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Week 17: 10 – 16 November

Do you ever have one of those weeks when everything seems to go wrong? When it’s not just a question of your train being delayed (because they couldn’t find a driver – thank you so much First Great Western’s so-called 15.00 Plymouth to Taunton service) or a document disappearing from your file server (everyone agrees that it shouldn’t be possible, but it was) – but also of people wilfully misinterpreting your comments and choosing to take offence … offence which they then spell out in emails running to several sides of A4 paper, in carefully numbered points (1-11, go on, count them), and copied to just about every senior manager in the South West.

No? Well, then, welcome to my world these last few days. (I seem to recall Abraham Lincoln in one of history’s great quotes, referring to one of his Civil War generals, after yet another stunning defeat, walking round like “a duck that’s been hit on the head with a shovel” – well, that was me this week.)

Despite all that, I still managed to finish off the cuff (again, casting off following the knit 2/purl 2 ribbing sequence), which looks quite nice when it’s folded back; and, after a few days staring at the pullover like a cat sizing up an indolent emu – and knocking back a beer for Dutch courage – I gritted my teeth and picked up the stitches all round the other sleeve.

What a grim task it is! I approach it with all the jollity of a surgeon forced to amputate his own arm. And yet, the funny thing is, it’s never as bad as I think it’s going to be (is that true? Well, possibly): this time it took me just over 45 minutes, which is pretty good going really.

The main challenge, I find, is ensuring an even spacing of stitches up the length of the armhole. I think it’s all because you can’t knit stitches perfectly square: there are more stitches vertically (about 12 to the inch) than horizontally (9-10 to the inch). So if you try to pick up a stitch round the arm for every horizontal stitch that exists (which is a deceptively easy trap to fall into, ahem), you suddenly find you’ve picked up most of your allocation and you’re barely halfway there. Anyone who looks too closely at this latest effort of mine may find lotsofcrampedstitches in one spot, followed by some that are really s-p-a-c-e-d o-u-t…

Well, I daresay it’s close enough for jazz, as the saying is.

No time to pursue the exciting question of identifying drowned sailors this week – that’ll have to wait till next week. See you then!

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