Freebird

I am sitting here at my desk, completely wired on happy. Perhaps you would like to hear why? (Unless you are my secret archnemesis, in which case you probably want to hear no such thing. Secret archnemesis, why do you hate me so?)

See? I’m giddy. Giddy because I have just spent the first two weeks in my new life. My new life that I chose for myself. My new life that it took me six years to convince myself to commit to. My new life that seemed like a crazy pipe dream and now it’s real and it’s going really well.

After six years of graduate school and 13 years as a college professor, I have officially resigned from academia and have begun a full-time career as a knitting designer, teacher, and writer.

Loyal readers of this blog are thinking, weren’t you going to do this about six months ago? Yes, yes, I was, but then a colleague convinced me to job-share with her for a while, and you know what? As kind as it was for my institution to let me have some job security while I figured things out, neither teaching nor scholarship are jobs you can do well when your mind is more than half somewhere else.

So, I resigned a couple of weeks ago. Since I’ve been preparing for — and having near-anxiety attacks about — this moment for years now, imagine my delight to find that IT’S GOING REALLY WELL.

Fear #1: I won’t be able to make even a meager living as a knitter. What am I, 22 years old with this “I’m going to be an artist” crap?

This is a legitimate concern, and I have had my earful of knitwear designers telling me you can’t make a living at design. They’re no doubt right. So I’m not trying to make a living at that — at least, not exclusively.

I’m also teaching, and not just at my LYS, but also looking at nursing homes, play groups, knitting conventions, and fiber festivals. Teaching pays better, and I’ve always loved it.

And I’m doing some interior design work, making one-of-a-kind fiber pieces for an architecture firm.

And most recently two of my favorite people in craft, Shannon Okey and Heather Ordover, asked me to help out their creative ventures on a freelance basis.

And I might apply for a grant. And it’s… just all coming together. All coming together after six years of planning and fretting and planning and back-filling with contingency plans and sweating creative sweat out of sheer panic.

But still.

Fear #2: After nearly two decades in academia, how can I be intellectually challenged enough by knitting?

This is more my friends’ fear than mine, but it’s worth talking through. I’ll be the first to admit that working with one’s hands requires a different kind of mental challenge than teaching about, say, postmodern historiography.

But just because those mental challenges are qualitatively different does not mean that they are quantitatively different. Let me tell you, my head was completely exhausted after trying to figure out how to construct this damned macramé light fixture last week.

This is engineering I’m doing. And algebra. And art. It is stimulating and variable and alive, and I cannot imagine tiring of it.

Fear #3: I will become a crazy person working at home.

Now, this one the jury’s still out on. It’s been only two weeks and already the cat is being subjected to this kind of monologue during the day:

“OK, I came in the kitchen for… what? Oh, that’s right, the dye pot. I have left the motherf&*^in’ heat on under the dye pot again. Criminately, I’m going to burn the house down if I’m not careful…. Ooh, cheese sticks!”

And so on. Yeah, clearly I’m going to need to schedule some OUTINGS. I promise I will wash my hair beforehand.