The shame part: I'm sorry I've been away from the blogosphere. I spent the best part of two weeks shut away in the attic with my books and no time for knitting. I decided to leave the blog until I had some progress to report, and I regret to say that I was simply too jealous of everyone with time to knit to look at any other blogs (I'm just catching up now; you've all been extremely busy). Then, once I'd done a decent amount of work and could have picked up the needles again, I managed to cause the pain part of this post:
The bandage is covering a cut resulting from a very exciting accident involving a reversing bus, a parked van, a helpful neighbour (me) running to fetch the van's owner, and a pothole, in which the aforementioned helpful neighbour (me) tripped, breaking my fall with the heel of my hand (irony bonus: the bus was reversing because of roadworks to fix the potholes). Upside: I had medical instructions to leave the kids' baths and the washing up to my partner for a week. Downside: it hurt quite a lot and I couldn't knit or type either. But on Friday, I could take the bandage off, and by yesterday evening, I was halfway through the yoke of Matilda Jane.
I nearly started on something else entirely. I was sulking around, feeling fed up with everything I was working on and wishing for something brainless and satisfying (besides ripping). "A simple top-down raglan cardigan!" I thought. My next thought was to design it myself, and the thought immediately after that was that I had absolutely no intention of doing more thinking than necessary while my higher brain functions are supposed to be devoted to the nineteenth century novel. So I poked about on the internet and I priced up Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece and looked at the Knitting Pure and Simple patterns, and thought that actually I'd like something a bit less simple, and so I sulked for a bit longer.
And then I remembered the Matilda Jane pattern, and the bag of Rowan Wool Cotton that arrived last week for a prospective Fair Isle project, and suddenly I was knitting again. Matilda Jane is just the right pattern for now. It's thoroughly addictive: I ended up leaving it on the kitchen table and knitting a few rows every time I went in to do something. It uses short rows to shape the neck, and lifted increases for the raglan shaping. This is the first time I've used that increase, and I love it: it's so neat and satisfying, and somehow working into the back of a stitch gives me the feeling of knowing the intimate life of my knitting. It's also the first time I've used short rows without making a hell of a mess. (Disclosure: there is a bit of a mess, and despite close attention to the big VK book, I'm never totally sure that I'm doing them right, but for now I'm happy enough that there are no holes.)