Sunday, 31 March 2019

Weeknote: 31/3

Knitting:
I've been furiously working on Mother Hand's cardigan. Last weekend I bit the bullet and cut the steek; this week I have finished the second sleeve and picked up and knitted the button band. The knitting part is finished now (in the nick of time, though not in time to send it for Mother's Day) - I just need to weave in ends, block and add buttons. And figure out what to do with my steek edges. In spite of my efforts at crochet, it has not held on the colourwork sections. Weirdly, it's fine where it's just plain knitting, but the ends on the colourwork sections began escaping almost immediately and caused me some issues when I was knitting the button band. In some cases I've pulled all the ends together in two bunches and felted them together with my fingers, but I don't really want to do that with all of them, because it some cases the ends are just about holding. I think I'm going to need to work out a way of sewing the ends over without it showing on the other side. Headache.

BUT. At least I have attempted a steek and the v neck came out fine.

Going to:
Not really anywhere this week, but last weekend I went to Sheffield to catch up with Jen and speak at a conference. Jen is moving to Edinburgh very soon so it's probably the last time I'll see her in Sheffield. We went to a Take That tribute with a three course meal. It was...an experience. They weren't very good as Take That but it was a fun night. There was plenty of this.


The conference went well. I spoke on the topic of ethnic diversity, which made me very nervous (a lot of people have Opinions) and I was also quite freaked out by the number of people who seemed very excited to meet me. The words 'idol' and 'fangirling' were thrown around. I was uncomfortable. I literally just turn up, teach and sometimes write/speak about it - I've just been doing it for a long time. But it was really nice that people were so friendly and my talk went down really well, so that was good. I got a lot of love online and almost no criticism so I am going to chalk that up as a success.

Last week I went to a lecture and out to dinner with my friend Vanessa, who I work for at the exam board. Always an interesting evening. She's one of those people that makes me think really hard about things. This weekend we've had a two-day exam board meeting online. There are definite negatives to doing it this way but the positives are that I got a lie in on Friday and I got loads of chores done - washing, bed stripping, shopping, grass mown, hallway tidied and hoovered, kitchen clean. Just think how nice it would be if I worked from home all the time.

Entertained by:
I've finally watched Fleabag, at least the first series. Since I loved Killing Eve so much and it was written by Phoebe Waller-Bridger (Bridger-Waller?) I thought I should watch the series she wrote from scratch. It is very, very funny, whilst at the same time being quite tragic. Her relationship with her stepmother reminds me of my relationship with Father Hand's second wife, who never forgave me for running up a gigantic phone bill when I stayed at her house.

Not much reading has been happening. I've been too busy with the knitting.

Baking:
Elaine, a colleague at work, has decided to go vegan for the good of the planet, so I made an effort to provide a vegan cake last week.


I used this recipe, purportedly the best vegan chocolate cake recipe. It was very good. You wouldn't have guessed it was vegan. I used Trex instead of butter but I also bought some Stork, which I will try next time. The buttercream was missing something but now I think about it, I wonder if that might have been a little salt - I usually use some salted butter in buttercream, alongside unsalted, usually because it's what I've got most of hanging around. It looks lumpy in the picture but that's because I spread raspberry jam in the middle and mixed some more into the buttercream. Elaine likes raspberries and my attempt at quick homemade cheery jam ended up a smoky mess on the stove when I got distracted by an email.

Next I'm planning to try an Earl Grey and lemon vegan cake. I'm keen to try something using chick pea juice.

Feeling:
Pretty good, considering I'm staring down my 13th work week in a row. I've got some amazing things coming up at Easter - next weekend I'll be in London on a teacher fellowship and the weekend after I'll be in Alabama on a free review trip. I can't believe my luck. Then it's only five short weeks until half term, with two of those being four-day weeks, and then it's basically the summer holidays. Right? Just that pesky little exam marking job in between. Lordy. I hope it is a bit easier this summer. The portents are positive.

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.