Hanging in There

I am the type of person that needs to have a physical day planner to survive life.  Not only do I need a physical book to log and look at, everything within it is color-coded, so that at a glance, I know exactly what is happening and what the priority is.  Blue is for school, green is for work, yellow is for due-dates, purple is for pay days, and pink is for extracurricular.  My book is mostly blue, followed closely by green.  And pink and purple feel almost non existent, while the yellow is always surprising (my rent is due today? what?)


I’m not complaining though, because seeing all that blue means most of my time is spent hanging around – quite literally.  Out of curiosity, I counted how many weeks we have left in the program – this epic 9 month adventure we undertook.  The quickly dwindling number was bittersweet.  Nine months is not a long time at all, yet the days have all blurred into one and I feel like I have been here for ages, so having a blank schedule again sounds rather appealing.  On the other hand, aerial dance gives me so much inspiration and appreciation, I cannot imagine doing anything else.  The completion of this program results in our mama bird coaches pushes us out of the nest and telling us to fly with our own two wings, yet I still feel like a baby aerialist.  I have started putting together my promo material, updating my CV, and tentatively stretching and spreading my baby bird wings in hopes of landing a summer contract.


While I am currently in the process of creating work (a chains routine and a static trapeze routine), I feel like I spend a lot of my time actually doing this – hanging off of my equipment comfortably as I socialize and contemplate what I’m doing.  I filmed one of my practices a week or so ago, and laughed myself silly at how I spent more time casually sitting on the bar than doing the conditioning I had come for, as well as how much more comfortable I am hanging out up there than on the ground.


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.


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.

What Does an Aerialist Knit?

Circus is pain.  There really is no way around that.  It hurts.  As an aerialist, when I watch other aerialists perform and I see them do certain tricks, I visibly and uncontrollably cringe, knowing how painful it is.  The first time I saw Cirque du Soleil live, I watched the cord lisse artist do something that I absolutely hate doing, and then she took another step toward masochism, and I received an annoyed look from the audience members in my vicinity as I shuddered and said “No! How can you stand the pain??”  (Not loud enough to disturb the show, just loud enough for anyone within a 3 seat radius could hear my commentary).

So – it hurts.  I am constantly covered in bruises and burns, many of which I don’t remember acquiring – which goes to show how desensitized to physical pain I have become.  This is the norm.  I frequently have people give me weird looks, like I’m either into something more kinky than they can imagine and don’t really want to, or I’m the victim of abuse.  Yes, if you consider my significant other a static trapeze, that alternately tries to concuss me and suspend me in ropes, then both assumptions are accurate.

Some apparatuses are more painful than others.  For instance, cord lisse and I do not have a good relationship.  Every time I climb the thing, I return to the ground covered in bruises, and I’m not about to attempt that climb where the rope gets wedged between the toes.  Nope.  Not my style.  The lyra and trapeze are also painful – you are pushing your body into steel most of the time, with fabric being one of the more comfortable apparatuses, albeit the easiest to burn yourself if you aren’t careful.

But what does this have to do with knitting?

I’m giving you a little background into my motivation for circus inspired knitwear, specifically for something that I cast on Monday night and hope to have completed by noon this coming Sunday (such lofty goals I have).

Monday afternoon, I was at open gym, following a Sunday afternoon static trapeze class.  A classmate and I decided to – how do you say it – accustom ourselves to certain positions on the trapeze.  This type of masochism is best described using a phrase a lyra instructor gave me – burning the pain away.  You put yourself in the most painful positions you know of, and hold them for as long as possible in order to consciously desensitize parts of your body so you can do those maneuvers gracefully in a performance.  Circus is pain, right?

So this classmate and I decided to hold our ankle hangs as long as possible so it stops hurting so much.  We took turns hanging by our ankles in minute long segments, cheering each other on and pushing each other to that minute mark each time.  She had ankle guards on, and I was barefoot.  I made it 1 minute and 40 seconds before I couldn’t handle the burn anymore.  My ankles are still a bit red and raw from the attempt, and wearing shoes the next day was excruciating.  There are these things called trapeze boots that a lot of trapeze and lyra artists wear to protect their ankles and feet, particularly for things that ankle hangs.  I’ve always felt like it’s cheating, but have started to realize that I don’t always have to muscle my way through things.  My technique shouldn’t be solely about strength, but also about efficiency, and I can continue to “burn the pain away,” and I can also work on fluidity of motion.

So, what does an aerialist knit?  Not having a lot of money right now, but more yarn than I really know what to do with at my disposal, I am attempting to knit a pair of trapeze boots (normally made from leather), in hopes of protecting my ankles next Sunday, in which class we learn none other than drops to ankle hang.



I’ll let you know on Monday if my attempt works – am I hobbling or will I have a new pattern to reveal?


There was a really wonderful moment on the trapeze today.  I could have sworn we took a picture.  I know that we did, because I looked at it and said “I suppose that works.”  But it has disappeared.


So instead I give you the quiet room, and the now still trapeze on which many girls today were fearless.  I will let you imagine any one of them shining.


One of the things I love most about teaching is witnessing my students becoming fearless. They are all amazing.



Dear Trapeze, I think I love you.



I’m back to teaching aerial on the weekends again.  Last Spring, I posted a picture of something we did in class so you could enjoy the experience virtually.  This time around, it’s a bit more difficult.  I’m in the studio for 6 hours every day, and by the end I’m tired and can only think of getting home.  I have a hungry and tired youngling to drag home, feed and bath before bedtime, and I end up massaging my muscles and zoning out on the couch before finally stumbling into my own comfy bed.


This past weekend, I did remember to take a picture for you, but forgot to post yesterday.  So, here it is.  This is a double straddle that I taught my daughter yesterday.  She’s very brave, and remarkably compliant to my strange requests (“Ellette, I need you to stand on my shoulders and untie this” or “Hey Ellette, let’s learn a new doubles trick in the air”).  I am excited to see where she will end up with all of this training.

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