Thursday, September 10, 2009

Furlough day

Well, here I am. At home. Not teaching.

I don't think I much like it.

I think that if I had the kind of job where what I do can only be done in my office (and assuming that I could, as I am, handle the pay cut part of this), it would be easier to try to make myself see these furlough days as time off. To make myself really take them as a break and go to the beach or do something fun. But let's be honest. My job isn't and never has been the kind of job that it's easy to shut the door on. A lot of what I do (like much of my research) can only be done at times that aren't during the traditional work week, and I'm used to fitting the rest of what must be done into the interstices of a work week whose areas of intensity vary almost constantly. One week it's all meetings, all the time; the next it's all about grading. So it's hard to not work during furlough days, in no small part because I can't figure out what work not to do. None of what I do is the sort of thing of which I can say, I'll get this done but it'll take longer and be later. At fifteen weeks, there's a hard stop. I can't just not have my grading done by then because I've been on furlough.


So I knit. And knit and knit. Unfortunately, most of what I'm knitting has now entered into what I think of as The Middle Place. This is not The Waiting Place (that would be the place where you knit and knit and knit and nothing ever seems to happen, in fact whatever it is that you're knitting is getting actively shorter when you're not looking). No, this comes before that, right after you've cast on for a project and you've made a little bit of progress and that's all very exciting and photogenic and bloggable. But then you get to the spot where you're still enjoying the project, you don't have any urges whatsoever to stomp on it, or turn it into a bird's nest, or to send it, needles and all, to outer Mongolia to see if they might have more fun with it than you're having; no, you're still enjoying it just fine. But it's sort of like the stage that most of us hit somewhere in high school where we were all potential and no glory -- pimples and glasses and braces and greasy nose (it can't have been just me?) -- the year that you deliberately "lost" your yearbook so you'd never have to look at that picture of yourself again. That's The Middle Place. It's not a bad place to be, it's just not a place that you want to take pictures of to send to all of your friends.

That's where just about every one of my knitting projects is right now. Except the one that I cast on last night that I can't show you yet. Sorry.

Just when I thought that I'd have to send you away with nothing (since I'm hoping that something interesting will happen with my knitting before I have to show you pictures of it with a goofy hairdo and bad clothes), I realized that I'd never shown you any pictures at all of the plain ol' boring stockinette socks I'm knitting for Rick. Hooray for delinquent blogging!
There it is. You won't believe what I did, though. We all know how ginormously huge Rick's feet are, so I always worry that I won't make his socks long enough. However, in my attempts to avoid that particular pitfall, I overcorrected, and this sock is about 3/4 of an inch too long. How do I do these things? And why is it that the phrase "You can't win for trying" seems to be my mantra these days? (I have this in my office, a gift from a boss who totally gets that sometimes you've got to laugh to keep from crying; it seems appropriate these days. If you have a dark sense of humor, you should totally go check out that site.)
I'm trying something new with these socks. As you can see, Rick's feet are shaped funny (don't tell him I said so, but it's true). So I decided to knit these toe-up (to maximize yarn usage) and to change my increases from the toe a little bit. I increased about half the number of stitches that I needed to add in the usual way, adding four per row every other row. I then stopped increasing on one side of the foot, and only increased on the other, adding two stitches every other row. This shape much more closely matches the shape of Rick's feet. This isn't something I've needed to try with my socks, as I have very square feet, but I think it's going to make his socks that much more comfortable.

Next time there will be more deliquent blogging in the form of pictures from our trip last weekend to the tidepools at Point Loma. Meanwhile, keep knitting...

Edited to add: Looky here! Fun story with quotes from Betchen Barber (I still want to be her when I grow up). Of course the NPR reporter says something about string not being so humble as we thought it was. Whaddaya mean "we", dude?


Helen said...

I think my navy ribbed top is already in The Middle Place and I've only knitted two inches of it. There's a l-o-n-g way to go.

But it's good to know that ancient peoples liked turquoise, makes me think of them even more highly :)

Mary Lou said...

That Despair Inc is so great, I'd forgotten about it. I may have to order a few items. I am at the middle place and waiting place in several projects, I love your description of that.

Bea said...

I like those socks a lot, but I'm a fan of plain socks. The middle place is not a bad place to be. Sounds like the furlough place might be.

Rachel said...

Middle Place - great name and description!

How did you make the heels of that sock? it looks very interesting to me.

Wanderingcatstudio said...

I have a very bad tendency to work on my days off... being a writer with a computer always within a few feet, it tends to happen. The only time it has ever bothered last winter when I was off for my back. I have two editors... one of which feels that as editor, she has passed the point where she has to actually write anything (she's the only editor I've ever worked with who's had this attitude.) She called me when I could barely move myself off the couch, and had the nerve to ask me to do a phone interview and write a story for her... how can I do that? i can't even sit at a computer for more than five minutes...
I love the colour of those socks, nice rich brown, reminds me of dessert!

Carrie K said...

It's a non knitter thing. Humble. Ha.

The Middle Place! Lots of my projects are there. I love that you made Rick's sock too long.

Isn't it fun to drop & fix cables? I did that during intermission at a play once, to the admiration/consternation of onlookers.

Alas, furlough days. "They" want you to work. Unpaid. Without air.

twinsetellen said...

Oh, I heard that story on NPR tonight and it is almost as exciting as your sock shaping. No, I am not being snide. I find them both entrancing.

Anonymous said...

I heard the 30,000 year old string story on NPR this afternoon and thought of you. I liked that they dyed the string turquoise and pink.

Teaching (or really the political BS that is my out of the classroom life) has turned my brain to mush.

Take care. Be sane. Good luck.

EGunn said...

Heh. Maybe the faculty should agree to take that furlough day this semester. And maybe weekends, too. And if grades aren't done, at the end of the quarter, grades aren't done. The students are educated, and you've done all that you can.

Leave it to academic administration to give you a 10% pay cut, 15 more students, and a "day off" to make up for it. Makes me angry.

The sock, on the other hand, is quite happy-making. I love the colors, and stockinette socks are my favorite. =)
Branden's feet are that shape, too. Makes knitting the toe end take forever...

Willow said...

I'll go check out the link. The Professor 'enjoyed' his furlough day. Then on Labor Day he worked like crazy to catch up because he had students waiting to find out if they had tested out of his class (computer literacy).

I am forcing my way through a Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket that has been languishing in the middle place.

Off to see what Betchen has to way.

Darcys Knotty Knitter said...

Thankyou for your words of encouragement on my battle with my weight.I'm struggling with a shawl I'm knitting I keep forgetting to do the kfb on the end of the row and have to frog rows but I will eventually knit the shawl to completion.Hugs Darcy

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the morning laugh - that Disaster picture is a hoot. So true.

The admin's way of handling the financial crisis is a flagrant rip-off. For students (and whomever is footing the bills), and the dedicated teachers. They know very well that a competent teacher will be compelled to work on "furlough".

Heart-wrenching Travesty.

Alwen said...

My husband has finally picked up that string is important to me, enough so that he asked me if I had heard about the 30,000-year-old-string.

I was fascinated by the way they found it, looking for pollen. The microscope, it's wonderful.

Lynne said...

Oh I so get that "middle bit" thing. I enthusiastically cast on an entrlac/freeform/Fassett-style blanket and I've just passed half way, so I'm just passed the mid-term! I'm in to the "this-is-never-going-to-end-so-why-am-I-knitting-it-when-I-could-be-working-on-something-else" stage!.

Gwen said...

Sometimes, I'm more likely to answer my work phone on a vacation day than while I'm working. Why is that?

And furlough days only really make sense for jobs that are paid hourly/daily, not jobs that are 'get this stuff done during this time period.' Grumble.

RobinH said...

I have a professor friend who has to force herself to not work more than 30 hrs a week in the summers- when she's not getting paid...the whole furlough thing stinks.

Very cool link, thank you! I missed hearing that one on the radio.