Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Making is Over

One by one, I have gradually been crossing things off on my Christmas to-do list.  Today I reached a significant point in my holiday preparations by completing the last of the handmade gifts.  Since daughter, dear daughter is on the receiving end of one of those presents and sometimes reads my blog I can not share everything I’ve been working on but here is a sampling.

Ever since I gifted the first felted slippers back in 2006 I have received requests for at least a pair or two every year.  Knowing how much they are loved and appreciated, I am happy to oblige, even though the novelty of knitting them wore off long ago.  This year I had planned to make only two pairs, one for my sister, Anna-Marie, for her birthday and one on behalf of my sister, Alison, to gift to her daughter-in-law.  I think it was halfway through the third slipper that I decided to also knit a pair for my brother-in-law, Doug, for his birthday (we celebrate the winter birthdays in my family at a post-Christmas brunch so holiday gift-planning also includes several birthday presents).  I vaguely recall having a conversation with him about them and I’d recorded his shoe size in my knitting notebook so I am guessing that he had expressed an interest in owning a pair at some point.

So, that makes three pairs in all:

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I still haven’t decided whether to gift them felted or unfelted—I’d hate to get the sizing wrong but it is nicer to receive a pair that you can slip on right away.

Once upon a time I used to be quite a seamstress but it’s rare these days that I use my machine for anything other than hemming or mending.  However, since Santa is bringing my granddaughter an Easy-Bake Oven, Jessica suggested that an apron might be a good gift for Morgan this year.  I found a really good tutorial online and had a lot of fun picking out coordinating fabrics.  It made up in no time and I love how it turned out.

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While I was sewing it I remembered a Christmas apron panel that I’d bought years ago when I used to work at a craft store and decided that it had sat in the fabric stash long enough.  Luckily, I had just the right amount of muslin to line it with and before I knew it I had another apron to gift, this time to my mother (who is actually the only person I know who regularly uses an apron).

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You’ll notice that I’ve used our Christmas tree as a background for all of these projects.  If you look more closely you’ll see that the Christmas tree is completely bare of ornaments, even though it has been up since Sunday.  I am hoping to remedy that situation in the next day or two, now that the making is over and the shopping is almost done.  (We won’t dwell on the fact that I haven’t even begun the cards.)  Considering the jobs that still remain on my to-do list it is unlikely that I will be posting again before the big day so I’d like to extend a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my blog readers and wish you nothing but good things in 2012.

P.S.  If you have the means, please try to make the holidays brighter for someone less fortunate.  Every year my ladies group adopts a family for Christmas from our local women’s shelter and we are going shopping for them tonight.  This is one of my favourite holiday traditions—it feels good to ease the family’s burden at this time of year and it always makes me feel even more grateful for all I have.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Now that Andrew’s birthday has come and gone I can share details and pictures of his super-secret birthday sweater.  Well, it wasn’t entirely secret.  Jessica knew which sweater I was knitting for him, she just didn’t know what colour it was going to be. 

I fell in love with Arshile months ago so when I saw the booklet in my LYS I immediately snatched it up and purchased yarn; an added bonus was discovering Abi, which by the way, despite numerous issues, turned out perfectly.

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(One of these days I am going to have to get model shots of all my sweaters—the laid-out-flat-on-the-floor poses just don’t do them justice but it’s hard to take pictures of yourself!)

Back to Arshile…

I really loved the gansey-style textured stitches and I am a sucker for a hoodie.

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The pattern called for knitting it flat and seaming but I couldn’t see why it couldn’t be knit in the round so I adjusted the pattern and cast on after taking off for Miami back in September.  It turned out to be perfect travel knitting—the pattern was straightforward and just mindless enough that I could knit and look out the airplane window at the same time.  I worked on it a bit on the way home but mostly I just slept.

It didn’t take long to finish once I got home and settled in. 

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Once blocked, all I had to do was wait for the big day…

With Andrew so mobile these days, it’s hard to get him to stand still for a picture but I managed a quick one.

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and then another.

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After that the photo shoot went downhill when I tried for one with the hood on and he proceeded to jersey himself in his effort to get it off.  However, I am happy to report that he has gone on to wear the sweater multiple times since without incident.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Birthday Boy

From this

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to this

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in the blink of an eye.

Happy Birthday, Andrew!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Triumph and Tragedy

Triumph:  Despite suffering a major setback, after two months of tv-, car-, and social-knitting I finally finished the seemingly endless stockinette body of Abi at about 10:30 last night.  I was so excited by the prospect of adding the sleeves and beginning the cabled yoke that I decided to begin right then.  This may have been a lapse in judgment.

Tragedy:  The process did not turn out to be as simple as I first anticipated.  Recall that the pattern is written for flat construction and I am knitting it in the round.  Consider that to eliminate seams you must alter stitch counts and use different construction techniques.  Also take into account that I decided to attach the sleeves and increase for the yoke in the same row and you might have some idea of why I ran into trouble.

Triumph:  A couple of hours, a glass of wine, and several failed attempts later, I successfully attached the sleeves to the sweater and ended up with the right number of stitches.  Win, win.

Tragedy:  Even after a good night’s sleep, this morning it took three tries to get the cables placed around the yoke to my satisfaction.  I should have waited until after I’d had my first cup of tea.

Triumph:  The cables are evenly dispersed and strategically placed and the yoke is well on its way.  Abi may become a sweater yet.

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On a more somber note, tomorrow we celebrate Remembrance Day.  In addition to observing a minute of silence at 11:00 am, Canadians wear poppies to commemorate the memory of our fallen heroes.

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Lest we forget.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

And Then There Were Two

Well, three, if you count the cat (who is currently oblivious to the whole situation).

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Just a short time ago Cameron helped Matt load up the last truckload of his belongings and move them into his new abode (Colin’s condo), thus decreasing the size of our household by one and ushering in a new phase of all of our lives.  It’s a day we have all been looking forward to, in the best kind of way.  Matt will experience true independence for the first time in his life and we will regain some of the freedom we lost when our first child was born.  I know some parents dread becoming empty-nesters but I look at this moment as a sign of success.  What greater achievement is there than raising your children to become capable, responsible, independent adults?  After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Tomorrow we will celebrate another milestone when our youngest turns twenty-two.  Happy Birthday, Colin!

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Matt and Colin, roomies once again.  Okay, so maybe they don’t look like the most capable, responsible, independent adults in this picture but underneath those Halloween costumes I assure you that they are.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Taking a Breather

September and October have been very busy and will continue to be so right up until this weekend, when we will be hosting about 25 people for our family’s annual fall birthday get-together on Saturday, then helping our eldest son move out on Sunday (after that we will officially be empty-nesters!).  Today feels like a bit of a catch-up day, working on some knitting this morning and updating Ravelry project pages and the blog this afternoon.

First things first, a secret project I alluded to way back at the beginning of September.  A very kind Ravelry friend sent me some yummy sock yarn from her mother’s destash

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so I thought it only fitting that I send my yarn fairy a gift in return.Knitting 2323

River Grass socks made from some locally dyed yarn, purchased at one of my favourite LYS’s.  I may have also sent along some Canadian chocolate because isn’t everything better with chocolate?  Once again, Yarn Fairy, I want to say a huge thank you for your kindness and generosity.

Throughout September I worked on several other projects.

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I made quite a lot of progress on my Strata Sphere but it still doesn’t look much like a sweater yet.

I finished up my last pair of socks from Chrissy Gardiner’s CSK, Memento Mori.

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Unfortunately, this photo doesn’t do justice to the gorgeous yarn from Impulse of Delight.  I salivate every time she updates her shop.  I also cast on and completed Gordes, knit from Quince and Co.’s Tern.

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This is the second pair I’ve made with this yarn and I really like it.  I have plans to try out their sweater weights too.  As if that weren’t enough I also cast on Cusp for the Cookie A. KAL and got as far as the gusset on the first sock.

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I chose another new favourite yarn, Spud and Chloe Fine.  Like the Tern, it is a wool and silk blend with a nice bounce.  As if all of that weren’t enough, a few weeks before we left for holidays I decided that I really wanted a shrug to wear with my “little black dress”, one that would match the necklace I planned to wear with it.  The result was the Lady Grey Lace Shrug in a deep red.

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I finished it in plenty of time and It turned out exactly as I’d hoped but you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you how elegant it looked since I neglected to get a picture.

We left for our trip on September 29th, a working holiday with my husband’s company that consisted of three days in Miami, followed by a weeklong cruise to the eastern Caribbean.  Of course, the most important decision was what knitting I would pack for the plane.  The Ennea Collective had released Clue 1 of a mystery shawl the week before and I had promptly jumped in—you know how I love a good KAL.

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If Clue 2 was released in time I planned to work on that.  If not, Plan B was to cast on for Andrew’s birthday sweater,  Despite Lori’s valiant attempts on my and another knitter’s behalf, Plan B it was (in retrospect, it was probably a better choice anyway since all of the lace charts might have been a bit fiddly to manage).  I worked on it all the way to Miami and by the time I arrived I had more than half a body.  Then I put it away and didn’t knit a stitch for ten days.  

Think about that for a minute.  Ten whole days.

There simply wasn’t time.  We were too busy participating in 70’s night and getting down with the World Class Rockers,

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then enjoying the mellow sounds of Blue Rodeo the following night.     

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We golfed and did some sightseeing in Miami, then boarded The Allure, the world’s largest ship.

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The ship was not only huge, it was also very beautiful with an aqua theatre and boardwalk area, complete with carousel, ice-cream parlour, and old-fashioned candy store,

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a mini replica of Central Park,

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a zip line,

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a climbing wall,

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and two flow riders,

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in addition to numerous restaurants and shops and some amazing artwork.

Our first stop was Nassau, Bahamas

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then it was on to St. Thomas, where we went on a sail ‘n’ snorkel on a pirate ship.  We saw lots of turtles and tropical fish and got tattooed on our way back to port.

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In St. Maarten, our final port-of-call, we attended a beach party hosted by my husband’s company.  The beach was spectacular!

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With that we said good-bye to the Caribbean and headed back to Ft. Lauderdale, sailing through some stormy seas on our way (I might have been a little queasy).

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What a contrast!

A few days later we arrived home to find that October was already almost half over.  Since then, real life has kicked in with a vengeance  and our trip already seems like a distant memory—cliche, I know, but all too true.  A post-vacation cold this past week allowed for plenty of knitting and I have several FO’s to show off but I’ll leave that for another post—this one is plenty long enough.

Note to self:  Write shorter, more frequent posts so you don’t bore the poor blog readers to death.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I promise I will post some actual knitting content one day soon but here’s a pretty picture for you to enjoy in the meantime.  It was the view out my back door this afternoon.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Laundry Day

It’s that time of year again…

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Going Around in Circles

The other day it occurred to me that all of my latest knitting projects are being knit in the round.  There are my various socks-in-progress, my Strata Sphere swirl jacket, and this sweater, Abi, made with Berroco Remix.

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In fact, the pattern calls for Abi to be knit in pieces but I couldn’t see any reason for doing all that sewing when it would be so easy to convert it to a bottom-up circular sweater.  After knitting a gauge swatch I did the calculations, cast on for the front and the back, and began working in the round.

Let’s face it, until you get to the yoke Abi is a pretty boring knit.  After the ribbing comes inch after inch of stockinette, broken up only by occasional decreases and increases for the waist shaping.  Not a sweater to keep your interest under normal circumstances but the perfect project to work on while watching tv or going for a drive.  In other words, the perfect project to work on this past weekend, during which I was guaranteed to spend at least nine hours in the car.

When we left home Saturday morning the sweater was already almost 7” long.  By the time we arrived home again Tuesday evening I was into the third ball of yarn and the sweater had grown by another 7”. 

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Just the final set of increases and another 5” of knitting, then it would be time for the interesting part.

As our freeway exit approached I returned Abi to its project bag and remarked to Cameron that I really should run some yarn through the live stitches and try it on, just to make sure it fit.  In fact, I said, I probably should have done it before now.  And with those prophetic words, I set myself up for a major fail.

When I tried the sweater on this afternoon I was shocked to discover that it was WAY TOO BIG.  How did this happen?  I checked my gauge and it was bang on.  Puzzled, I reviewed the cast-on numbers and found that they were also in order.  A quick glance at my knitting confirmed that I had indeed decreased after the ribbing.  Another look at the pattern, then another scan of my notes, some figuring on the calculator, and then it hit me.

After working the ribbing, instead of decreasing 28 stitches on both the back and the front for a total of 56 stitches, I had only decreased a total of 28 stitches all around.  At 4.5 stitches per inch that made a difference of just over 6”.  No wonder it is WAY TOO BIG.

Right now I don’t even want to think about frogging it back to the ribbing, working the correct number of decreases, and starting all over again but I know that’s what I’ll do (and the sooner I get the frogging over with, the better).  An eternal optimist, I can’t help looking at the bright side of things.  If I’d knit the sweater in pieces I might not have discovered my mistake until after I’d seamed it together so there’s something to be said for knitting in the round.* 

I’ll try to remember that when I am reknitting the inches and inches of stockinette…

*I later realized that if I’d knit the sweater in pieces I never would have made this mistake in the first place.  Oh dear, there may be no bright side after all.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Knit, Swoon

You know you’re excited about a project when you sacrifice an extra hour of sleep so you can get up early to work on it. 

I can’t remember when or where I first heard about Knit, Swirl, I only know that I was immediately smitten with the beautiful, drapey sweaters with their unique, circular construction.  What can I say?  I am a sucker for knits with interesting construction techniques.

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After pouring over the book several times I finally chose Strata Sphere as my first project, partly because I thought the off-centre circle would be flattering and partly because the Noro Silk Garden would be easily available and entertaining to work with.  When you have to knit band after band of alternating stockinette and reverse stockinette, frequent colour changes help to keep it interesting.

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My yarn arrived the other morning while I was writing my last blog post (thanks for the warm welcome back) and it wasn’t long after I hit “publish” that I picked up the needles and started swatching.

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After soaking and blocking it soon became apparent that even though I was getting stitch gauge I was going to have to go up at least a needle size because row gauge is equally important in this type of sweater construction.  I knit a second swatch and after its bath it seemed to be pretty much bang on.  If I was a good, little knitter I would have waited for it to dry and pinned it out and checked and double-checked but I was too impatient to get going.  I decided it was good enough and cast on the required 537 stitches.  (The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding—cross your fingers!)

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So far, so good.  I managed to join in the round without twisting and am into my third welt (each band of stockinette and reverse stockinette is called a welt).  I love how the colours are playing out so far—unlike some Noro colourways there isn’t one, jarring colour that clashes with the rest—and I look forward to seeing the stripes of colour widen as the circle grows smaller.  

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Meanwhile, it’s the first of the month and, therefore, time for the next round of the Silk Road Socks and Knit. Sock. Love. knitalongs.  

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I’ll be casting on for Gordes

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and Cusp later this afternoon, as soon as I finish vacuuming.

Just to make it clear, it’s not that I’m virtuous, just realistic.  If I start casting on now, the vacuuming will never get done.  We’re going away for the long weekend and I want to come home to a clean house.

With all that plus a secret project for my yarn fairy (more about that later), not to mention a variety of half-finished socks and sweaters kicking around, I have more than enough knitting to keep me going for a while.  Even though September no longer means “back-to-school” for me or my family, there is still a sense of new beginning at this time of the year that fills me with inspiration.

Except when it comes to housework.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

If you haven’t visited my projects page on Ravelry lately or, for those in my personal life, seen the odd post on Facebook you might be forgiven for thinking that I’d dropped off the face of the earth.  One thing is certain--my blog has given no indication of whether I’ve been alive or dead since I wrote my last entry late last December.

Over the past eight months I’ve thought about writing a new post now and then (I even went so far as to began typing one a few months ago) but I felt obligated to catch you up on everything that had happened in the intervening months and, overwhelmed with the enormity of the task, abandoned the idea.  However, this morning I was once again seized by the desire to take pen to paper (or, more precisely, fingers to keyboard) and was determined to see it through this time.

I still feel the need to bring you up to date with my life but for all of our sakes I’m going to stick to the Reader’s Digest version and just hit the highlights.

Just after New Years we returned to Ucluelet for a few days of R&R (we even had the same condo we’d had last year), then spent the remainder of the week just up the road at Tofino.  This area is the home of Pacific Rim National Park, which is known for its wild beauty and surf-worthy waves. 

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Wintertime is storm-watching season but even though we had a bit of rain, we’ve yet to experience a full-out storm.  Maybe next year—we’ve decided to make this getaway an annual event.

A couple of weeks after we got home Jessica had to go in for an emergency appendectomy so Andrew had his first sleepover at our house.  Typical of most sleepovers, there wasn’t a lot of sleeping going on but there were some smiles and lots of cuddle time.

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As a Christmas present Cameron had arranged for a boat tour down the Harrison River to see the eagles, which gather there in huge numbers in the wintertime to feast on spawning salmon. 

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By the time the weather cooperated the peak viewing season had passed but we still saw our share of the birds and enjoyed some spectacular scenery besides.

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In February Cameron turned 50 so we threw a party to celebrate.

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Unfortunately, Mother Nature planned a snowstorm for the same night so some of our invited guests were unable to make it but we had fun just the same. 

Two months later my sister, Jacqueline, also turned 50 and she celebrated by running the Vancouver Marathon, coming first in her age group.

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Her husband had also arranged for a surprise party afterwards at a downtown restaurant so she got to blow out candles and eat cake too.  In my opinion, that’s much more fun than running 26 miles but what do I know?

In May I took paintbrush in hand and finally renovated Colin’s old bedroom.  I turned it into a craft room!

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Now most of my sewing, needlework, and knitting supplies are in one place.  I say most because some things still live under my bed and in the trunk in the living room.

Colin’s band made great strides this year, moving up one spot to come in third in Chilliwack’s Battle of the Bands. 

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They have a three-song CD coming out shortly and have played quite a few gigs lately, including the city’s Party in the Park one Friday night in August (that’s him on the right).

This year Matt’s spent a lot of time working out of town so we’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to be empty nesters. 

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We always enjoy seeing him when he’s home but we’re looking forward to the next stage.

Jessica and Neil got engaged and had Cameron’s grandmother’s ring restored. 284073_2301457219654_1345911052_32775113_3926592_n

They’ll be getting married next September 1st in my sister’s garden.  Jessica and I went shopping with Neil’s mom this past weekend and found the perfect wedding dress.

Another highlight of my year has been losing almost 25 lbs, with the help of Weight Watchers Online.  I’d been watching my weight creep up over the past three years so it feels good to be almost back to where I want to be—just a couple more lbs to go!

But I think it’s safe to say that the biggest joy of 2011 has been spending time with our grandchildren.  Of course, a baby’s first year is chock full of developmental milestones so we’ve seen incredible changes in Andrew since January.  With a year of kindergarten behind her now, Morgan has also matured and is on the brink of reading—Grade 1 will be an exciting time for her and she is anxiously awaiting the first day of school.  I have eight month’s worth of pictures I could share with you but I won’t.  Instead, please indulge just a few of my favourite shots from “Grandma’s Brag Book”.

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And knitting?  Well, I’ve done a lot of knitting this year.  If you want to see all the pretty pictures, you can check out Ravelry.

So, now that we’re all caught up, what exciting things can you expect in the months to come?

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The second leg of the Silk Road Socks KAL.

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Some Knit, Swirl.  The yarn just arrived this morning and I can’t wait to give this new construction method a try.

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An upcoming trip on the largest cruise ship in the world

…and much, much more!  Watch this space.