Scrum: Two sleeves and a hat are better than 1.75 sleeves and a dream

Dang! The all-around enthusiasm level around Sucka SC is dangerously high. The knitting continues apace, I’m competing in the NorCal Grilled Cheese Invitational tomorrow in two categories, and I’m helping to establish a West Coast chapter of the Corduroy Appreciation Club and setting up an inaugural meeting on Nov. 11 (a date, 11|11, that looks like corduroy).

I like to think all this energy comes from working out lately at the gym right around the corner from my stellar new job, but a lot of the blame may lie with the steady stream of Diet Coke and chocolate-covered espresso beans I’ve been consuming while I work on a big chunk of the company Web site.

I’ve only been on the job for a few weeks, but the biggest skill I’ve had to learn is project management. Basically, my boss replaced the company that had been maintaining the Web site with … well … me. We’re using a project tracker based on, as we discovered a bit after using it, scrum. It’s a style of project management influenced by rugby, with small teams, quick reactions and staggering amounts of communication. It’s intense, just like pretty much anything based on rugby is gonna be.

As I dive in, I’m starting to shed a lot of my bad habits. Procrastination, inaccurate deadlines, no idea of my progress, slacking — no time! Getting in the door on time is still an issue, since I can’t seem to drag my ass into work before 10 or 11 this week, but I cleared the late start with my boss so I can come in late and stay late, getting a solid two hours (or four, if I stay until 9 or 10 like I have been lately) at the end of the day where I can work without going to a meeting or having anyone IMing me, e-mailing me or showing up at my desk to ask me questions.

It’s working. I’m starting to get a clearer idea of how long things take to finish, how much work actually goes into something, how to revise expectations to fit my workload, and how long I can work on something before staring at it starts to drive me nuts. It also trashes the idea of arbitrary deadlines: instead of deciding how long something will take, you start doing it, and it’s done when it’s done. If you clear other work out of the way, it’s done faster. If there’s more going on, it slows down. End of story.

I’m seeing the payoff in my knitting now. The Simple Knitted Bodice now has two sleeves. It also, after a bit more work, has two sleeves of the same length. The next chunk of work — the next sprint, in scrum terms — is the torso below the lace band in the middle. It has been officially set aside until I can knock out another Molly — a smaller, faster project that will make me feel less like I’m plugging away at the sweater that will not end. Overall progress has slowed down, but my knitting rate is undimished.

Plus, it’s a pleasure to knit Molly again. I think it’s my favorite of my hat patterns. The Noro “Silk Garden” is so pretty that strangers on BART compliment it all the time when I knit on the ride home, and this pattern sets it off just right. The brioche rib is also soothing, simple, and goes along incredibly quickly. Noticing that nudges my confidence upward a little, too: none of the other two-color brioche-rib patterns, especially ones knitted in the round, can say the same. Working on this simple but striking hat makes me proud.

And, thanks to the hypnotic effect of my brioche rib technique, a little less nuts.