Sunday, 20 October 2019

Sunday selfie

This time next Sunday I'll be on half term, finally finally.

More time to spend with this snugger.

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

Really very hard to choose last night. There were so many I loved. Will and Janette's contemporary had me bawling, which I can only attribute to being over-tired because I don't normally find it so emotional.

In the end I have narrowed it to two - Karim and Amy's salsa, which was madly frenetic and I was left impressed at the adjustments: I don't think I've ever seen sparkly trainers in the salsa before but this is presumably a height issue. The end lift is so quick I had to rewind to work out what had happened. And his energy! Jealous.

Also Alex and Neil's Charleston was really entertaining.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Strictly: My Dance of the Night last week

Catching up. Last week I liked David's quickstep a lot. I am a sucker for a quickstep and I loved this one because he finally looks like he's starting to relax and enjoy it a bit. It suited his height.

Honourable mention for Kelvin and Oti's rumba. I don't love a rumba but it wasn't at all awkward to watch. He really is very good.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Weekend WIP

The progress on the crochet is both quicker (because I'm getting better at it) and slower (because the rounds are getting bigger). It looks decidedly Christmassy at the moment because of the red and white, but close stalkers will be aware that my future niece is half Peruvian and will undoubtedly want to fly the flag of her mother's country at all opportunities.

Please excuse my lazy, unedited photograph but it was this or nothing.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Sunday Selfie

I've spent the weekend on a DofE expedition. This was taken at the end of today. I was voluntarily in this position.

Some wisdom:
1. 3am is not a good time to discover your tent isn't waterproof.
2. Distant, unlocateable raves in the Mendips go on until 8am.
3. If your group says they don't know how to use a compass, save everyone a lot of hassle and fail them before they even start.
4. Take walking shoes even if you're adamant you won't be walking with them.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Three on Thursday

(I know it's not Thursday, sshhh...I didn't finish it in time)

Three podcasts I can recommend

1. The Joe Rogan podcast - not that he needs any more subscribers. Many of his episodes are interviews with MMA fighters so you'd be forgiven for scrolling right past, but he has interviewed some really interesting people. I particularly liked Megan Phelps-Roper, Bernie Sanders and Louis Theroux. Also I now follow him (and his dog) on Instagram and he seems really grounded and sensible.

2. The 30 for 30 podcast series on Bikram - much as I love the yoga, this was eye-opening. Well-researched and quite fascinating insight into the bikram community - but also quite an interesting look at how people manage to build myths about themselves in order to become wildly successful. A blueprint, if you will.

3. The Mary Portas Work Like a Woman podcast - I have been a fan of Mary Portas for a long time and I can just eat up any content she cares to put out, but this series is also an interesting insight into working practices and comes with advice for improving things at work and elsewhere in life. I'd love to pick up the book, but the number of unread books I've got just makes me sad so I have resisted thus far.

Hopefully something new for you to listen to there. I'm also open to recommendations!

Monday, 7 October 2019

Blue Monday

Something from Durdle Door last week.

Every time I see this place, I'm astonished it exists in this country.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Sunday Selfie

Featuring Mother Hand this week, because I found a lot of selfies featuring us together from this year, from our various adventures together.

This is from Whitchurch Silk Mill, which we visited in May during a minibreak to do a tour of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery. Really pretty location and lots of ducks.

And this is from the palace gardens in Copenhagen, in the summer.

Weekend WIP

The crochet blanket is beginning to grow.

I'm still struggling with the tensioning and I don't love how it looks, yet, but I am definitely getting the hang of it and splitting the yarn less, which is good because at one point this week I literally screamed at it in frustration. I think I'm on round 6; I'm intending to do 8 of red, 8 of white, 8 of red, or until the red runs out, whichever is sooner. Theoretically, there is about half a ball each of red and white leftover from when I made the Barber Pole top, but it's not in the Smoothie bag so I am going to have to declare it lost.

I think, as it grows, it will look neater. Hopefully.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

Weeknote: 5/10

There hasn't been any knitting this week. There has only been the dark and foul art of crochet. I've made a start on a baby blanket for my incoming niece; I found a tutorial to help me get started and I am not getting into the rhythm of the thing, although I had to pull out about a third of what I accomplished at knitting group today because I can't really see what direction I'm supposed to be working in or where the rows fall. The Smoothie is splitty. I can't hold tension. But - I will persevere.

Going to:
On Monday we had the first of our annual nerdy history teacher meet ups, which ended with a long chat with Lizzy and a sushi take away. Yum.

On Wednesday I went on my first ever Geography field trip as an adult! We went to Swanage and Lulworth Cove, the latter of which I'd been to with a Geology field trip back when I was studying Geology #atmylastschool. We had absolutely stunning weather for the whole day, which happened to be the only day of the week where it didn't pour with rain. WINNING.

On Friday I hung out with my friends Ghaz and Kath, neither of whom I have seen for quite some time. We ate Chinese, learned about VSCO girls and watched Jimmy Kimmel celebrity mad libs. We know how to rock a Friday night.

Entertained by:
Bizarrely, I picked up Malory Towers this week at school and started reading. My brain is feel a little squeezed and it was about all I could manage.

Today I made some Levain-style chocolate chip cookies. I don't know who or what Levain is, but a friend posted pictures of some she'd made a few weeks ago and so I had to copy. Here is the original recipe I used, copied here in case it disappears and with the ingredients converted to weights instead of cups.

250g butter, cubed
200g soft brown sugar (I ran out of this so I used molasses sugar today, it added a great depth to the flavour)
100g caster sugar
2 Eggs
200g self-raising flour
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon cornflour
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
300g dark chocolate, chopped (use chips if you like but, meh)
200g walnuts roughly chopped

Cream together the butter and sugars for 3-4 minutes, until creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate and nuts - I do this by hand to save the mixer and avoid over-mixing. Roll largish handfuls into hockey puck shapes - I get about 15 cookies out of this mixture, but they are super big.
Bake at 210 degrees for 9-12 minutes or until golden brown on the top. Let them rest for at least 10 minutes to set.

Significantly less overwhelmed than I was on Thursday. Time passes. Deadlines loom and pass with no world-ending consequences.
I've got two very busy weekends coming up, but then it is half term, whoop whoop!

Strictly: My Dance of the Night

Really, really hard to choose this week. They were all very entertaining. I especially loved Michelle's quickstep (that woman is goals) and Dev's couple's choice dance to Aladdin (really fun and he nailed the character) but, surprisingly, it was Catherine's rumba that I wanted to watch again first. I'm not much for the rumba. Shirley said it always makes her feel awkward when it is early on in the series; it makes me feel awkward most of the time because it's so contrived, but Catherine and Johannes nailed it and I think that's why it seemed like everyone was crying. I think he's an excellent pro: he looked so proud of himself last week when Motsi complimented his choreography.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Three on Thursday

A lovely idea from Carole this week - the rose (best bit of your day), the thorn (worst bit) and the bud (something eagerly anticipated).

The Rose:
We had a new parents' evening and met the parents of our first year tutees. One of them told me tutor time was her favourite part of the week and she looked forward to it more than anything else. So cute.

The Thorn:
I spent much of the day chuckling in disbelief at the amount of work I need to get done. It's not even like it's little niggly things, either: it feels like every job is a time-limited, big, meaty, hour plus task, and none of them are fun: data scrutiny. Writing pupil references. Bidding for trip funding. Evidencing last year's targets even though I am not eligible for pay progression. Then, underneath that, the very important business of marking student work and planning lessons. The piles of paper on my desk are starting to mulch and I think it's only going to be a matter of time before somebody tells me it's a fire hazard and tidying it becomes, too, a can't-put-off task. I might just set fire to it myself. It would be quicker.

The Bud:
Well, I am going to bed as soon as I finish this which is quite exciting. But also I'm having Chinese tomorrow night with Gaz and Kath. I haven't seen Kath for 15 months and I haven't seen Gaz for about 2 years so the catch-up is going to be epic. Really looking forward to it.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Weeknote: 29/9

The front of the Volt, as explained in my weekend WIP post. Yesterday I cried off going round St Werb's art trail with Charlotte and worked on it doggedly until the shoulders were both done, which took longer than anticipated, as these things always do.

I should have cast on for the back today, but instead I used the paltry crafting time I had to try to start off a crochet blanket for my incoming niece. It hasn't begun well, but now I've read the comments on the pattern on Ravelry and see that lots of others had a similar issue at the start and there's a tutorial, so I will be trying that shortly.

Going to:
On Wednesday I went to the history lecture about abolition and class in Industrial Britain. It was really good but very high-brow for this sort of lecture. I think maybe he was quite nervous. I took my friend Rachael from school, who did a History and French degree, and we had dinner beforehand at St Mary's Kitchen which is an excellent Caribbean restaurant nearish school.

Other than that, it's been all about being at home. I had a killer work week and required a two hour nap on Thursday night, then racked up nearly 18 hours of sleep over this weekend. The change in the weather, too, means hibernation is tempting. I tried to act against it by planning weekends in Edinburgh and Belfast over the next few months.

Entertained by:
I'm into season 4 of Friday Night Lights, which is so watchable I could have finished it already, but I'm forcing myself to savour it. I've always said that if I lived in America I'd be the embarrassing stereotype with cowboy boots and a big truck and saying ya'll in a really irritating way. I don't know if I could stretch it to a love of football, but this series certainly helps.

I've also started watching Glow on Netflix. It's fun and I like spotting the anachronisms - pretty sure there weren't any Pringles in the 80s, but perhaps that was just in this country. I also like Kate Nash in it a lot.

I keep listening to Miley Cyrus's new song, which I think might be my favourite thing she's ever done.

I made myself a nice oatmeal courgette cake this weekend, to take to school. I added a cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Autumn is here and it's time for hefty cakes.

Like I can finally stop for breath. There were far fewer remarks than last year - 100 fewer, and even then the paper is half the length this year, because Reasons - but I was also going through paper production and have had some other urgent things to do. Last Sunday was a heavy work day but between that and my efforts in the week, I'm out of the woods now.

Weekend WIP

The front of the Volt jumper is finally finished.

I cast this on in July but then spent all summer knitting the Diatom shawl. It has been slow going, I think partly due to the intarsia - every few rows there had to be a detangling - and partly due to the purling. Give me in the round any day, all day long. The back should be quicker, though, since it's just plain st-st.

I am delighted with how the colours have turned out although nervous about the first wash/block - I would be sad to end up with a green flash. I have many colour catcher sheets, though, so hopefully it will be ok.

I'm excited about finishing it. I'm currently enjoying a slouchy jumper from M&S that Parpy Jo managed to snaffle for me in the sale - it is oversized with drop shoulders, like this one, and it's really comfy to wear.

I am a bit concerned that there is variation in the yarn that I didn't really think of. I didn't alternate blue skeins because there was already a lot going on, but when I laid it out to take a picture in the first instance, there was quite a pronounced line where (I assume) I introduced the second skein.

It isn't as pronounced in real life as in the picture, thankfully. However, I think I will alternate skeins on the back.

Sunday Selfie

This cute little bar was round the corner from our AirBnB stay in Copenhagen. They basically just sold meatballs with fixings and lovely cocktails. Here I am, enjoying a negroni.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Strictly Come Dancing: My Dance of the Night

A double this week because I forgot to do this last week. I don't normally watch the early episodes because they go on for a really long time, but since I was at home and wanting to knit for the past two Saturdays, watch them I did.

Week 1 - had to be Kelvin and Oti's Samba. I think everybody was just blown away by how good he was for the first week. I loved the shots of Jamie in the audience, clearly being slightly annoyed that he had been replaced by somebody so good at dancing.

Week 2 - I liked a lot of the dances this week, but nothing much stood out for me this week, so it probably has to be Mike and Katya's American Smooth, because it was extremely entertaining. The lifts were predictably risky but I reckon that after Ed Balls, Katya basically has no fear.

I do love Strictly being back. It's just a big part of the routine for autumn.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Three on Thursday

I went back over to Carole's blog for the first time in a while recently and found a new prompt - Three on Thursday, which seems more achievable than Ten on Tuesday, which I miss but can become quite the time suck. So here we go.

Three things I'm doing to make myself happier

1. Home improvement. 
Done by someone else, and being fussy with it. We live in a permanent state of clutter (this mainly seems to be my fault) and I am not here for it, so we are finally reaching the end of the home improvement project (for now) as the built-in storage under the stairs is being finished and the flooring has been picked out for the hall, enabling me to look at many-drawered cabinets for holding everything we really can't part with. Exciting.
The carpenter we got for the job has been great and I've been bossy. He wanted to put the coat rail at waist height ('We measured your longest coat on it and it's fine') and left to right, but I have insisted on high up and front to back, because I know there are rarely-worn coats I won't need to get at and this is the best use of the space. He wanted to put 5-6 shelves of 30-40cm in the bookcase he's built me to replace the banister but I insisted on fewer, taller shelves because I wanted it more open. I'm not normally someone who is this bossy in this sort of role (though bossy is a natural state for me, so it's odd) but I have stuck to my guns and I'm getting what I want. He seems almost pleased at the direction. Who knew?

2. Prepping vegetables
Lunches are a personal watermark of my work-life balance. School do good lunches that are only £2 but if I'm buying them every day, it's because I'm not looking after myself. So far this term I've managed to batch cook enough veggies on a Sunday to have a home-made salad every day of the week. Granted, my 9-vegetable salad has shrunk to a 4-vegetable one this week, thanks to a busy Sunday, but it'll do. I feel a lot calmer when I can pack my own lunch.

3. Making plans
I've got friends who've moved to Edinburgh and Belfast recently that I'd like to visit. Today I caught myself thinking that I shouldn't visit them both in November because it's too many weekends away. Hang it all. This shouldn't be an issue! I am going to get the calendar out and make plenty of weekend plans between now and the end of the year.

Here's Carole's post on the matter. Thanks for the prompt!

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Weekend FO

This was finished two weeks ago but I was waiting for the quarterly Flock gathering so that I could get some Mr B pictures for my blog post.

Pattern: Diatom Shawl by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence
Yarn: Knitpicks Palette - 4 balls of red, one each of the other five colours
Needle: 4mm
Mods: I wouldn't have a clue how to modify something of this intricacy, so none, unless you count where I made a mistake and didn't fix it - this happened disturbingly regularly but I can't find any of them in the finished item, thankfully.

This kit has been in my stash since 2013. I think I might have mentioned that already. It was a fairly straightforward knit for the most part, although when each repeat got to around 20 stitches, I did struggle a bit to hold the pattern in my head on complicated rows. Luckily every other round was plain knitting, which helped, and I took it to Copenhagen with me, which allowed for lots of knitting time. I pack a new ball of red and an optimistic ball of orange, and was thrilled when I ended up needing both - that might be the first time that's every happened.

I was going to gift this as a baby blanket but was warned about giving holey things for use with little fingers, and it is handwash only which I don't think SIL should have to manage on top of managing a baby, so I am going to keep it for me. It could probably block a bit bigger but I didn't have enough room on the time I am staying somewhere with a king sized bed, I might have another go.

Sunday Selfie

My extended summer absence means there are all kinds of selfies of me on holiday and I'm going to share a few of my faves over the next few weeks.

First up - me on a beach in Malta. It was a private hotel beach with call buttons on the umbrellas so the waiting staff would bring you all the food and cocktails you might desire. Turned out this was some food, lots of cocktails. We spent two days in a row lying around like this.

I can't remember the last time I had a summer holiday that involved two days of sunning myself on the beach. I thought I would get bored but then another cocktail would turn up which helped to break up the day. Also, this bikini is made from recycled plastic bottles AND is in the colours of the Maltese flag so I was double winning in it. 

 The holidays already feel like a very long time ago.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Weekend FO

I'm cheating a bit on this one because it's not a knitted FO. This afternoon, Mr Z and I finally put together the massive hutch I bought for the bunnies last month. Said hutch arrived damaged, so we had to wait for the new part to ship from Germany to fix it (the vendor tried to provide me a 20% refund instead, so I contacted the manufacturer, who said the part was available but had to come out via a business, so I had to ask the vendor to order it....such a faff).

Firstly, it is a relief to get it out of the house. We're having some furniture constructed around the stairs so everything from under the stairs is currently piled in the living room, and with the boxes too, it was starting to feel like a hoarder house. I find such environments quite stressful.

Secondly, I think they like it.

We managed to train them to use the ramp already - this took Naus, our old rabbit, several months to understand, but we managed to get Cromwell (the black one, almost out of sight) to understand its purpose by putting him in the top hutch and leaving a trail of dandelions down it. Once he got it, he taught Earl. So, that's good. They're probably not quite old enough yet to stay out in it all the time, but the day is approaching. Soon, the living room floor will no longer be strewn with hay.

They're exceptional cuties.

This was them on my birthday, three weeks ago - they're growing very quickly. 


Knitting on the Diatom Shawl continues apace - I am on row 168 of 182 now, so the end is in sight. It was, of course, at this point that I discovered the ball of contrast colour 4 is missing from the bag. Of course it is. I checked the photograph from my stash and it was definitely in there at some point. Of course it was. I had a half-hearted rummage through my downstairs craft box, where the rest of the bag was, but it didn't turn anything up, so today, with a big sigh and an anti-histamine, I prepared to turn out the chest of yarn where the bag had been stored. This wasn't too depressing, because it also holds the yarn for my intended next project, so two birds with one stone, and everything.

Except, it's not there. Of course it's not. That would be too easy. It is very definitely Missing. I will have a look behind the sofa and a proper look in the downstairs box but, if nothing, I am going to have to order a new ball on Tuesday, or do extra rows in CC2, 3 and 5, which I don't want to do. Thankfully it is still in production, and in stock at Great British Yarns.

This is disastrous enough but falls really into the category of minor annoyance compared to the second disaster. Rummaging for something last month, I discovered a little of the yarn I had bought at Wonderwool last year had been lightly mothed. I was not too concerned - it was only a little, and it was in the basket of yarn that lived downstairs until we had the floors done, and I've had moths nomming the downstairs stuff before, so - meh.

However, today I pulled out all the yarn from the basket as I rummaged for the missing Palette and the scale is much greater than I realised. There's a second batch of yarn, that I have already wound, that has one very mothed cake in it (woe, woe is me) and, worst, at the bottom of the basket is the cardigan/wrap waistcoat I began knitting in 2013 and it has been mothed beyond all rescue.

I can't believe I have to get rid of it and I never even finished it! This pattern was also a gift from a knitting group friend who died a few years ago, which makes it doubly sad. I might felt it and use it as a blanket for the rabbits. Darn moths.

And possibly the worst is, that I've never had a problem with eating moths upstairs - only downstairs. But now I realise I might have inadvertently introduced them into my stash room by storing the infested basket in there. The vast majority of my yarn is already stored in airtight plastic anyway, luckily, but I can see that this week now includes to job of bagging up anything not already bagged. That must make me pretty much the only person hoping for a rainy day this week.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Weekend WIPs

Plural, because it's the holidays now and I'm ambitious.

First, I cast on the Diatom Shawl from the kit I bought from Knitpicks in the US in 2013.

The FO is going to be very large and, as it works outwards, there are five colour changes so it becomes something of a rainbow. It's theoretically intended to be a baby blanket for my very first niece/nephew, but it may not really be suitable for that. We'll see. I'm quite enjoying knitting a complex lace pattern again, though I did make some mistakes just while knitting it in front of the TV, so I took something else to cast on at knitting group yesterday.

It's the Volt sweater I bought the pattern for at Wonderwool in 2018, along with the delectable blue Triskelion, and the yellows I picked up this year. I'm thrilled with the way the colours are coming out and the fabric is just luscious so far. The bright yellow is noticeably thinner than the others, in spite of being the same weight as the others; I don't think it will matter too much in the end, though. My main worry is that the blue will bleed and the flash will turn sickly green. But, I won't dwell on that too much. 

So lovely! I can't put it down. The Diatom might take a bit longer than I thought...

Weekend FO

My second Wonderwool kit, finished! With enormous thanks to Kat for doing the Kitchener for me. Feeling quite pleased with myself, especially as knitting almost never gets done in the month of June. I am now well past the total knitted for 2018 and we're only halfway. Go me.

Pattern: Peeky Catsocks (link is to the kit I bought)
Yarn: Coopknits Sock Yeah! DK - the kit came with a skein of each colour and there's probably enough light grey and yellow left for another pair
Needle: 3.75mm - I used DPNs in a fit of nostalgia
Mods: Nothing intentional, but the toes are meant to match the cuffs...oops

These worked up really quickly, in spite of the slightly fiddly colourwork-on-DPNs vibe. I had to rip back the first cuff and thereafter followed the pattern advice to knit them inside out, allowing a bit more room in the floats.

They really need blocking but Mr Z put them on as soon as I gave them to him, so it might be a while yet.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Weekend WIP

I've been working on these for about 3 weeks. I had to rip back part of the cuff on the first one because I'd pulled my floats too tight, but were it not for that they'd be even closer to being finished. DK socks are speedy, and therefore perfect for somebody who is really busy. I started the second one at knitting group yesterday and I'm almost ready to start the colourwork on the foot already.

My first top down socks and I don't hate it, although Kat had to graft the toe for me at knitting group yesterday (thanks Kat) because I am inept. I do well out of knitting group, people are always doing helpful things for me. I lead a charmed life, truly.

I messed up the pattern a bit because the toe and cuff and heel should all match, but obviously don't on sock one and so won't on sock two either. But it matters little.

For the foot of sock one and all the colourwork since, I have followed the suggestion in the pattern instructions and knitted it inside out, giving plenty of play to the float by holding a finger between the yarn and the sock so it doesn't pull tight. It has worked a treat. A little fiddly, but that's the benefit of the DK, I suppose - there are not masses of stitches to worry about.

Weekend FO

I finished this about three weeks ago but, yknow, June. Every year the end of it catches me by surprise.

 Pattern: Bee Happy Shawl by Samantha Hinks
Yarn: Unbelieva-wool Sparkly Sock. Most of two skeins (a bit less of the grey)
Needle: 3.75mm
Mods: I knitted the moss stitch sections as moss stitch as I know it, rather than as instructed. I skipped the final two rows of yellow garter stitch and went straight into the cast off. The designer was selling the kit at Wonderwool without the sparkle, and reluctantly swapped them out for me after explaining that she really didn't want me to run out of yarn, so I came up with a couple of contingency plans. My other thought was to knit the bind off in grey, of which there is more left, but in the end I liked the yellow edging with the yellow beads.

Blocking, Wrong side up. Sunny day. I liked the light and shadow but it doesn't make for a great picture, sorry.

I couldn't get on with the picot edging instructions. I couldn't make the yarn overs work - I think I was having brain freeze. Moreover, I couldn't find an instructional video or website that used the same instructions, so in the end I used some others. K1, CO 1, BO 1st knit stitch, CO1, BO 1st CO stitch, place bead, CO 1, BO beaded stitch, K1, BO1, K1, BO1 - each picot bound off 3 shawl stitches together with 3 cast on stitches. It looks good. 

It is just as well that I kept on with this until I'd finished, even when it looked like Naomi wasn't leaving in July - she got a last minute reprieve and is heading back to Northern Ireland at the end of this term. Very sorry to see her go but delighted to get this done in time.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Weekend WIP

I am very close to finishing the bees shawl, thanks to half term and a whole Saturday spent knitting, between knit group and the Flock gathering hosted by Birdstreet UK. I had stiff hands by the end of the day, but it did mean that this afternoon I was ready to start the beaded picot edging.

Six picots down, 165 to go...

I found the instructions a little confusing and difficult to work - lots of YO, bind off stitch over YO, but then a weird instruction about picking up the last bound off stitch in each picot and passing the YO over it. Well, I couldn't make this work - I kept losing my last YO. I went away and watched picot edge videos on YouTube, read picot edge blogs and looked in my stitchionary, to no avail. I don't think there's anything wrong with the instructions: I just can't make them work for me. So, in the end, I am doing something a bit different -

K1. Cast on a stitch. Pass the knitted stitch over to bind off. CO a stitch, pass one over. Bead that second CO stitch. CO another stitch, pass beaded stitch over. K1, pass over, k1, pass over. 

It's going to make a pretty, wavy edge when it is finished. If I can do 20 picots a night, I should be able to FO it next weekend....we'll see. It's not the funnest bind off ever. 

Monday, 27 May 2019

While-ago FO

I forgot that I hadn't posted about Mother Hand's cardigan. Here we are, a scant two months after Mother's Day and it's already finished! (Heavy on the irony). I finally sewed on the buttons last weekend when Mr Z was rewinding the shawl yarn. They're nice horn ones that I got from Brimstone buttons at Wonderwool.

 Sans flash.

Pattern: Shapely Boyfriend Cardigan by Stephanie Japel along with a charted motif based on Sarah Lund's jumper from The Killing. Mother Hand and I are having a Scandinavian holiday this summer, so it seemed apt.
Yarn: Laal Bear, from deep stash. It's been in a hatbox for so long it smells of Lush now, instead of sheep. It took just over 5 skeins of cream and just under 1 skein of brown.
Needle: 5mm
Mods: I knitted it in the round from the neck down and steeked up the front. I started in one size and increased to the next size up after the waist shaping.

Avec flash.

I really hope it is a good fit. In the end, I just oversewed the colourwork edges with the ends when I was weaving them in; the crochet reinforcement held where it was just over the cream rows, so hopefully it will hold. We're off for a little spa break with gin tasting and afternoon tea this week, so I will hopefully be able to add some pictures of her in it to this post after I get back.

Weekend WIP

I've been working on this bee shawl for Naomi for the past week and a half.

It's a kit I bought from Wonderwool. It's knitting up really soft and with just the right amount of sparkle (which you can't really see in the picture).

Naomi is a colleague who loves bees. She announced her intention to leave at the end of this school year, so I got started asap. Well, she hasn't yet found another job, so I guess I have a bit longer to finish, but since it has a 500+ stitch picot beaded bind off and exam marking starts in 10 days, I'm still knitting as fast as I can.

I had to take a brief hiatus last weekend when I had a catastrophic ball collapse. It took Mr Z the best part of two days to untangle the skein. Now I'm up to row 110ish, which is around 350 stitches of moss stitch per row, 16 times. Sigh. It is slow going. The pattern calls this moss stitch but then instructs me to purl every stitch on the wrong side. That's not moss stitch, in my book, so I am knitting the purls and purling the knits, which means it is going even slower than it needs to. After that, though, it's only three more sections until the bind off. I'm feeling determined.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Weekend WIPs

Technically this should be a FO post, but I need to weave in some ends and get it blocked before I will declare it FO'd.

Bonus toes in this one.

I bought this yarn at Wonderwool in 2017 and fully intended to knit them into this Spice Market for myself, but then decided to knit it as a gift for Mother Z, a decision I regret only more keenly since Fivemoons didn't have any mini moon sets on her stall this year - I can only assume she's not creating them anymore, which is sad if true. The colours are just lovely and blend very subtly. I am also a big fan of this pattern. It is written for six colours but I made it work for five without too much trouble - I think it is probably 12 rows shorter than it should be, but it's not exactly noticeable. I went up a needle size from the last time I knitted it so it should block out to have a nice drape.

Damn me and my altruism. I knew there was a reason I only ever knitted anything for myself.

I dived straight into my next shawl project this evening, a Bee Happy which will be a gift for Naomi, a colleague who's probably leaving at the end of the year. I wanted to get right on with Volt but I'm afraid that when exam season hits there will be no time to finish a shawl and I don't need a DK jumper for summer anyway (though I did wind the yarn for it today).

Once I've finished the shawl, I will be over halfway to my best ever yarn total for a year (2016: 8,163m) and it will only be halfway through the year. I might have finally found my knitting mojo again.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Sunday Selfie

I have been looking through my pictures and GoPro footage from Alabama and came across this accidental capture. I spent a lot of time shouting GOPRO TAKE A PHOTO at the GoPro, with limited success, so in the end I set it to image burst and took a dozen or so each time. This was a side capture and quite blurry but it was good early morning light and I was filled with pancakes and therefore extra cheery.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Wonderwool 2019

April has been a luscious month full of all sorts of treats. I started with a weekend of geeking out over history topics in London; then popped off to Alabama for a few days where I was thoroughly spoilt by the tourist board and their able helpers; and it's been rounded off with the annual visit to Wonderwool.

I've been looking back through previous years and realised I've been considerably less restrained than I have been for a while. I first thought I'd buy nothing. Then I aimed for some yellow to go with last year's blue, for a Volt jumper (a pattern I bought last year). Then I added something for a shawl for my friend Naomi to the list. Then the buttons for Mother Hand's cardigan. Then I burned the list and just went for it.

Top row - two skeins of yellow from WYS, to go with the blue, for the Volt. The colours are spot on but the brighter yellow isn't quite the texture I wanted. Still, it was the best I could find.
Two projects bags from Siobhans Crafts. The woven one was made by Siobhan's friend using Siobhan-dyed yarn. It is the softest, squidgiest thing I found all day. I might have been tempted by a wrap if they're had one in these colours.
Three skeins of Coopknits DK and a pattern for some sekrit socks.
Second row - five mini skeins of Mr B's yarn from Birdstreet. They're local Bristol sellers. They had some lovely things. I'm going to match these with the red fivemoons, middle of the row, to make some kind of variegated shawl.
One the right, a skein of Triskelion Heulwen 4-ply from the sale bin. Just because. It's a nice neutral and so soft.
Third row - five skeins of Triskelion Hama Sport, also from the sale bin. I dithered for a long time over these, particularly because they had several colours and I couldn't choose. I found a pattern that will work, though, so it came home with me.
In the middle, another skein of Riverknits Starry Night BFL 4-ply - now I have three and can do a garment.
On the right, another wholly unnecessary purchase- 4 skeins of Giddy Aunt DK - but LOOK AT THAT BLUE. It almost glows.
Bottom row - Buttons for Mother Hand's cardigan. A gradient set from Riverknits - the display and the colours got me. And finally, a shawl kit for Naomi. She is a fan of the bees. They had a sample knitted up and it was the first thing I bought. The sample was sparkly but the kit wasn't she was very good and swapped it out for me when I asked. It was from Unbelieva-wool.

I'm closeish to finishing Mother Z's birthday shawl and then I'm a bit spoilt for choice. I think Volt first, then the sekrit socks (which should be quick) and then Naomi's shawl, though I really need to have cast that on before May half term, so perhaps I should begin with that.

We stayed in a new bunkhouse this year, near Tirabad, which had epic views.

There was a brutal storm on Friday night and it rained most of the day on Saturday. I was freezing. I really must remember to pack leggings next year.

Very enjoyable! Now, must knit more...

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Weeknote: 31/3

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 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.

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.

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

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.

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

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!

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

January Goals

I know it is January 20th. It's very late for goal setting. However, I was reminiscing about years gone by when I used to make a little goal list at the start of each month and then review it at the end, and how motivating I found it. In my current mood of Getting Things Done, I have made the mental list I've been considering all year something solid.

I've split it, this month.

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).
2. Write the worksheets to go with the lesson plans (around 60 in total. That is six per day).
3. Write the exam papers - 1, 3 and 4.
4. Book all my meeting accommodations for the summer.
5. Apply for the fellowship I've had my eye on.
6. School marking - sixth form mocks, 12H, 12P and 13H. The official deadline for these isn't until the first week of Feb, which I find is not helpful. I want them done. I've had them for over a week now.

1. Get the floor man round to measure up the hall/stairs/landing for new flooring.
2. Choose new flooring and stair carpet.
3. Put away the clothes I took on holiday.
4. Put away all the clothes over the banister.
5. Finish knitting Westbourne.
6. Wash the kitchen floor.
7. Finish reading a book. I have about three that I'm halfway through - any one of those would be fine.
8. Do two exercise sessions apart from seeing Jenny.

I am not sure I will get all 14 things done, but I'm going to give it a good go. Luckily I have a PGCE student now so I am about 10 lessons light in the timetable. The knock on effect of this should be considerable. Feeling determined. Grrrr!

Weeknote: 20/1

I spent much of the week steadfastly ignoring Westbourne. The sleeves were just so fiddly and I was being sulky about the very tiny job of rewinding all the colours so I had two mini balls of each. Thankfully I managed to get over myself and put four new colour stripes on over the weekend; Mr Z is now chipping in and rewinding the balls for me so I have no excuse. Ten colours left. I am making it my aim to do at least one per day, because I really want to finish this before the end of the month. One stripe a day - 8 rows - is just on the edge of achievable; I also find myself in the delightful position of having no plans for next Saturday though, so I should be able to make some serious progress if I can find myself a good boxset to watch.

Going to:
I went to see The Favourite on Monday. It had a gratifying amount of very bad language in it (very of the time) and I much appreciated the extremely heavy make up on the men vs no make up on the women (unless they were off to a ball) - surely a deliberate choice on the part of the costumers. All three lead actresses were very watchable. I was slightly distracted by trying to guess which stately homes provided which parts of the set: the gallery where Queen Anne shouts at the musicians to leave is in Hampton Court and I walked down it with students last month, and stood in the fire place, so I was a bit over-excited about that.

I can recommend. I am hoping to make a Monday movie a regular fixture in my week, since the cinema offers cheap Monday tickets.

On Tuesday we had the ski trip meeting at school. I am way too overexcited about the impending ski trip - under four weeks to go. I'm mostly checking the webcams daily and stalking the long-range weather forecast. I was excited to discover that the region we're going to is close to where Zoe and I went and had our Austrian spa experience. I think we'll take the students over there - not to the clothing optional side, though, obvs.

On Wednesday I went to an interesting evening training on Curriculum. There were some interesting speakers and I ended up randomly sitting by someone who I have spoken to often on Twitter but never met IRL. The longer I teach, the more I recognise what people are saying in their lectures, but it's nice to be reminded of these things.

Entertained by:
ITV2 has been showing all the Harry Potter films, so I've been watching them. Very enjoyable, though it makes me want to read the books again.

I've continued to watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I like the fact that her American customers are so utterly uncynical. In general, the series makes me sad about two things - one, I would like to declutter but feel hamstrung by (a) a lack of time and (b) a lack of storage; and two, I wish they had made more seasons of Life Laundry, which had a bit more substance to it than Tidying Up.

On Friday night I tried a Netflix movie, Dumpling, mainly because I like things with Jennifer Aniston in them. It was a pretty light and gentle film. I enjoyed the accents. I should try to browse more Netflix things.

Monday is meant to be the most depressing day of the year (though apparently this is a marketing device of Sky Travel) so I have roped in the other Humanities teachers to bake cakes for everyone and make it BREW Monday instead. I had a humbling experience, baking two tried and tested recipes and messing them both up.

Firstly, the brownies - I heated the sugar and butter too rapidly and ended up with large sugar crystals throughout, but because I had run out of butter and didn't want to go out again, I just bunged the whole lot in the batter anyway and hoped for the best. Luckily, they seem to have largely baked out, thankfully.

Secondly, the caramel slices - I attempted the coffee version I tried before Christmas, only this time, I stirred in instant coffee at the end of the caramel cooking process. The granules did not disssolve. Indeed, they went crunchy. Utter fail. I think I will take them along anyway but add a little sign to explain that I can do better. I'll have another go: third time will be the charm, I'm sure.

Much less tired this week. More productive, though still not productive enough. I got all my dates through from the exam board so I am planning the rest of my year now and looking at summer holidays so I have something concrete to look forward to. I'm excited that I might have got a place to go on a free teacher trip to America at Easter, but more on that next week, when it will hopefully have been confirmed.

This week is going to be a solid week of Doing The Work!

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Weeknote: 12/1

I got the sleeves onto the needles and have managed one stripe so far. It's fiddly and annoying striping when you're doing sleeves two at a time on one long circular. I knew this already but I the fear of running out of yarn partway down the second sleeve necessitates this approach.

My aim is to get five stripes done before going to knitting group on Saturday. Hold me accountable.

Going to:
Sleep, mostly. My body clock is MESSED. UP. It's not behaving like normal west-to-east jetlag, which would be up late and sleep late. It's bed early, wake early - still. I went to be at 10.30 last night (I made myself stay up) and was awake at 6 this morning, though I made myself stay in bed until 7.30. On Tuesday I was in bed by 8pm; on Thursday, by 7. It has had a devastating impact on my work rate, which is almost lower than it was in the holidays. I am hoping next week will be better.

I have been to our sister school in the south of the city twice this week, once to deliver some training, a second time to do some joint observations, and I've hosted my opposite number to observe too. This is part of a plan that was put in place last term and I'm quite enjoying working in a different school a bit. It's very different. It's given me an epiphany or two.

Yesterday I went to London for the day for a big history meeting. There are big changes afoot. I got promoted to a role that won't require any additional work from me. That was exciting.

Entertained by:
I haven't had much time in my life for entertainment, what with all the sleeping I've been doing. No books have been read. Barely eny TV has been watched, though I did watch the first episode of Marie Kondo on Netflix. Hilarious. When she suggested the children might like to be included in the clothes folding as a fun activity, I thought the parents were going to crack up, but they did hold it together. I'd heard of Marie Kondo before and some of what she says makes good sense. I was encouraged to do some putting away and some tidying today.

Sleepy, obvs. Excited about skiing - only 5 weeks to go. Keen to get started on the next set of house plans - new hall flooring, stair carpet and built-in shelving under the stairs.