pretend productive.

Let me explain: I did spend a few hours on my writing yesterday, but in a “pretend productive” kind of way — you know, the kind of productive where you don’t actually increase the word count. Now, I would argue that one of the challenges in grad school — and really, academia more broadly — involves coming to terms with what it means to be productive. Sometimes, even when I don’t write anything down, I do some really important thinking that makes it possible for me to write something  substantial when I return to the project. That’s not what I mean by “pretend productive.”

“Pretend productive” is when you read comments you’ve received on drafts, track down citations, request books that you know you should look at from the library, rearrange the piles or files you’re working from…and then (and this is key) derive a false sense of accomplishment from these tasks — and stop working.

I was “pretend productive” yesterday. I don’t really have pictures of what that looks like, but I think you get the idea. I do have pictures of fibery productivity, though.

First, my friend H (you may remember her as the recipient of the purple ishbel/springtime bandit brokeknits mash-up wedding shawl) came over to make applesauce and do some knitting. Boh assumed his supervisory role, and did a very good job of keeping our feet warm.

As you can see, this hat is way too big for me — which is a good thing! It should be perfect for my dad. (Apologies for the blurry photos.)

This is the largest size of the seaman’s cap, knitted even longer than the pattern called for, and made out of my handspun — Southern Cross Fibres polwarth, spun as a worsted weight 3-ply. (I still have about 80 yards left, so I may try to incorporate stripes into mittens or a manly cowl or something. We’ll see.)

H. asked me to show her how my wheel works, and because I had emptied all of my bobbins, we had to decide what I would spin next. I decided on the second 4 oz. of Crown Mountain Farms Superwash Merino in Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, spun as a fatter 2-ply. I started it to show H., and found it so captivating that late last night, I made myself a cup of hot cocoa and kept going.

I am in love with this, and all I want to do right now is spin the second bobbin. Alas, today I MUST be “real” productive. I received some great advice last night about how to get work done when there is really fun knitting in the house: lock it in the car. I may have to banish the second bobbin’s worth of fiber to the backseat today…

Stay tuned for pictures of the buttons that perfectly answered yesterday’s personal ad, as well as (I hope) a triumphant report about my productivity…

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7 thoughts on “pretend productive.

  1. Boh looks quite concerned about the “pretend productivity” ;)

    I loved that first paragraph. So much. This and a discussion with a good friend are making me feel so much better about my knit/design “pauses” – not that I’m in any way comparing my knitting to a phd please!! But acknowledging that sometimes I need to stop the actual activity and think about it more conceptually and in detail. And when I do, things seem to fall into place a little easier.

    Though, I’m thinking that pretend productivity is a part of the process too. Giving your brain a total break before coming back at it… and maybe being able to see it differently or find the sticking point you couldn’t see before… or maybe I’m justifying ;)

    Thinking about the way my brain operates lately ;)

  2. I’ve definitely had days like that, where all I do is rearrange things and then I stop working. It’s okay, though; you needed it, and now you’ll get a ton done. At least you did something :)

  3. You mean all that organizing and related activities aren’t really productive? Darn it, that means half of what I do at work most days isn’t really work. Oh well.

  4. Hmmm… what you call “pretend productive” I call a necessary evil! Until I’m faculty and get my own RA, those tasks are awfully necessary. I find it hard to think straight when my desk hits disaster stage.

    Sounds like a great day of spinning and knitting, and your dad should love the hat! I’m at home in MN right now and my dad was just wearing a hat I knit him while snowblowing the driveway. Warms my heart to see him in it!

  5. That dog has the sweetest face in the world. Seriously.

    I remember that pretend productivity in university. It still happens now that I’m working, too. Nobody can be full-blown productive all the time, anyway. Except that girl Jen I went through school with who worked on projects 24/7 and liked to make the rest of us look bad. She later got an ulcer.

    Your Dad will love his hat! Yay for CMF LitSwD!!

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