something blue

so i went back to work today after three days off with the flu. i dont like being sick but i do like the way everything slows down when you are, the way nothing seems to matter anymore, even the way people at work who normally want something done now suddenly realise they can, in fact, wait. i have a very supportive work environment, very generous leave provisions, but even so it was weird to go back today. everything felt a little surreal, and the computer screen hurt my eyes.

i have been thinking about work a lot lately. i dont have a normal fulltime academic appointment, and i am starting to wonder if i made the right decision not to pursue that path. i do have a research job, but it is partly administrative and partly research. i still get some of the benefits of an academic appt, like funds for travel and workload considerations for publications etc. i have some very interesting projects come across my desk, and i get to work with people i wouldnt normally. but a lot of the time i am not doing my own work, the work i spent all that time and energy on with my phd. i made that choice partly on purpose – i am most immediately qualified to teach history and i just dont love it anymore. its a very difficult subject to teach at university level, there is very little appreciation for its significance, there is almost no tolerance for theory, and the debate about what constitutes correct australian historiography continues to influence what and how we teach to a disproportionate degree. so i took a job that had the chance of taking my own theoretical work in a different direction. if we get the grant we just submitted, that will happen, and i get little chances to do my own thing every so often, but sometimes i wonder was it worth it? was the phd really worth all that blood, sweat and tears, all the angst, all the pressure and stress it bought to mine, and other peoples lives. just so i can call myself dr? really? is that all? dont get me wrong, im so lucky i have a job, and you never know where these things take you, but today its just left me feeling a little blue.

so i left early to come home and work on something that is actually blue, the featherweight cardigan. but first i thought, i will take some photos and show you how much ive done, because knitting is actually a contest and i need to beat bells. well, not really, but i have done a lot. i tried it on last night and its almost at my waist. so i go outside with the fancy camera and play around with light and exposure, and take some arty shots of it in its william morris bag from the v&a,

and then lay it on the porch and try and keep the puppy off it and then bring the camera to the computer and discover the joys of knitting with malabrigo:

this amount of knitting has taken two skeins of malabrigo lace in ‘paris night’. can you tell where the second skein starts? oh yes you can. i have not noticed this until now, in fact i would have sworn that there was no difference in the skeins (which i bought 4 of altogether, at the same time and from the same place). but now of course its all i see. im going to tell myself it doesnt matter, because its malabrigo and you get that, and no one will notice, and it really is beautiful yarn:

but i felt like maybe i might cry anyway. i put it all away and because its warm i filled up the paddle pool and played with the puppy, who, despite needing a face wash, make its almost impossible to be down for too long:

almost, but not quite. i was about to wind up the third skein and add some more length but im not sure i want to now. maybe i should just go back to bed instead.

k xx


About DrK

researcher, knitter, dog lover View all posts by DrK

20 responses to “something blue

  • bellsknits

    oh dear. Let’s start from the top.

    I think your PhD was worth it. I think you’re in the early days of your career and the bigger picture isn’t clear yet. Keep thinking; keep looking around; keep asking; you’ll get there.

    I admit I’m concerned about the malabrigo. I’m shocked. I don’t know enough about malabrigo to know if this is a common problem but man, that’s a pretty obvious change in colour. That said, because it changes at the start of the body, it’s quite possible that once it’s on, it’ll work. It’s not like you’ll end up with just the bottom inch in a different colour. It can almost be as if you’ve gone for two tones deliberately.

    Oh who am I kidding. That’s poor form. I think it’ll be fine but it’s disappointing. If you had the heart to do it, I would suggest ripping back and alternating skeins….but still…..

    Oh and HELLO RICCO!!

  • 2paw

    Something about your job, something about your cardigan, Oh A Puppy in a Paddle Pool!!!! A green paddle pool!!! This afternoon I had to make Lorelai Gilmore walk through the pool three times to clean her pool/dirt muddy paws. Then we could have a nap. Oh Ricco looks so beautiful, he’ll wash away your job and knitting worries!!

  • jen

    It becomes a design feature. Paris night: the lighter shade at the bottom is light reflecting in the River Seine while the dark night sky is above it. I don’t have any problem with that.

  • jen

    p.s. with the horizon embroidered in silver thread??

    that being said, I had the same thing happen with 2 skeins of hand dyed silk thread. 1 skein for the body of a triangular shawl and the second for the border. couldn’t see the difference till after it was knitted. i won’t frog, but maybe won’t wear the shawl either.

  • Ailsa

    That dog’s face is adorable.

    I have the flu too – but I’m putting up a good fight. It might be just sinusitis ..

    I know that the photograph will make it look more obvious than it is – and it isn’t really that obvious in the picture either. It really is fine – beautiful in fact – and I wouldn’t just say that to you either.

    You know the blood sweat and tears wasn’t just for the right to call yourself Dr. The sense of achievement must be fantastic – plus the project you’re working on has the ability to really change public policy/thinking. You may not be seeing tangible outcomes in your role, but this kind of research eventually forms cornerstones of society and it’s beliefs. At least that’s what I think – having squandered my own intelligence on a series of completely meaningless public servant jobs.

    Nice bag too.


    • drkknits

      you are too kind. but you arent squandered, its all important in its own way and academic work is very rarely any more important than any other kind of work. i just think sometimes we rate qualifications too highly when the job could get done without them!

  • kiwiyarns

    I liked your post. Something in the air this week I think. I wrote a similar post but haven’t published it yet.

    Don’t worry about the Mal. I think the way it graduates from dark to light is nice. 🙂

  • Rose Red

    I actually think it (the cardi) looks like you’ve done it on purpose – and I like it a lot! There’s no way I would frog that, I think it’s tops! (and if you really are worried about the change in colour, then you can make a feature of it by (say) sewing a ribbon around the body, where the change occurs.

    But I would alternate skeins for the sleeves, just to be sure…

    Now, as for the PhD, well, as the spouse of someone who also has done a PhD, but not really felt a benefit from it in a work related sense, I still say it’s worth it. Spending that amount of time focusing on a particular issue, and writing a bloddy long thesis as part of the process, demonstrates many skills and provides many learning opportunities (and not just in the academic sense). Even if you aren’t “using” it, you are always using it, if you know what I mean. And despite the dumbing down of so much of our society, to the people that matter (to you), knowing that you are a “real” Dr is way way cool, and much admired.

    And look at those puppy dog eyes!! Can’t fail to make you feel good.

  • Olivia

    Your job sounds nice and balanced to me, and it sounds like you have good reasons for not wanting to be a full time academic. The bloody hard work to get your PHD is part of your journey to who you are now, it’s about much more than just what job you have.

    As for the cardie, I assume it only shows in strong sunlight. It does look like a design feature. I would only be worried about what happens with the next skein! If it matches the last one, it will look lovely.

  • Olivia

    Oh and you made me laugh with ‘knitting is actually a contest’. Plus I have a puppy-crush on Ricco. Nobody tell my dogs.

  • LynS

    I’m not sure where to start. The cardi? I actually like having colour disjunctions with hand-dyed yarns. I think it adds interest. Who says the colour has to be consistent across a garment? It’s not as if the yarn is a solid colour where it would look odd – you’ve already got variation of color within each skein and this is just another variation at a different level. So, I wouldn’t unravel it, and I would wear it. And I would think it looked good.

    PhDs? What to say? I decided many years ago not to do one, but I’m surrounded by friends and family who did choose that path. When people are dithering about whether to do one the advice I always give is that you should do a PhD (a) if you want a career in academia or think you might want a career in academia. Nowadays, having a PhD makes things so much more straight-forward in academic life. It’s still possible to succeed without one, but you’re always on the back foot. And (b) you should do a PhD if you are passionately interested in the subject. Passion can rarely be sustained across the dreariness of final writing-up, but it can sustain you for a long time. If both (a) and (b) apply, how fortunate you are.

    It sounds to me as if you are still interested in a career in academia – you just don’t quite know how to shape it yet. The PhD gives you flexibility of choice you wouldn’t otherwise have. There’s also a trend to give greater value to interdisciplinary study and research, and it seems to me you would be well-placed to take advantage of such a trend.

    I don’t know anything about dogs.

  • Annie

    Cheer up, you did what you wanted to do at the time, and maybe at this time is seems all a waste, but nothing is a waste if you enjoyed it regardless of whether you are enjoying it now. Things change all the time we just don’t know what is around the corner, each day is a new adventure (I am trying to convince myself of that one). It would have been good to share my champagne with you the other night, might have cheered you up a bit. The puppy will always make your day, they are just so wonderful at doing that for people. Your knit looks nice, I am a bit with you on I would have cried, but it is the way that yarn is and so that is the way the garment is going to be. See it isn’t all that bad after all. Keep smiling.

  • Anna

    PhD’s are worth it. My husband did his not too long into us being married and is now working in a completely different field. Even so, it was still definitely worth the time, distraction, frustrations and sense of achievement at the end! Many people don’t get the academic world – that you spend so long studying for little tangible (financial) reward, but I think it’s often a big difference in priorities and values. Even if you decide at some stage to completely change career paths, it’s still worth the experience, and the development of your ability to think.

    I think I’d be hyperventilating over the skein change. My knitting inexperience means that I struggle to see the beauty in the imperfections at this stage because I’m obsessed with getting things ‘right’! But it is beautiful. I hope you find the motivation to do what you decide you need to do and finish it! (Unlike me, who I could imagine would put it in a bag and hide it for a very long time!) xx

  • shellauw

    First things first – the PhD. Don’t you EVER think it wasn’t worth it. The PhD, as I’ve been told, so often now is more than just the research – its the process of coping with everything else that happens that either makes you stronger or breaks you – and quite clearly, it make you a stronger nd more confident person.

    As somebody a few years behind you in the whole process… I’m currently looking at jobs that have nothing to do with my PhD. That’s because I will never find one… and I know I can do so much more. I’ve nearly finished (the hard yards are still ahead), but too, my love for the general topic is/has left me. I can do research and I can do admin. I guess that’s what I’m going to get out of it at the end. If that makes me or breaks me… well, that’s another story then, isn’t it?

    As for the Malabrigo… I actually thought it looked quite pretty… and that it had pooled like that due to the shoulder shaping, etc. The colour change is there, but not too dramatic on my monitor anyway. Frogging isn’t an option, I know… but I like it…. (And I’m currently lusting over your Morris bag…).

    I hope you’re feeling better and less blue. If you’re feeling stuck, then see what else is out there… you never know, do you?

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