Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A few of my favourite things

I've been doing a lot of knitting lately but either I've been too busy or it's been too dark to take decent photos so there's nothing much to show. I'm working on a lot of baby things at the moment - finishing off a Little Petal like this one, only in red, and working on a wool vest and a couple of Felix's Cardigans for babies of work colleagues.

I'm going to try and make it to Stitch and Bitch tonight, and will make more of an effort to actually find the group at the cafe this time.

I work with a woman whose family runs a rose farm, and she brings in roses to buy for an amazingly low price every week or so. I buy a lot of them. The first roses of the season were available yesterday and I have a gorgeous bunch of Mr Lincolns on my desk in front of me. They smell divine. Mr Lincoln roses are truly one of my favourite things.

Here's a list of a few others

 - well-worn flannelette pyjamas.
 - L'Occitane Lavender hand cream
 - T2 Gorgeous Geisha tea
 - Strawberries
 - Black Ballet Flat shoes
 - Fountain pens with fine nibs and bottled ink (I like Lamy and Noodlers inks but I haven't tried many brands)
 - Moleskine A5 notebooks and Clairefontaine basics- I'd really love one with the Moleskine cover and Clairefontaine paper...but for now I'll just use the Moleskine in my handbag where it gets knocked around and a Clairefontaine in my knitting bag where it's a bit more protected.
 - Doctor Who, particularly as interpreted by David Tennant
 - The sound of running water - in a stream or waterfall, not where someone's left the tap on
 - Soaking in a nice warm bath with candles. (We don't have a bathtub in our house!!!!!)
 - Neverwhere and Snow, Glass, Apples, both by Neil Gaiman. I love everything of Neil's that I have read but Neverwhere and the short story Snow, Glass, Apples remain my favourites.
 - Allens Red Frogs. (Allens call them frogs alive now, but I just know them as red frogs. The Allens ones are much better than any other brand of jelly frogs I've ever had)
 - Ravelry.
 - Namaste 'Oh Snap!' Pouches. - these make it so much easier to wrangle my knitting projects.
 - KnitPicks/KnitPro Options/Nova and Harmony/Symfonie interchangeable needles. - I love the sharp points on these needles and usually only switch to something else when I can't find them (it's not that I'm clumsy and forgetful, I'm sure some of these needle tips have run away to join the circus or something) or when I need 30cm circulars for narrow tubes.
 - perfect Spring days when it's a comfy temperature to wear jeans and a t-shirt and walk barefoot on the grass. 

Today's one of those days. Such a pity I have to be inside, working!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It wasn't me, honest.

I just logged on to make an update, and I found that there was a problems with the Tweet feed tool that I had on my sidebar and it was displaying someone else's tweets. They were highly profane, which is their right, but wasn't really something I wanted appearing on my blog, especially as it wasn't clear that they weren't my tweets. So I'm sorry if anyone was offended. I have removed the feed until I can be more confident that it's really displaying my own personal tweeting.
I've had two days off work to try and recover my brain from its burnout. I am still tired and not entirely on top of my game, but I feel a lot better. I may need a few more strategically placed long weekends but I think I can get on top of it all. 

I finished the February Lady yesterday, just in time to wear her in my attempt to catch up with the Brisbane Stitch and Bitch for the first time. I say attempt because the whole expedition began with me driving nervously all over the place (I still don't like night driving) and confusing my poor GPS, which had to keep recalculating, continued with me hovering in the back garden of the cafe trying to identify knitters by the sheer force of my will until people started looking strangely at the creepy lady who was looking at everyone, and ended with me drinking my peppermint tea at a table for one and going home.

Anyway, I think it looks beautiful, although if I make another one I might add more stitches at the front as it seems to fit everywhere except across the front. That's okay, because I like to wear my cardigans open, but it might be nice to have the choice to wear it buttoned up if I want to.

This photo was from before I sewed the ends in. I'll have to get more photos with me actually wearing it at another time. 

I took a trip out to Spotlight and picked up some sale yarn - 10 balls of Moda Vera Mousse (Wool/Soya blend) in lavender,  6 balls of Moda Vera Kid Mohair Blend (Kid Mohair/Nylon) in Ice Blue, all $2 per ball, and various odd balls - some various jewellery findings, crimping pliers, needle felting equipment and a Spiderman quilt cover set for The Boy. He's had a Bob The Builder one for ages so I think he needs something a little more grown-up.

Anyway, I'm off to do some work. It's nice that I only have to work for three days before I get a weekend.  I wish it were that way every week!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Better to burn out than to fade away

Well, probably not.

People who know me would probably suggest that the statement that I am a very emotional person who feels things deeply and has trouble hiding what I'm feeling would be an understatement. I wear my heart on my sleeve. It's just how I am.

It can be a bit of a double-edged sword. There are undoubtably benefits - I think I've gravitated to the sort of job I have, which I consider a sort of highly analytical customer service position, because I care deeply about making people happy (it just happens to be a job where I make people happy by keeping their software working properly). I take it to heart when I can't solve problems, or can't enable my team to solve them, and this leads me to learn, and to fight for the right solution, and to work hard to fix problems for our customers.  I try hard to understand the feelings of my customers which encourages me to build good relationships with them. Without these relationships, I don't think it would be possible to do my job.

There can be serious problems inherent in it as well. I take things personally, which means that I take it to heart when things don't go well. Unfortunately this is not uncommon in my line of work. Usually I can deal with it and just try to put processes in place so that things go better next time. When I'm tired, that's harder to do and it tends to pile up on me.

The other thing that tends to happen is that I have trouble saying no, and I take on too much. I have a very supportive team but I don't like to overload them so if I've taken on too much then I try to do it myself so I can protect them from it. As it turns out in my job as in so many others, this approach leads to tears. There isn't a nice natural barrier on the amount of work so it stops when you've got enough. It just keeps coming.

And what's happened lately is that too much work and too much going wrong (thankfully, not much of it my fault) and too much taking everything to heart and trying to keep making people happy in a rather impossible situation has ended up taking advantage of the fact that I'm naturally prone to burnout.

I'm a bit disinterested in work, I'm getting irritated and snapping at people, I'm not as productive as normal, I'm tired and my short-term memory is failing. I make it through the day but I'd rather be elsewhere. Classic burnout symptoms.

Luckily, I've recognised it and I can try and do something about it. Granted, I've probably left it a little longer than I should have done, but it's recognised now. I'll be taking a couple of days off next week to try and recharge. If that's not enough then I can take more time off, and I can get some help.

I strongly recommend anyone who is feeling this way in their work to talk to someone - a close friend, a family member, possibly a doctor or psychologist if you are comfortable with that. Most large workplaces in Australia provide access to Employee Assistance Programs where you can get free, confidential, professional advice from specialist Psychologists. I know it's really hard to admit that you're having trouble but it's better to do it early and get a handle on it than to allow it to dig you a great big hole that you can't get out of. Left too long, burnout can have serious consequences. It can leave you questioning your own sanity, can lead to mistakes at work and home and can destroy relationships, careers and lives. Caught early, you can prevent this, and learn how to recognise it in the future.

[eta: our title today comes from the inimitable Mr Neil Young, from his song Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the black)]

(I'm not an expert and I'm only talking from my own personal experience. I recommend that anyone having emotional issues that concern or worry them in any way should seek professional advice.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Speedy Knitting Update

Lots of knitting going on here - not enough to get some stuff finished by the time I wanted it, but I can live with that.

Finished - One Cable Cardy - Long Line Cardigan in style B from Cleckheaton book 950, Bendigo Classic 8 ply in Pampas. Only crap photos with the cardy being modelled by the kitchen stool or the couch, sorry. I'll blog more about the experience of this project later when I have more thinking time. I didn't really like working with this yarn but the result is quite good. I wore this to work and two separate people told me it looked just like a bought one, so I'll take that as a compliment.

(Click to embiggen all these photos - they look a bit better bigger. They were all taken in artifical light with flash on my poorest quality camera so they're not good pics, sorry!)

February Lady Sweater - tried magic loop and 2 circs for the sleeves but just ended up getting lots of loose ladders so I ended up buying 30cm Addi Turbos. Boy do I miss the sharp points on my Knit Picks Harmony needles. 
I decided to finish off the Ribbon-tied wool vest from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies for the soon-to-be-born baby of a workmate. Front and back and one sleeve one, almost done on the second sleeve. (Bendigo Luxury 4 ply in Oceania)
And, as someone close to me has just revealed that they are expecting, I've started another Little Petal in Bendigo Luxury 8 ply in Ruby so that I can have a pretty little girl offering in case that suits whichever little munchkin turns up. Plenty of time to make a boyish offering later to cover that eventuality!

[edited to fix silly spelling mistakes - I originally indicated that I tried magic look for the FLS sleeves instead of magic loop. But that's an idea - there are times when I wish I could finish a sleeve just by looking at it!]

Sunday, September 6, 2009

On second thought, I don't really want to know.

I had my colonoscopy on Friday. The prep turned out to be unpleasant but not too bad - certainly not as bad as the last time. On Friday the whole process seemed to go quite smoothly, and the twilight sedation was just as good as I remembered - one moment I was chatting to the anaesthetist, the next, waking up in recovery.
I tried to knit while I waited for the Man to pick me up but the canula that was still in the crook of my elbow meant I couldn't bend my left arm, which made it kind of tricky.
I went into it knowing that it was all routine. I knew what the results would be. I'm feeling the best I have in years, so there's no way anything could be wrong. Which is probably why the actual results knocked me for six. When the Man came to get me, they took my blood pressure, removed the canula and handed me a few bits of paper... Post-procedure instructions, a slip from the Doc which read
1 polyp!
Crohns @ ileum
And to top it all off a rather revolting photo of my ulcer.

I don't know what to make of it. I don't know when I'm going to be able to see the Doc to discuss it, and while I know I should reserve judgement until I chat to him, it's really hard not to be a little bit scared.

So I'm feeling a bit strung out at the moment. Still, I'm continuing to feel well, so that's got to count for something.....

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is this ever going to end?

I started seaming up the cabled cardy last night. I love how the instructions just say "Join shoulders , sew side and sleeve seams" like it's quick and easy. Ha! As if!

Don't get me wrong, I love mattress stitch. I think it's one of those magic things in knitting, up there with the way lace reveals itself after blocking.  A few stitches back and forth, pull the thread taut and your two pieces of knitting zip up together so that from the right side you can't even see where the seam is. Ta Da!

But somewhere after the 7 gazillionth little mattress stitch, I found myself thinking that I really really wished I was descended from Pygmies. You know, so I would be small and by extension, my jumpers would be small. I'm sure there are some limitations to being a Pygmy, like not being able to reach the high shelves in the supermarket, or the pedals in the car, and having to knit your jumpers from kids patterns (hey, this argument is sounding less sensible as I go on!) but you'd have to do less seaming. Surely that would be a good thing, right?

I didn't go to bed until midnight, but at least I got enough done to see that the sleeves aren't too narrow....or at least that one of the sleeves is not too narrow, and that one side of the cardy fits me. Only one and a half side seams, a whole sleeve and a collar to sew on. *sigh*

No photos. No-one needs to see photos of this kind of misery.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Lady is a Tramp

Good girls go to heaven, Bad girls go everywhere. Mae West

I'm getting used to the lace on the February Lady Sweater and have gained enough confidence to start carrying it everywhere. I'm knitting lace while I wait at the dentist, on the bus, and at work in my lunch hour. On the weekend I took her to the open day at the Boy's school, and upon finding a mistake I couldn't fix in place, I tinked three rows on the walk home. (Yes, despite the fact that I'm blonde, I can tink and walk at the same time. It just slows me down a little)

I'm happy with how she's going. The body is now 36 cm long. I'm entertaining thoughts of getting it finished in time for an upcoming trip to Sydney but that might be a pipe dream. I've decided that I might do shorter sleeves and not sew the ends in well, so that I can rip out the garter stitch cuffs and complete the sleeves later. I expect to have lots of knitting time on Friday, the day of my colonoscopy as morning routine means that it's easier for me to be at the hospital an hour earlier than they need me.

I've started the low-fibre diet required for the preparation for the colonoscopy. I can eat various foods, including tomatoes and cucumbers, but I've had to cut the seeds out. There isn't much left of a cucumber after you've removed the seeds!

I also got the pieces of the cabled cardy washed and sort-of blocked. I've done the shoulders with 3-needle bind offs (the second one only took 7 attempts to get right!) and I've marked up one sleeve cap ready to be sewn in.

I finished my Sister's 30th birthday present last night also. Photos of that once I've given it to her, as I don't want to spoil the surprise.