doubt for me.  But having some of the costs covered through this campaign will allow me to focus on training, act development, and necessary rest.  Consider this – a $5 donation covers one of my drop in classes.  $60 covers a private lesson.  Can you help?

http://www.gofundme.com/AnnasAerialDance

 

I am determined to see my dreams to the end.

And I challenge you: remove the word “can’t” from your vocabulary, and surprise yourself with how much you actually can do.  Start small – don’t try to climb a mountain if you’ve never walked a mile before.  Find tasks that challenge at the appropriate level, and don’t be afraid of falling.  Sometimes, you grow wings and fly.

NaKniSweMo Day 18

Day 18 dawns, and I’m inching along on my remaining sleeve.  The first sleeve was completed at a Sunday rehearsal, where I spent half the time sitting on the sidelines knitting away in circles.  I tried it on just before starting the cuff, and the sleeve is a couple inches longer than I want, but not so long  as to be annoying, so I left it.  I don’t have the energy to take steps backward anymore.  By the end of the day, I was casting off and beginning the next sleeve.

I’m so close to being done!  The only problem I face is that my schedule has just exploded.  I picked up seasonal work, intending to keep the two jobs I currently have, so that I can cover tuition and rent more reliably.  The financial stress I was facing has been replaced by working 18 hour days.  I hope this is only temporary, but it’s hard to think too far into the future when all of your brain power is being spent just getting you to the end of the night.  Despite the exhaustion, I am still looking forward to the next day.  I can see myself improving, and that is enough to keep me going.

 

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Day 18: 51,518 stitches knit to date, 90% complete

12 days to go!

NaKniSweMo Day 12 (And Snow)

12 days in  and I’m making better progress than I imagined I imagined I would.  I’m almost done with the body of the sweater.  I’m facing a yarn shortage predicament and trying to figure out how to proceed.  While I’m stewing over that, I’ve started on a sleeve.  Stephen West designed this sweater to be a mishmash stash bust, and it has been for me, and I love how the colors are coming together.  I think colorwise, the sleeves represent the hardest decision.

The sweater currently stands at over 46,000 stitches, approximately 77% of the sweater being complete.  My estimation is that each sleeves is around six thousand stitches, so hitting the 50K mark should be a piece of cake.

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In the meantime, this is what Colorado looked like on Saturday:

 

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And this is what it looked like this morning:

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It’s sweater weather.  Brr.

Time – NaKniSweMo Day 5

Day 5 and I am over 20k stitches into this sweater.  I cannot get enough of it right now.  The colors are surprising me.  Initially, I was going to make the sweater more gray and red, with a pop of the baby blue, but when I realized that the red looked more pink next to the blue, the only thing I could think to do was bring the purple into it.  I’m considering adding a pop of lime green towards the bottom.

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In our improv class today, we discussed and played with the concept of time.  This is something we explored last week as well.  We were asked to bring in something that represented “time” for us, and for some reason, I was drawing a complete blank.  I ended up bringing a metronome, because working with a metronome, having the staccato indicate your movements and making you stop in strange places, has been inspiring for me.  It’s a challenge to do, but I think it helps broaden the movement quality and change the focus.

What didn’t occur to me was to include a swatch.  Now that I’m at the body of the sweater, and it’s round and round of plain stitches, I’m sucked into that black hole.  I just keep knitting, and it’s not getting longer.  I’m pouring so much time into it, and not seeing a result.   And the beauty of this, and why I think it is relevant to the aerial training, is that I keep going.  I do the same maneuvers over and over again and give all of my free time to it, stitch after stitch, plie after plie, climb after climb, and oftentimes it’s really hard to see any progress.  Sometimes, I even feel like I’m moving backwards.  And then, something changes, and suddenly I have a sweater, I have good form, I have a decent turnout and I’ve added repetitions to my pull-ups and leg lifts.  Somewhere in the sea of 50,000 knit stitches, I have created a sweater, and it took stacking the same movement on top of each other to get there, and that takes time – a fraction of a second to create that little movement all combined into a month of work, and I have created something beautiful.

This morning, I went into the studio with the intention of blasting my music and knocking out some trapeze conditioning.  I worked on my long beats, I worked on my drops, I worked on tricks and transitions that I felt I was fumbling through.  I pushed myself until my forearms were sore from gripping.  I didn’t try to create new and elaborate work, which is what I did Monday morning and the lack of inspiration and the resulting clunkiness were frustrating.  But, working on the repetition of what I know, and layering it all together, helped me feel more confident in what I do know.  Each time I touch a trapeze, even if I feel like an idiot just hanging in the air, I know that I’m stacking stitches and making a sweater.

NaKniSweMo Day 2 (And Other Things)

National Knit a Sweater Month began yesterday, and I did so much as to cast on and knit an inch before calling it a night.  A weird allergic reaction caused me to spend the evening in discomfort and day 2 dawned with me feeling worn and super sensitive to everything.  Today was my first day completely free of obligation – no work, no school, nothing.  I had wanted to spend it exploring, and instead spent it watching tv reruns and knitting.  I must admit though, it was relieving to not think of circus or dance for a little while.

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I ended up choosing Stephen West’s Enchanted Mesa design before of it’s stash busting qualities.  I had a selection of yarn selected for the pattern, and after the first short row section I nixed my original plans and grabbed different yarn from the stash.  This new option is much more colorful and fun to knit.

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Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll in Fedora, Cascade Sport in “849”, Malabrigo sock (from previous project, lost tag), Haute Knit Yarn, and Pingouin in “520”

Total Stitches: 12,876 (25% of total goal)

The Right Motivation

Week 7 started (I think it’s week 7, but time is kind of blurred because it’s going so fast).  Also, session 2 of the program, which means that some of our classes have changed.  Technique changed from slings to rope and harness, nutrition to kinesiology, pilates to modern dance, and contact improv to handstands.  I’m still putting in extra training, dealing with sore muscles and stiff joints, and wanting to cry at least once a day.  I never thought I would call my life ordinary, but what I’ve been working on has reached such a point of familiarity that I forget there are others who might be interested in hearing about it.

Recent highlights and realizations?  In no particular order:

* Last week, ballet did not bring me to tears.  This is a huge accomplishment.

* It has been amazingly easy for me to make friends – I can’t even tell you.  I am full of gratitude, love and awe for the people I’ve been meeting since arriving in Boulder.  I have honestly never felt this integrated in a community.  Not only integrated, but a part of the community that helps it thrive, and a part that is missed when it is absent.

* I know our final performance is still 7 months away, but I found my song.  It’s still a secret, but I’m excited about choreographing for it.  I’m stuck between static trapeze and chains for my showcase.

* I have to do an assignment involving “space” (i.e. spacial awareness, movement through a space, etc.) and I have no idea how to show my interpretation of space.

This will all be elaborated on later.

My desire to feel like I am good at something, to feel accomplished at something, created an interesting case of finishing-itis.  That is, taking all of my knitting projects and trying to finish them.  I have had no desire to start anything new, just wrap up what’s been left on the needles for who knows how long.  This is partly spurred by the desire for a clean and organized house (nevermind the fact that all that is happening is a project is getting moved out of one box and into another location – nothing is actually freeing up more space).

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So, since Friday, I have been adding the last little details, weaving in ends, and blocking projects.  Last night, I finished an afghan I’ve been working on for nearly two years, and I can’t tell you how proud it made me.  I had been gifted a lot of a mystery yarn by a friend, and had no idea what to do with it, and it slowly became a blanket.  A rather large blanket, that ate up some of my scraps as I went.  Ellette loves it and doesn’t want to snuggle with any other blanket.

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I also realized that I have given away most of my hats – so I need to cast on for one, but can’t decide which.  And, October is almost over, which means NaKniSweMo will be starting soon (National Knit a Sweater Month), and I want to participate but don’t know which sweater to chose.  I’m stuck between Enchanted Mesa and Belle.  Thoughts?

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