Sunday, 2 September 2012

The new normal

It's surprising how quickly a new set of circumstances can become normal.  Even though it's only been a week.  My new normal is getting up about 8am, drinking 2 or 3 cups of tea while I either knit in front of morning property television shows or sit in front of the PC looking at my email and job ads, fielding calls from recruiting agencies, attending interviews, planning and making interesting meals for supper, sewing, and working with DS on university research and applications.  You will note that housework is absent from this list...

I had another interview on Wednesday up in London, for a six month contract position with a government body.  Which is scary as I have no experience in that area nor any knowledge about politics, but the interview seemed to go well and I have since heard that I am shortlisted with one other person.  I also visited a recruitment agency for a far more taxing grilling by one of the consultants for 45 minutes, and both she and the original agency have sent me through a few other contract jobs for consideration. The job market is definitely more buoyant than it was last time I was job searching at the end of 2009.

This week I machine knit the back, two fronts, and two sleeves for my Cityscape cardigan adaptation, a design by Laura Chau that was published in Twist Collective Fall 2010 and that has been in my queue for a while.  It took me quite a while to get ready to knit, but the actual machine knitting was quite straightforward. I am knitting this in Valley Yarns 'Northfield', a luxurious blend of 70% Merino, 20% Alpaca, 10% Silk that I bought at WEBS on our New England holiday.  I love this yarn!  It is so soft and pettable, and yet springy and full bodied.  After several tension samples, I have settled on Tension 0 on the Brother 260 Chunky machine which gave me the required 24st gauge.  The row gauge was out, but I was modifying the length of the body and sleeves anyway, plus blending together a large size at the bottom and a smaller size in the upper body, so I had to spend a couple of hours with a calculator to work out a new pattern.  I did the main stockinette sections flat on the machine, then hand knit an i-cord bindoff on the body and sleeves, then seamed the sleeves and picked up to knit the yoke by hand.  The original pattern steeks the cardigan, I am only steeking the yoke to avoid having to do fair isle flat.

Before I got as far as picking up for the yoke, TV knitting was the Eyelet Jumper, where I have begun the sleeve cap shaping on the first sleeve.  Commuter knitting on interview day was the Japanese Stitch Sock, and in fact they kept me waiting in the lobby for 20 minutes when I was having to fight the urge to get my sock out again - I felt it wouldn't look very professional to be caught knitting when they came to collect me.

On the quilting front, I have now pieced all eight strip sets for the Lone Star, and now face the incredibly tedious task of piecing the diamonds. Tedious because there are seven seam intersections to perfectly match on each seam, which can take me several trial and error attempts, and eight strips to join into each diamond. I don't even want to think about how many seam matches that is going to be.

I've also started stitching down the binding on the vintage Lone Star that I quilted on my frame last year.

Yesterday we travelled to the Olympic Park to see some of the Paralympics.I don't know how much of the Olympic ticketing fiasco hit the news in other countries, but it was a farcical and deeply flawed process that prevented most people from acquiring tickets.  We didn't even try, but when the Paralympic tickets were released, there were day passes to the park on sale for a very reasonable £10 and I was able to purchase three of those.

The first order of business, after planning the travel, was to work out what craft project to take.  They had promised airport-style security, which turned out to be literally true, so I didn't want to risk taking any knitting.  I thought cross-stitch might be too fiddly, and then I remembered what I used to take on planes before I learned to knit:  tatting.  And sure enough I still had an ancient WIP in a drawer:  a hankerchief edging.

It had been so long since I tatted that I don't think I could have demonstrated to anyone how to do it.  But when I picked it up and just let my hands do the thinking, they still remembered how to turn the stitch!  So on the train and during some of the sports, I tatted another few inches of this edging. Tatting is more nerve wracking than knitting because if you make a mistake, it can be more difficult (and sometimes impossible) to undo what are essentially knots in this fine thread.

So we had a straightforward but lengthy trip to Stratford, where we were greeted by armies of energetic pink-costumed volunteers who directed the human crocodile of spectators into the Olympic Park.  The Park was absolutely huge, 2.5 acres, a rather daunting ocean of asphalt and food kiosks interspersed with large buildings where the sports were taking place.  The day pass lets you just wander around, so we had a bit of a walk around for a while to soak up the atmosphere, but soon got tired of walking and walking because there wasn't much atmosphere to soak up.  I expect when the Olympics were on, it was probably more crowded and more of a party atmosphere amongst the crowd.  I thought there would be more to look at in terms of artwork and exhibitions and performances - there was some of that but not very much.  It was very well signposted, which was good because the maps they gave out were pretty rubbish, and there were ample food kiosks, water fountains, toilets, and shops selling souvenirs. Our pass let us into four venues on a first come / first served basis, and we managed to get into three of them.  We saw some 7-a-side football in the Riverbank Arena, some wheelchair tennis in Eton Manor, and watched Team GB beat Brazil at wheelchair basketball in the basketball arena. It was interesting to see in person the venues we had been seeing on television.  I'm not that into sport (well, not at all in fact) but it was amazing to see the lightning maneuvering and wheelchair bashing going on during the basketball game, more of a contact sport than it is normally I think.  I also took my Union Jack knitted handbag to wave when TeamGB scored, just to get into the spirit of things.

Coming home took twice as long as we were very unlucky with the trains, so DS (who hadn't wanted to go in the first place and doesn't care that it is a once in a lifetime event) was very cross about his 'whole day being wasted'.  Teenagers.

As I had 'wasted' three hours of my Friday compiling tips and advice on writing his Personal Statement for his university application, which he should have done himself months ago instead of wasting his entire summer playing online games with his friends, I was not sympathetic.  And today I get to roust him out of bed to drag him out to buy him new suits for his school year and new school supplies.  Oh yay!  can't wait...

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