Sunday, 17 March 2019

Weeknote: 17/3

Knitting:
I have motored through the first sleeve on Mother Hand's cardigan. I'm just about the start the ribbing, so it will be finished today. I might then try to crochet the front edges ready for steeking, since I've got a long train journey next weekend and I think knitting the second sleeve will work better than crocheting steek edges.

Unfortunately, though, I'm currently playing a game of 'If you were my crochet hook, where would you be?' and the rest of today and tomorrow are all taken up with online meetings, so I will need to be doing something to it during this time. The second sleeve might appear quicker than the first.

My thoughts already turn to the next project. What should it be? I feel like I should knit up some of the 4-ply I bought for scarves at the previous Wonderwools. I'll have a month, though, between (hopefully) finishing this project and going to Wonderwool, which encompasses a school holiday, and I keep going back to Milou and also Thermal.

Going to:
I had a busy Tuesday. I went to a lecture on Tuesday, from a woman with a Jamaican dad and a Welsh mum, on the difficulties her dad had faced growing up in Jamaica and then coming to the UK. It was a really powerful bit of storytelling and has given me lots of ideas for how I can adjust my curriculum at school. Then I went on to the ballet with Parpy Jo. We saw Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. Jo was surprised to discover we were seeing Swan Lake, since we say the ENB's version in November, but being Matthew Bourne is was very different - male swans, lots of hissing. Near the end of act 1, a mouse ran up the steps next to me which was a bit distracting, but other than that, it was an excellent ballet.

The rest of the week has been quite quiet. Last weekend I got 10-year-drunk at Rachael's housewarming party so I deserved a quiet week.

Entertained by:
Everything is pretty awful at the moment, news wise and entertainment wise. The Michael Jackson revelations. The R Kelly series. Ed Stafford playing at being homeless and getting lied to by a bunch of crack addicts. Brexit. The voting and chaos at Parliament has been entertaining to a point but then I remember that we have to continue to live here. Our daydream move to the Pacific Northwest becomes more tempting by the day.

Mostly I've been entertaining myself by looking forward to nice things coming up. Sheffield next weekend, for possibly the last time since Jen is moving to Edinburgh. Three fun weekends away in April. Summer holidays and days out. Maybe a little ski trip with work friends at Christmas.

Feeling:
In general, frustrated at not getting enough work done but also not doing enough work. I think it's long-term tiredness from being away over half term. I'm hoping to really nail it this week coming. We'll see.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Current WIP

I'm annoyingly falling out of the habit of the weeknotes. I must remember to keep doing them.

However, it gives me an excuse to post this midweek, when I've finally cast off the body.


The brown looks darker than it is.

I'm pretty happy with it, though just concerned about sizing, in spite of plenty of reassurance. I'm OK at judging whether something is the right size for me but guessing what will fit Mother Hand is a different matter, and I didn't want to ask what her size was because it's a surprise. However, once steeked and blocked with a button band, I am 90% sure it will fit OK, and if not - wider button band.

Please note it's a v-neck. She isn't that narrow across the shoulders.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Weeknote: 2/3

Knitting:
I've continued to work on Mother Hand's cardigan. It's been going well this week, after I had most of a week off it while skiing. I optimistically took the smaller needles with me on the ski trip in the hopes that I might reach the ribbing, but added a sum total of two rows to it during the long hours on the ski trip bus. When will I learn? Considering I started knitting to entertain me on the ski bus, I don't do a good job of knitting on it these days.

Anyway. I've got about 40 rows of body left, then ribbing, then sleeves. Then the scary business of cutting the steek and adding the button bands. It would be great to finish this for Mother's Day but I am not sure. I've got a lot of things to do between now and then.

Going to:
I quite deliberately went to ground this week. After returning from the ski trip last Saturday I wanted to give myself a nice, relaxing week. I had a parents' evening on Thursday and then drinks out on Friday with a colleague who was visiting from Canada; a couple of quiet drinks turned into me tearing myself away at 8.30, just before I became drunk enough to stay out. I don't think that would have counted as a nice, relaxing (end to the) week.

Working on:
I've been busy trying to finish up some work projects this week so this has replaced the 'entertained by' because there hasn't been much of that. There's not much good on the TV and I've not found myself much able to settle to reading. I think this is because I can see the end of a couple of tasks and I'm really hoping that once they're done, there will be a break in things. I actually turned down a summer examiner job before half term....although I did apply for another, but it remains to be seen whether they will offer me a contract.

So, this week has mainly been spent finishing off the support worksheets for my usual publisher, which will be the last job I do for this commissioning editor before he retires. I also found out I got a place on a teaching fellowship I'd applied for next month, and that the free history teacher trip to the USA that was provisionally planned for the middle of the Easter break is definitely going ahead. Lots of fun things coming up!

Feeling:
Busy, but not as tired and over-worked as I'd feared I would after spending the whole half term on the ski trip. The weeks leading up to it were so desperately fraught I think it would be difficult for it to feel worse afterwards, tbf. Hence the lack of weeknotes, when I'd been doing so well! I'm trying to think what fun things I did in those missing weeks.

I went to London for an exam board writers' day that took place on the top floor of a building next to the Savoy - amazing views. I went out for dinner with friends Ali, Kath and Parpy Jo, where we consumed too much alcohol and managed to outlast several other parties of diners whilst laughing raucously and endlessly. I wedged in quite a lot of non-school work. And there was skiing, of course. Skiing was lots of fun with only a few issues, none of which involved hospital visits, thankfully, but in the week before I had to deal with no fewer than four students who looked like they would be dropping out; two actually did drop out (one medical, one just 'didn't feel like going'...), one dropped out but then came back in (parent claimed she'd never cancelled; I went to the gym and did ball slams until the people downstairs banged on the ceiling) and the fourth came along and had a whale of a time, but not without a lot of drama ahead of time. It was almost more trouble than it was worth. The snow was exceptionally good, though, so the skiing made up for the drama.

How is it March already, though? I need to work less and notice more.


Sunday, 3 February 2019

Snow Day FO


Pattern: Westbourne by Isabel Kramer.
Yarn: Fivemoons Sinful sock, which is a blend of superwash merino, goat mohair and nylon. It's got a bit of a halo. Plus a gradient kit from Moonlight Yarns.
Needle: 3mm and 3.5mm. I can't believe it has gone as quick as it has.
Mods: I increased to the next size up after the waist, obvs. I knitted the stripes three rows wide instead of two. I edged the bottom and the cuffs with four rows of garter stitch, instead of one purl and three knitted rounds.


I might yet pick up and stitch around the neck a few rounds, to pull it in slightly. It's very wide. I quite like it but I'm not sure if I will continue to feel this way.

It was a nice straightforward pattern and I am really pleased with how the colours come together. And just in case I forget - the Fivemoons label said handwash cold but I took a risk, since 80% of the yarn components were superwash, and put it in the machine on a cold wash wool cycle; it came out fine. Dried really quickly, too. All hail the 4-ply sweater. Maybe they are worth the effort after all (especially since this one was done in a little over a month).

Weeknote: 3/2

Knitting:
I doggedly finished with my last colour stripe on Monday, earlier than I had hoped, but it took me until Friday to finish off the grey and I'm still not certain the sleeves are long enough, though it's pretty much finished blocking so I will find out later today (before the FO post). Then I sewed in 100 ends. Well, I took a break in there too, to make a start on a colourwork cardigan for Mother Hand. I've just charted the colourwork across the raglan increases so I'm hoping to get onto that later today.

Going to:
On Tuesday I ran a history pub quiz with my friend Rich, at a nice little Bristol pub. It was a lot of fun but a very late night. Some of our questions were fiendish; I was quite proud. It was also nice to meet lots of people who I'd previously only communicated with on Twitter.

That was pretty much it for going out, though. Thursday was meant to be a parents evening but they cancelled it due to the snow forecast. It started snowing around 8pm, though Mr Z tried to conceal it from me for as long as possible so that it would be a lovely surprise. School closed on Friday. I went back to bed as soon as I'd had the call and slept until mid-morning, then spent the day doing all kinds of finishing off - jumpers, books, papers - which left me rested and clear-headed enough to tackle the marking mountain on Saturday. I've sat in Caffe Neros for a long time this weekend.

Baking:
I made a tunis cake, very late after Christmas, but I was in a terrible mood on Monday night and needed cheering up, so I baked. Yum. Half of it is still in the department office. I hope it has survived the weekend.

Entertained by:
It feels like there is a dearth of good entertainment on the TV, so I've been watching repeats of The Closer. I tried watching Reign but didn't make it past the first five minutes. I want to give Medici a go next. Mr Z and I watched They Shall Not Grow Old - very cleverly done. I finished reading a book, Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. It painted a very real picture of Hurricane Katrina.

Feeling:
A little out of sorts and a little ground down. The work list does not seem to be going down, even though I am working hard on it. Two weeks until skiing, though! That's exciting.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

January Goals Roundup

Since this is my goal-setting, I decided to extend January to the end of February 1st, since it was a snow day and therefore allowed me to make significant progress on my home goals.

Work
1. Finish the lesson planning job (eight to go. I should be doing that instead of this, you know...I'm two weeks past my deadline).
Yes! All done.

2. Write the worksheets to go with the lesson plans (around 60 in total. That is six per day).
No. A really big fat no. I didn't even do one. I really need to get started; my deadline was January 30th. Shame, shame etc

3. Write the exam papers - 1, 3 and 4.
I have written most of 1. In my defence, 3 and 4 are not due until the end of February.

4. Book all my meeting accommodations for the summer.
Done. This was a February 1st done, because they didn't contract me until February 1st, but I did it straight away. The choice of hotel was still very poor.

5. Apply for the fellowship I've had my eye on.
Done. A full day before the deadline. Then they extended the deadline...oh well.

6. School marking - sixth form mocks, 12H, 12P and 13H. 
I did 12P and 13H, and today (which I know is February 2nd) I managed half of 12H. I have to have the data in by Monday, so that really does force my hand somewhat.

Hmm, not bad, not bad.

Home
1. Get the floor man round to measure up the hall/stairs/landing for new flooring.
Done. Mr Z got him round on Wednesday night. I am awaiting the quote.

2. Choose new flooring and stair carpet.
Not done, but not my fault - I'm waiting for the quote before I decide what I want; and in any case, he said it would be best to get furniture built in before the floors are done so this may wait awhile. It doesn't get a colour. Null goal.

3. Put away the clothes I took on holiday.
Done.

4. Put away all the clothes over the banister.
Done. The wardrobe and drawers are groaning. I need to KonMarie my clothes.

5. Finish knitting Westbourne.
Done! A February 1st finish, but done nonetheless.

6. Wash the kitchen floor.
Not done. I decided against it, as I was so busy and anyway, it just gets dirty again.

7. Finish reading a book. I have about three that I'm halfway through - any one of those would be fine.
Done. Another February 1st finish, but I completed Salvage the Bones, a novel set around Hurricane Katrina, which was one of my gift books from the Mr B's fundraiser. It took me a while to get into it but then I found it compelling.

8. Do two exercise sessions apart from seeing Jenny.
I did one. I ran out of month to do a second.

Not too bad at all, overall. I only had 12 days but I managed more than half of what I wanted to achieve. I had the list written on my office whiteboard too, which made it very motivational. It's time for a new list.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Weeknote: 27/1

Knitting:
I am extremely proud to say that I almost stuck to my goal. I didn't manage a stripe on Monday or Friday nights, when I was out late, but I did manage one on the other three days and yesterday I managed another five (basically had RSI by the end of the day); I've knitted one row of colour 14 today and hopefully I'll get to colour 15 tomorrow. I am not convinced I'm going to finish by the end of January but it will be close. I am considering extending my January goals deadline to February 3rd, as the inclusion of an additional weekend will make all the difference.

My thoughts turn to my next jumper. I'm considering knitting Mother Hand a cardigan with a Scandi-noir pattern, a la The Killing, to celebrate our summer holiday to Denmark. I was thinking about making another shapely boyfriend cardigan but steeking it this time. I've got all the yarn I need. It would be a good bus knit for skiing. The difficulty will be deciding on a size - I want it to be a surprise so I don't want to ask. Since she's a similar body shape to me, albeit it much slimmer, I might start with a 38 but increase to a 42, as I do with things I knit for me. Or I might go a size up from that, because it doesn't matter too much if cardigans are over-sized, does it?

Going to:
On Monday we had our usual history teacher geek-out night that happened every January. It was fun to chat teaching ideas with colleagues, as always.

On Friday I went for a drink with friend Charlotte, of notable drunkenness in December, and then on to dinner and drinks with Naomi, Rachael and Susanna from work. We tried to eat Caribbean food but, it turns out, everybody wants to eat dinner at 6.30 on Stokes Croft, so we ended up eating Vietnamese food instead. No regrets here, it was delicious. Then we went to Hotel du Vin for some cocktails. Rachael decided she wanted cigarettes but did not want to walk to the shop, so bought herself a £19 cigar (except it was charged to my tab, thanks Rach) and we attempted to assist her in smoking it. I left feeling like someone had trodden on my chest.

Entertained by:
I've been on tenterhooks all week, waiting to see what HMRC would allow me to keep from my pay cheque, so that has been entertaining. Thankfully it was more than I'd dared to hope.

Yesterday I had a complete day of relaxation and hit Netflix hard. I watched La La Land - I didn't love it. I am a big Emma Stone fan but it just felt like an excuse to relive old Hollywood cliches - a bit self-indulgent, if you ask me, which nobody did, but it's my blog.

After that I watched Sex Education. I'm proud to say I watched the entire series in one day. I found it extremely entertaining - I loved all of it. It did give me a big of cognitive dissonance. For a start, it's got a kicking 80s soundtrack, 80s cars, 80s clothes - but it's set in the present day. Then, it was clearly written about an American town and high school: all the classic high school cliches were there, from tannoy announcements to letterman sweaters - but all the actors were British and it was clearly set in Britain. It became quite clear in episode 2 that some of the themes would not have been possible to tackle in an American high school setting, however. I wondered if it had been written for an American setting and then, at the last minute, Netflix decided it would be banned in certain states if they kept that so they just cast all British actors in it, but they're already built all the sets and started work on the costumes, so they kept it all (even the Americanesque dialogue).

When I woke up this morning and continued meditating on it (I don't know why, either) I decided it was probably a deliberate decision to make it relevant to American high school students without drawing the wrath of their parents. 'Look! This setting is just like yours! These students are, by the same token, just like you! All that stuff you're worrying about is OK!'

I decided the 80s theme was just for fun, because who doesn't love the 80s?

Anyway. Do watch it. It is hugely fun and the characters are all fabulous, particularly the outrageously cool Gillian Anderson, to whom I obvs relate to most as she is the main adult character. It's all set up for a second season, too.


My personal trainer, Jenny, tells me off quite often for overthinking things. I can't think where she gets this impression from.

Feeling:
Determined and accomplished. Not many things have been ticked off the goals list yet but many of them are in progress. I've been doing ski trip planning and other school trip planning and generally Doing The Work. There needs to be more of that this week, but I am still feeling full of beans. The whole day sitting on the sofa knitting and watching TV helped, I think.