Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Where have I been?

I’ve been busy lately. Work has been a bit of a challenge. It’s not the first time my team has been really busy, and not the first time I’ve seen individual project teams struggling under the weight of incipient deadlines, but it’s the first time the entire Software Engineering department has been buried under a raft of heavy commitments. Everyone is a little tense right now.
I’ve ended up needing to switch my brain off quite a lot. Where previously I would have logged on to work most evenings and done an extra hour or so, now I only log on if I know I need to finish something off, and I log off as soon as I’m done. Some evenings I deliberately don’t turn on my computer in case I feel obliged to log on to work. I know that this is going to have to change at some stage. The sort of job I do is never going to be the sort of job you can get done in 7.5 hours a day. You know that going in, and though it’s unwritten, it’s accepted. But just at the moment I’m not mentally in a good place to be working in the evenings.
Knitting has been my saviour, and I have been catching up on a number of knitting podcasts and audio books.

I’ve finished a jumper for the Boy
Ribbed jumper from Panda 8plys 11 Handknits for kids, Bendigo Luxury 8 ply, 2 balls Junior Navy, Tiny little bit of Ruby.

A Peace Baby for my nephew
Bendigo Luxury 8 ply, 1 ball Junior Navy, Cleckheaton Country Naturals, ¼ ball Lavender

And a Booga Bag for my friend Jo
Bendigo Rustic 12 ply in Elm, 1 Ball.
This one took absolutely every scrap of the ball. It’s bigger than any Booga Bag I’ve made before so I had trouble finding a box big enough to block it properly. I ended up using a shoe box that was probably a little bit too small, and I’m not entirely happy with how the top edge of the bag turned out – it was uneven and a little bit ripply. Still, the recipient (my friend Jo from work) was really happy with it and it is apparently getting lots of nice compliments so I guess it all turned out okay.
My big knitting companion for the last aaaaaages has been my cabled jacket/cardigan thingy. I started this on the 16th of May last year and have knitted on it on and off since then, with some stretches of lots of work, and some great periods of inactivity. I found it really quite tricky to get the hang of the cables, and I really dislike the yarn. It feels okay, and the cables look quite good, but it continually untwists and splits. The splittiness means that I’ve had to pay a lot more attention, particularly doing the cables, and I’ve needed to unpick some rows to fix split stitches, and occasionally I needed to perform challenging antics to drop back ladders of stitches (sometimes, terrifyingly, through the cables themselves) to fix up some dodgy stitch some uncountable numbers of rows previous. I know of at least one dodgy stitch which will stay there. It’s right at the bottom of one of the front pieces and I didn’t notice it until I was sewing in the pocket piece last night. No way to fix it without redoing practically the whole piece. I can live with it, as it’s really only visible from the wrong side, and I’m actually just happy to have this garment almost finished.

All that said, I think it marks a bit of a turning point for me as a knitter. It was the first real cable project I’ve ever knitted, and while it’s not all-over cables, there is still (to my mind, at least) a significant amount of cabling in it. There are two, three and four stitch cable and twist stitches in both directions, so it’s not just the same thing over and over. I’ve been finding lately that the cables are getting easier and easier. I must here give credit to Grumperina’s instructions for cabling without a cable needle because I would have gone nuts without them. I suspect that like the rest of this project, the non-cable-needle cables would have been simpler with less splitty yarn.
I realised last night that my queue of upcoming projects includes two cabled projects and three or four lace ones. Lace is another technique I’ve not got much experience in, having knitted only a few booties. I’m sure there are lots of challenges waiting for me in the lace projects on the queue (my ravelry queue).

We went to the Ekka on Saturday. I let the boys run off to the showbag pavilion while I pottered through the arts and crafts. I was intrigued to find that there was only one item displayed for the Knitted Felting category. I can imagine that they wouldn’t display every entry, but I would have thought they would have shown 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Does that mean there was only one entry? First place was certainly a nicely made entry – a stripy, shaped felted bag with bamboo handles – but I think I could do something of a similar quality. I’m entertaining thoughts of making one of the gorgeous Noni bags (possibly this one) , or designing something of my own….felted butterflies perhaps…

But I think that has to wait for the moment. I need to get the cabled cardy finished, as no matter how much I am celebrating the end of the knitting, there’s still a not unsignificant amount of work to go before I have a wearable garment. So I’m hoping to wash and pin out the pieces this evening so that I can start sewing up soon.

And then maybe I can start my February Lady Sweater.

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