A conflict of interest

06/03/2007
In my chosen profession it’s not uncommon to come across a conflict of interest – I’m a solicitor (or as I am reliably informed “a shark” in American). Conflicts between what the client ought to do and what the client wants to do or conflicts between two clients who have decided that now would be the perfect time to pick a fight with each other and what’s more they both want us to deal with it. As a professional body we have very clear guidelines about what to do in those particular situations (sadly put the lot of them in a room, lock the door and give them PowerPoint presentations until they sort it out is not one of them).

As a yarn-obsessed knitter by night/train/any time I’m not working I also encounter a number of “knitting conflicts” – should I do the washing up or a bit more on my sweater? should I go to the farm for food or just work out an extremely cunning method of finishing the neckband of my sweater?

So my query is – what are the protocol rules for such conflicts of interest?

By way of exhibit A I give you the finished Refined Raglan:

(NB the odd splotches are the camera not the jumper)

Finished on Saturday morning when I should have been going to the farm for some food but it kept raining and I wanted to wear the sweater. More details below.

My current conflict is between my house and my yarn. Somewhere under my yarn and H’s sports equipment we have a house. It is a very nice house and we love it very much. H is away this week on a training course and I therefore have the opportunity to make the house very tidy (and possibly in the process convince H that the mess is from the sporty things and not the yarn – yeah right who am I kidding).

Alternatively I have four evenings of uninterrupted knitting.

I think (and I can scarcely believe I am saying this) that parts of the house may win but only because, as I told myself yesterday, I have nothing on the needles. In fact ‘nothing’ consists of a pair of socks I am test knitting for a friend and my pink Aimee which I am hiding ostensibly until Project Spectrum comes round to pink (April/May) and really because I had finally found the perfect pattern for the blue alpaca and really really wanted the sweater!

So, turning to the Law Society for guidance on what to do:

“You must not act if there is a conflict of interests”

Fair enough – don’t act – the least action I can possibly take it to curl up on the sofa so that sounds like knitting to me.

You may act for two or more clients in relation to a matter in situations of conflict or possible conflict if: the different clients have a substantially common interest in relation to that matter or a particular aspect of it”


Now the common interests of the knitting and the house are:
– keeping the knitter warm (hmm that jumper)
– keeping H warm (with woolly socks)
– keeping the knitter sane (anything with pointy sticks)
– keeping H sane (a sane wife)
I’ve left out the requirement for consent in writing because the knitting (to date) cannot write. The house can write – it makes patterns with dust bunnies and cobwebs – mostly saying “clean me”.

Conclusion would seem to be that I should do both and so I shall try but if all else fails I shall fall back to the position that if there is a conflict the basic rule is the person who instructs you first gets to retain you. My grandmother taught me to knit very badly as a small child (not sure exactly when but I was still sharing a room with my sister so pretty tiny) and I didn’t get a real house that I owned until I was 25 so the knitting wins hands down on that one.

I’ll let you know how I get on but I submit to you (“m’lud”) that give a lawyer a blog page and the possibility of knitting she can justify anything!

Now on to the jumper … It is gorgeous DK weight Alpaca, it took 2 weeks to knit and it smells like my grandmother’s house probably because of the cedar balls I had in the yarn while it was in storage.

I made very few refinements to the pattern (Refined Raglan from IK Winter 2006), I dropped a needle size (by 0.5mm) to get a better fabric and a smaller gauge. I think I would get perfect gauge if 4.25 mm needles existed but I used 4mm and got the fitted look I was going for. It has yet to be blocked so there is a possibility of massive growth/shrinkage although the swatch turned out fine.

I added a few inches to the body and the sleeves because they were a bit short and finally I did cunning things to the neck – the pattern says to bind off and then whip stitch the bound off edge to the inside of the neckband. I tried that but my bind off edge was too tight so I undid it and replaced it with a sort of Kitchener attempt – sewing the live stitches to the neckband edge with a bit of inspiration and guidance from Agnes’ blog post on her husband’s sweater – thank you Agnes.

The photo is very bad but the jumper is very good – I finished it Saturday lunchtime and wore it for the rest of the weekend – testament indeed to the power of knitting over housework!