Troubles

I was going to tell y’all about an experience I had as a 5 year old, but in doing research for it I came across all kinds of scandals and possibilities of what happened to me then. Before I can write about it I need to digest it and do some further research.

Instead, here is Yowza (take a look at Rocky Ridge colorway!) my favorite new yarn despite my project mishap, an attempt at moebius knitting. My latest Yowza came from Stitches West, here’s a picture of it all wound up.

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This is a sad story. Zooming along to the end of the cowl, no, let me get back to the beginning. With moebius knitting after casting on, there comes the moment of doing one twist, at least in my project. You know, take a strip of paper, twist one end once and tape together, voila, the moebius. Of course you could twist that strip of paper several times, and though it wouldn’t be pretty, it still can be done. Take a look at Cat Bordhi doing the knitting moebius so well.

After casting on hundreds of stitches, it becomes difficult to tell how many times you twisted your cast-on stitches. But with my usual bravado, not a good thing, I promise, I showed faith and knit on.

This is my usual m.o. with knitting: faith. I can’t imagine where it comes from. Sometimes it’s my dislike of the swatch. Other times it’s pure denial. I can’t be the only one who has this voice practically screaming into her ear that there’s a mistake and to measure or take a second look, or read the pattern again. Do I ever listen? Only when the voice shouts lies.

This is one of those times when it shouted a lie. At first the calm voice said to double check, make sure I didn’t do two twists. I ignored that voice because it would have meant starting over and I didn’t want to do that. At these points I’m not sure what my expectations are. Do I believe in magic? And not only do I believe in magic, but that I can make it happen?

As I was coming to the end, I had to face the parade, or is it face the music? Or face my knitting. Well, here it came, the loud voice: you screwed up, you should have checked, this is not working out!!! I so badly wanted the voice to stop screaming at me, I did the only thing I knew to stop it: pulled out the needles and started unraveling.

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Yes, I fell for it. As row after row was being undone a horrible realization washed over me, I had made no mistake at all. Now what? There was no going back or rather, no forward, all I could do was keep on unraveling and holding back tears.

And if this would have involved any other part of my life you could have committed me. Somehow with knitting I grow strong. Two days lost with knitting and nothing to show for it? No problem. The psychology of the situation is beyond me, perhaps someone should study it.

Me, I went to another skein and started another pair of socks. One sock done, another on the needles already. That didn’t go without sweat either. I’m using new yarn, for me. It has a very tight twist that might be a bit uncomfortable for a princess who feels the pea under 20 mattresses, but for the rest of us we like the twist and the sturdiness it produces in a sock. This yarn is from knitpicks and comes at a good price.

For non-knitters, it might come as a shock that I don’t blink at making socks where the yarn alone is $30. This money-friendly $11 skein has a drawback. It has only 357 yards. I’m more used to a 400-yard range and know I can comfortably knit any pattern and not worry about the length of the cuff or leg.

So what did I do? I knit a longer leg to test out the yarn. See how far it can go. What I had going for me is that the sock was for Liana who has the smallest foot size in the family, 7 1/2. The sweat pouring from me as I came to the toe of the sock could have alleviated the California drought. After having frogged the cowl, I would not be able to handle doing the same to the sock.

I’m not sure if the sock will fit her, but the yarn did last. Perhaps I should be looking around for someone with size 6 feet. It’s one of the rare times I used size 0 needles. Here’s a look at my experience with Hawthorne from knitpicks.

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Next time I’ll tell y’all about the real troubles in our lives right now.

Postpartum

Often I work on several knitting projects at a time. This year I’ve been focused on socks only. OK, yesterday I started a baby hat, but even that makes just 2 projects on the needles.

So now that the socks were done today, I get this feeling of loss, feeling disoriented, not knowing where to turn. I pace around the house without a purpose. Every yarn I try to swatch with is wrong, wrong, wrong. At the same time I have no head for a complicated pattern.

Sleeping on it might help. But for now I am a rebel without a cause.

Ahead of Resolution

Remember the New Year? Remember all the good intentions and resolutions? How many have you broken 3 months into the year?

Guess what? I win! Broke none of my resolutions, ok, I admit, there was only one.

But don’t worry, I have lost in many other ways. Including family so pissed off at me that I am told of “rifts” that “will never be bridged.”

Some of you might know about the Bassya Bibel website I have created, mostly featuring Bassya’s love letters I’ve found. Bassya was Stephen’s grandmother. With Passover and the seder coming up, I was trying to think of something nice to bring along for the family.

Last year I brought all the photo albums and slides no one was interested in at the time of the grandfather’s death. The great grandkids seemed to have their fun with the old photos. This year I contemplated bringing everyone a piece of furniture or another trinket I have from the grandparents.

But then it hit me. A web site! I had already posted some of the letters on facebook and the responses were tremendous. This way everyone could get to know Bassya a little better, especially at an age none of us knew her, most of us not having been born yet.

I could not have been more wrong. I think in all my life I have never been shat upon with such huge, stinky piles.

So you see, no reason to be jealous about meeting my resolutions. I failed big in other ways.

One pair of socks a months and I am ahead of the game. I’ve already posted the very colorful pair I made for January. February was a sock variation. A huge sock that will be felted into slippers. That counts, right? Right? I know it takes a lot less knitting, but come on, February is a short month after all.

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Along came March and without meaning to match that month, the socks were green. This is the very basic sock pattern I use when uninspired and there is no need for a pattern.

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Rushing into April with a pair of Nutkin pattern socks. One sock done, one still on the needles. I love this pattern. It’s not very stretchy and the only difficulty is at the top when the knitting gets folded over and you have to knit together the stitch on the needle and one from the cast-on. If you’re even off by one stitch here, things become a bit twisty.

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If I wouldn’t have my knitting, I don’t know how I could master and survive this post-heart-attack-and-bypass life. The stress the family controversy puts on my heart is immense, and I can feel it. A tightness in the chest, heart beating fast and hard. Having already lost part of the heart, I worry how much more is going down the drain. But then I pick up the knitting and slowly, slowly my muscles start relaxing and I am flowing along with the stitches. 

 

 

 

Stitches West

Days, weeks, even months I had been looking forward to Stitches West. A huge yarn extravaganza in Santa Clara with about 350 vendors, classes, people, parties, joy, happiness, and what have you. And did I say YARN?

Stitches West can be many things, depending on the experience you seek. Will it be a wild party? A shopping trip? A learning experience? Meeting up with old friends? Making new friends?

To be honest, I did not feel too well during the weeks prior, but I thought being there would take care of all that and put me in a good mood. After all, it’s YARN! What’s not to like about it, and how could it not put me into a good mood?

Once there, I fell into the category of efficient consumer. In and out!

Entering, the ticket lines were really short, the line for getting into the most hallowed of halls a bit long but moving at good speed. As soon as I crossed the threshold, I was overcome by the immensity and the crowds, feeling like I could actually pass out.

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Nice people, not the crazy Black Friday crowd where one has to fear for one’s life as seen on TV. All very polite, just a lot of them.

With a handy map and Stephen’s helpful legend personalized for me the night before, I ignored my surroundings. Goal-oriented, I headed to the first booth, then the next, and the next, and the next. But what was going on, no one was where we had marked them to be? Had I entered the Twilight Zone? I started feeling woozy and disoriented, and overcome with it all.

I had to get my bearings if I was to make it through and actually buy some yarn. From last year I remembered Dragonfly Fibers and headed in that general direction. Eureka! I left their booths with the first two gorgeous skeins.

Big Apple AKA My Bloody Valentine, Dragon Sock
Big Apple AKA My Bloody Valentine, Dragon Sock
Damsel, color Riptide, a sport weight
Damsel, color Riptide, a sport weight

There was a problem that kept on repeating. Many of the various colorways of the indie dyers were already in my stash at home. My taste had not changed all that much from last year, so I kept on picking up the same color and putting it back because I knew exactly where on the shelf I would find it at home.

I tried the map again. And this time I figured it out. When I’d googled the Stitches West map I made unfortunate assumptions. So what I was holding in my hands was a map from 2013.

After a trip to the information booth and a new, updated booklet with map and all, I was on my way again. In no time I found The Verdant Gryphon and, with my next purchase complete, headed to Western Sky Knits and then on to Miss Babs, as usual the most crowded booth at the whole affair.

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From The Verdant Gryphon Booth

 

Western Sky Knits, Aspen Sock, color: wyldstyle
Western Sky Knits, Aspen Sock, color: wyldstyle
Magnolia Sock yarn: merino, cashmere, nylon
Magnolia Sock yarn: merino, cashmere, nylon

The above yarn is more squeezable than charmin toilet paper. And below see another sock yarn, it was a red kind of day.

Western Sky Knits Aspen Sock Yarn
Western Sky Knits Aspen Sock Yarn

After that, I took it easy. Went to the beginning and headed up and down the aisles just like I do at the grocery store. Then ate a snack I’d brought along and tried another up and down aisles. I felt like a personal shopper because I had promised a friend I’d look for a good black and purple, heavier than fingering yarn, with a tight twist.

Armed only with reading glasses for close-up yarn inspection, the world was a blur around me.

My Miss Babs loot: very, very modest.

Miss Babs Yowza, colorway: next to godliness
Miss Babs Yowza, colorway: next to godliness

And continuing with the red theme:

I fell for the yarn name: scarlet letter
I fell for the yarn name: scarlet letter

Without being facetious, it was basically the same shit as last year. No new yarn discoveries. I learned that indie dyers have a hard time getting a true black or a lovely purple.

My favorite yarn purchase is a color called Big Apple that I am renaming Bloody Valentine. These will make socks for me.

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Big Apple AKA My Bloody Valentine

There are not enough ways to look at these colors, but I try.

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OK, so this is not an apple tree but an apricot tree. Good enough?

 

 

Am I Back?

This has been the toughest New Year yet. On day three I started what I thought was a cold, but who really knows, and it is still haunting me. Now my bet is on allergies. After the big rain we’ve had here it should get better, right?

There was nothing to do for me as I was sniffling through the day, but knit and listen to Serial the podcast and stream Netflix. If you’re one of the 5 people who have not listened to the podcast, well, do as you like, I’m not going to recommend it, though I’m glad to be in the know.

Netflix just streamed by or through me or past me, I remember nothing. Probably a good thing.

I am obsessed with Asaf Avidan. Sure to get tired of him pretty soon as his songs all seem to derive from the same place, I still recommend a listen. Don’t be frightened by his voice, it can grow on you and he sure knows how to use it. And here it is, I have a weakness for male high voices, and he plays on that. A youtube where you can see and listen to him, a click away.

And if you want more of him, check out the NPR tiny desk concert. If you really want to indulge, do so here.

The knitting has not brought much joy. No excitement, but comfort. A few hats, fingerless mittens, socks, and finishing started projects.

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A photo from a niece in Germany inspired this little cowl. I bet it also could be used by a dog instead of a bandana that some people think makes their dog look super-cool. The pattern called Scallo-Pie is free and from one of my favorite designers: Martina Behm.

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The photos below finally show the finished products. Took me long enough to finish. Some projects have that effect on me. And after a certain amount of time working on such items it should be enough and it should finish itself. Somehow I get no special pleasure or gratification in completion. That gets me into trouble around the house. Every room has a project started and not finished. Don’t ask why but around 10 years ago I thought I could put in my own floors and did. But did I finish the baseboard or the last few boards? Noooooooooo. Yes, there are excuses. I had no saw to cut the boards to size. Now that I do, I’m used to the look and doubt I could master this finishing anyway.

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Give-Away #3

Hi, remember me? I’m still here. It’s not just a stereotype, this sure is a busy season. Days seem to fly by, in and out. If only they would wait for me to get something done before they leave. But often it is not to be.

Since the holidays are coming at an even faster and more furious pace, we should all take a moment and find some time to relax and be together. I’m not sure how you go about doing that, but it’s a darn good suggestion, you have to admit.

Our family will be together this season with Liana and her boyfriend coming from Denver. And this year we get to meet his parents, who are also coming and tagging on a ski trip to Lake Tahoe or Squaw Valley. We’re not skiers and will not make fools of ourselves, no worries there. We’ll do what we do best and that is host people and wine and dine them.

Toby will head over from Grass Valley with girlfriend and her mom. All this on the evening of the 24th, when I actually celebrate Christmas. And this year it will also be the last night of Hanukkah. How much better does it get? I think everyone is relieved that I lay claim to the 24th and let them do their thing on the 25th.

A few more presents to wrap by candlelight and some incense burning, and I’m happy as can be, for now. Being who I am, I’m sure I can find something to be unhappy and upset about. Right now my pet peeve is the movement to diss saying ‘happy holidays,’ in favor of ‘merry christmas.’

Come on, that’s pure crap. This is a huge extended holiday season, and a ‘happy holidays’ is in order. Unless you count all your consuming in malls and online shopping as a merry christmas, you are plain wrong. You will have bought into a consumer mentality that makes people downright mean and selfish at times.

I prefer to look at this time of year as one big celebration of everything. Whatever you want to name your celebration: Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Yule, St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucy’s Day, etc., lights play a crucial role. It’s December, it’s dark, shortest days of the year and all. We need something to cheer us up. This is when gifts of candles are appreciated. I always make sure I have hundreds of candles lined up from Ikea, I’m an Ikea candle fiend.

But let’s get back to the topic of giveaway, meant to cheer us up. You’ll have 2 chances to win. One of them is a package of 5 chocolate truffles, flavors will be the maker’s choice. And you have to be able to pick them up at our house, here in Nevada City.

The second gift is the purple cowl. I’ll give you a picture below, so you know what you’re getting into. The colorway is called avalon. It’s one of those hand-wash lay-flat-to-dry items knitters are so fond of. Now how to get into the drawing for this? Hmmm, let’s say you have to be a subscriber to this blog (look to your right and up), and how about paying it forward. Just make a commitment to do something good for another person next year, I trust you and don’t need the details. And let me know in the comments below or in a private email if you would like to be in the drawing for the cowl or the chocolate truffles or both.

The cowl and truffles are for pickup at our house if you live locally, or if you live outside this area and have a U.S. address, I can ship the cowl to you (not the truffles).

A happy holiday season to all!

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Buttons

I have a knitting nemesis: buttons. It doesn’t keep me from making knit items that need buttons, but it keeps me from finishing them. So it can happen that a cardigan for a baby will not be finished until said baby has a baby of their own.

Yes, I know, sounds ridiculous.  Since there is no knitting police, I’m stuck with disciplining myself. Or not, as has happened. Ask Stephen about a couple of sweaters that need the arms sewn in, since the ’80s. Oh yes, there is more than one nemesis with my knitting. It’s a wonder anything gets done at all, you might think.

But then there are days like today. They don’t come around often, so you have to grab them and start rolling. This is what I did. 7 buttons on a baby cardigan that might fit for 7 moments. One button a moment. Crazy, yes, but it’s all love and knitting.

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And then when you see a picture of a wee one actually wearing something you made, it’s the proverbial priceless.

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The postal carrier brought yarn today. I ordered a few more cables for my interchangeable knitting needles. Yes, it’s to be able to start even more projects before finishing the other ones. Bad, bad, bad, I know. But it’s my life….

I saw a skein of yarn on sale, half price, made of wool and silk. Resistance was futile.

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And no one reading this should roll their eyes right now, because you never know what will be up for the next prize drawing.

Except for finishing touches, a.k.a. buttons, I’m done with my holiday knitting. From now on out, it’s fun stuff. Well, it’s always fun, but now it’s free of deadlines and matching colors and projects to people, etc. You know, goal-oriented knitting, now I only have to worry about the path, and not even that if I choose. As Stephen might tell me: have at it!

 

Say Thank You

We are rushing into the gift giving and consuming portion of the year. It’s time to buy, buy, buy, we’re told. It’s time to say thanks. It’s time to make the rich a little richer and us poorer folks burdened with a little more stuff. That’s how I see it, anyway.

For some of us, this holiday season is an opportunity to combine our love of knitting/crafting with showing love to others. We love planning for you. Coming up with the perfect gift item. We love choosing the yarn that will envelop you. We love the process of hours upon hours of repeating pretty much the same stitches. We love meditating, with you in our thoughts and heart. And let’s be honest, we also don’t shirk away from some cussing when things go wrong. But be assured, most of what you are receiving is pure love.

Unfortunately, we are only human and come with expectations of being appreciated and thanked. If you don’t like the color of the socks, or that scarf clashes with your hat, or the shawl is absolutely not your style, we’re sorry. We would have gotten it right if you would have given us better directions. Or maybe we were just wrong in choosing what we did. It happens. But what’s left is still the love, nothing can take that away.

My advice to everyone on the receiving end of knitted or other handcrafted gifts is this: Muster up as much of an enthusiastic ‘thank you’ as you can. A thank you for the love shown, the appreciation expressed, the time devoted, and perhaps even the gift itself, give it a chance. Obviously the knitter or crafter saw something that might not immediately be obvious to you.

You can’t even exchange the gift? Listen, you don’t want to. Why would you want to return love? For what? A Dollar Store trinket? Socks made in China?

This year, honor the intentions that went into the knitted gift. And give the appreciation it deserves, if not from your perspective then from the giver’s perspective. We have that much empathy left, right?

Speaking only for myself here, I don’t mind if I get a big thank you and an ooh and an aah, and then a but…. It’s not your color? You would never wear it? It clashes with your coat? It itches? Give it back gently, and ask if I would know someone else who’d appreciate it. It would save some knitting time next year when I’m under the holiday pressure. For a knitter, one of the worst fates is the gift stuffed in the back of the closet.

Of course the best is if you let me know in advance what you like. Don’t get too specific. Don’t take away my joy of hours with Ravelry looking for the perfect pattern. Or looking in local yarn shops or online for the perfect matching yarn. It’s ok to name a category like: scarf, shawl but no lace, socks but not too colorful. If you need it to match a coat or pants, say that too. Just don’t treat me like the hired help by handing me a picture and telling me: knit that.

 

Give-Away #2

Let’s do a small giveaway. A few dishcloths. If you haven’t used them yet, they might change your life. I’ll let you pick 3 out of my dishcloth stash. They are 100% cotton and can be thrown into the washing machine and dryer. The colors will fade over time, but the cloths will serve their purpose much longer.

If you want to be part of the drawing, leave a comment on this post or send me an email. I’ll mail only within the United States. If you live in another country, find yourself an address here or give these as gifts to someone in this country; I’m willing to gift-wrap. If you live locally, pickup is at my house, to save me postage.

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This family is still reeling from and dealing with the tragic news of Gemma’s death. Knowing that time manages to heal, I’m waiting patiently. But deep down in my heart I know her death will always stay with us.

So I’m throwing myself into the knitting. My thoughts are now: the more difficult, the better, give me distractions and difficult lace patterns and impossible intarsia that I have not mastered yet. Anything to keep my mind from wandering. Unfortunately, the knitting that really needs doing is not very concentration-heavy. It’s knitting for my newest grand-niece. A little cardigan, with a matching hat should the yarn last. The cardigan is done and I’m not unhappy though the colors look awfully familiar. No, I didn’t buy the same yarn. But Fleece Artist and Miss Babs must like similar colors. I bought Fleece Artist a few years ago and so had forgotten about the color scheme until I pulled out the little girl socks today. Now I’m wondering if indie yarn dyers get inspired by each other. You be the judge.

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Black Friday. That term has never meant anything to me. I don’t think we ever had a Black Friday in Germany. So I can’t even tell you if I ever shopped on that day. But this time I did.

Before Thanksgiving I went for a button shopping trip to our Ben Franklin’s. Success was mine, and then I fell in love with a quilt on their wall. This quilt came with a package of 2 1/2 inch strips of various patterns. If you hang long enough with this blog you should eventually see what I’m talking about. Anyway, these little package gems come for a dear price, one I was not ready to pay.

I decided to wait for their next 20%-off sale that happens every last Wednesday of the month. December it would be. Then after getting home and checking email, what was in the inbox? Yeah! A 40%-off coupon for the infamous Black Friday. Wild horses and all.

So first thing after our morning walk with dog was a trip to the shopping center. Right away I could tell this was no ordinary day. I had never seen so few cars in that parking lot. And all my agonizing if they would have any of the 7 packages left was for naught. There they were, all 7 of them, ready for me to make my choice.

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So what is this Black Friday thing? An urban myth?

Multi-Anything

Gone, gone, gone, with multi-tasking being one of the first to go. Instead of getting lots of stuff done, it took me a while to notice that I got distracted and ended up doing something completely different. That’s because when I’m on the multi-tasking track, everything I come across is fair game and gets added to the multi part. Nope, does not work if progress is a goal.

Perhaps lists will be the eventual solution. But by the time I get paper and pen I can’t remember what goes on the list. It does not even last for me to set up a document on  the computer. Immediate list block.

I’m not sure what to call this multi that worries me, it’s not tasking, it’s multi-planning perhaps, but no, the word escapes me if there even is a word. So let me describe it. Hypothetically, I invited someone for dinner in a few days. Though it’s a few days away, I can’t concentrate on anything else. Start another project? No, dinner is coming up. Until that dinner, life is passing me by.

This happens with anything I planned for the future. I need to get it over with to resume natural everyday life. There has to be a word for this disability, yes? OK, several not so nice words come to mind, but I’m talking a word that can be found in the DSM. And I need to get over it because there are times it becomes paralyzing.

I’ve always had a bit of a problem with planning ahead. As the day of an event looms I get anxious. Then I don’t want to go, as it was a stupid idea. Then I fall apart and make everyone around me miserable, and only then do I go and usually have a great time. I know there’s a word out there for this behavior and it just might start with an a.

What’s strange, I can go at the drop of a what is it? Hat? At the drop of a hat? Or is it at a drop of a bucket? Or a drop into the bucket? You know.

Example and proof. Stephen won tickets to see Explosions in the Sky at 11 am and we were out the door within a few hours to head to San Francisco and the concert. See, I’m good at spontaneity, but suck at plans. 

Something we need to get over with, a joyful event, so it’s not in the way, is another giveaway. For this one, you need an open mind. It took me a while to get behind the concept.

What do you use to wash your dishes? Smart aleck, not the dishwasher. I mean what do you use to wash your dishes by hand? There are always a few items you don’t put in the dishwasher or you use something to wipe the counter with.

No judgment here, but do you use a sponge, a dishcloth, or for some purposes a paper towel? I’m a sponge person, Stephen a dishcloth guy. So we have both. And have lived happily side by side for years. The sponges and dishcloths and humans.

Until the knitting took over my life. And though I promise never to knit a washcloth for myself, even this resolution might get broken. In the meantime I’m a dishcloth fiend. I love making them and using them. And Stephen is totally behind the concept and in dishcloth heaven.

Long intro, I know, but this time I’m giving away dishcloths to convert one person if they’re not a dishcloth lover yet. While you wrap your head around it for a day, I’ll be back tomorrow for the details.

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On the knitting front, there is a little progress on the cowl. I mostly like working on it in the evenings while streaming some show.

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In the daytime I like starting new projects. Like yesterday. Is it recognizable yet?

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And did I mention that I knit another Zuzu’s Petals cowl? I used one skein of Malabrigo Rios yarn that our Ben Franklin carries. Why do I love this pattern so much? Many reasons. One, it even fits a person with hardly any neck, like me, and it still looks good. In fact, it suggests a neck where there isn’t one. Also, it stays put, no re-slinging that scarf when it falls off the shoulders. It knits up very quickly, and it takes very little yarn, one skein worsted or one skein sport weight. Need I say more?

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