Archive for the ‘yarn and dyeing’ Category

good folks, good music, good eats

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

gardenEats07_20

look at this nice little haul from our garden. it’s so great to be in that season where i can go out with my colander and fill it with a variety of things for dinner. we’ve got squash, eggplant, a few okra, a couple tomatoes, a handful of peas, and some green beans—plus thai basil and a sheath of swiss chard.

i added a large onion, some shitake mushrooms, and a block of tofu and we had the perfect combination of things for a thai curry. which we cooked and ate last night, mmm-mm. how can you not have energy when you eat this way? i’m super excited to be cooking from our garden once again.

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the other day, we had a visitor—our friend hunter hammersen, author of the knitter’s curiosity cabinet books, among others and a dear sweet colleague. she was down from cleveland to do some research for her new book project and we got to have lunch while she was here. which gave us time to talk for a few hours, which was wonderful.

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her timing was perfect—we had just received a box of samples from the mill for our confection sport yarn, so i was anxious to show them to her. we had planned to have the sport version of our 3-ply corriedale confection worsted spun to about the same specifications—basically, the same yarn in a thinner diameter.

but then the mill thought the sport version might need some adjusting—maybe even a big adjustment to a 2-ply construction. i wasn’t so sure about that; i felt the two yarn weights should match in appearance and performance (and it turns out that every knitter i present the dilemma to agrees—don’t play around with the number of plies).

but i was willing to entertain the idea, so we got some samples spun.

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now the 2-ply is squishier and airier; we particularly like the one on the right, which is spun a bit tighter. but wow, the difference in texture is a problem for me. plus, a 2-ply has several other traits that will make it perform differently from the 3-ply.

then there were three samples of 3-ply yarn, each spun  little more loosely to offset some of the stiffness that the miller felt was problematic.

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the original yarn (top) with the three variations. truthfully, we all like the original yarn most and maybe the one spun just a tad looser. thanks to its lincoln lineage, corriedale fiber is a bit stiffer than say, pure merino, but that crispness provides incredible stitch definition and sheen, plus a sturdiness that merino on its own cannot offer. it still has lots of bounce; when knit on larger needles, it makes a lovely, soft fabric.

below, a swatch knit with the original 3-ply sample.

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it’s been a really busy week, so i haven’t had time to swatch the best three or four of the samples, but that’s on my agenda for tomorrow. i’m pretty sure thought that we will either stick to the original 3 ply construction or go with the next looser version.

storeProgress07_20

we showed hunter our new office and retails space, which is shaping up nicely—we are planning to be open for sales by friday, when activities are launched city-wide for hall of fame week and the enshrinement festival. we are located just blocks away from the football hall of fame, so if you are in town with a fan, please come by to say hello.

we’ll post lots more information about our opening as the week progresses . . . including contact information, hours, and any other pertinent news.

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speaking of confection, now that my monthly club patterns are published and the purple club launched, i have finished my pedal pusher cardigan prototype and i love it.

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it still needs to be blocked but i’m waiting til all my ends are tucked in (working on that now)

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and my underarm seams are sewn up (i have one done and one to go). i’ve been squaring away the finishing work during the late night hours while we watch each daily installment of the tour de france.

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my pockets are knit up but i won’t sew them on til after the sweater is blocked. since i knit the sweater all in one piece, it will be kind of hard to steam block the individual parts, so i’ll probably just steam the seams and then wet block the whole garment. once the pockets are sewn on, i’ll steam them as a finishing step. so exciting; i always love completing a new sweater, no matter what the weather (though it happens we are having a string of very cool nights).

now i just have to figure out what buttons i want to use; sarah has a whole bunch of my buttons somewhere in her sample stuff, so i have to wait til monday before finalizing that step.

i’m working on the pattern and should be able to send that to the tech editor before too long, yay.

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i’ve also been working on my cotton empreinte a little at a time, during classes and while chatting on the phone. in fact, after i finish this post, i’m calling my mom, so i’ll work on it while we talk. it’s really turning out lovely; i know i’m going to love it.

now that david’s cap is done, i need to begin a new one; i was thinking that i’d knit up the bocce cap from last winter in one of the cotton yarns next, giving me a good excuse to finally release that pattern.

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the other night we went to a wonderful party at our neighbor’s home to celebrate their retirements and the completion of some projects around their home. bruce is part of a bluegrass group so anytime they have a get-together, entertainment is on hand. i just love this photo of the group, haha; they are so much fun.

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and even more so when the women join in.

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david and i enjoyed chatting with our neighbors, and listening to music (this is him smiling)

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i worked on my oculus scarf until it got too dark. i got two more repeats done so that wasn’t bad.

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it’s such wonderfully lush piece, but incredibly light. the sweet georgia silk mohair that i’m knitting with is just gorgeous.

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norma had the yard strung with colorful lights and had set up a memory tree that we could add to by making an ornament with a favorite memory written on it.

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today i got up early to do a few things in the kitchen and then set out for my long sunday run. i’m training for a couple of half marathons that are coming up in august and september. i always do a  long run on sunday, but between may and july, i didn’t do any runs longer than ten miles. so i’ve been working on increasing and today i finally hit the thirteen mile mark again. i went a little faster than i probably should have, but it felt good.

i’m pretty sure i’m going to be feeling that tomorrow, hehe.

well, time to talk to my mom now; have a good monday. i’ll be back with more in a few days.

exquisite

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

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after all that chatting and running on i did the other day, i totally forgot to update you on the garden. i know how everyone loves to see what’s growing in our yard.

well obviously from the photos, it’s time for hydrangeas to populate their globes with little blooms; how i love them in every stage.

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first i think the entirely green ones are my very favorite and then they explode into blue-lavender worlds and i think, WOW. just wow.

and then, just when i thought i was sick and tired of pink forever, they transition again and voilà!

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i am shown to be glaringly wrong.

this year our hydrangea shrubs are the greenest green, healthy and lush and abundant, but mostly lacking in flowers. each shrub has just one bloom—but what a bloom it is.

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in each case almost vulgar in size and perfectness.

i don’t know what happened to the rest of the blooms but i gotta tell you, the ones we have are so spectacular, i don’t even care about the ones we didn’t get.

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in fact, the whole garden is in vivid bloom right now, from lilies to green beans, so let me take you on a tour.

first i’ve got photos of the vegetable patch from each of the last three sundays, to compare with previous photos taken on june 19th, less than a month ago

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first, when everything was still pretty new, before i left for denver.

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then what it looked like upon my return last sunday—we had a lot of rain and cool weather when i was gone but the squash, peppers, and eggplant all had vegetables big enough to pick.

 

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and finally, yesterday; it got hot near the end of last week and the soil was quite a bit more dry. but look at how those marigolds to the left have bloomed out

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they are tall and covered with flowers to stand guard over the squash and greens nearby.  we’ve eaten several meals so far that include squash—we pick them at a very small size to eat when they are tender and delicate tasting. today i even had enough to share with friends.

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speaking of which, the last squash in the row has climbed up into the barrel where i put one of the tomato plants and is using the tomato as a trellis to climb further (the neighbor’s bees love our garden patch).

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everything over there is starting to grow into an inseparable tangle; i love it.

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these nasturtiums have the prettiest blue-green leaves and bright red flowers, wow.

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lavender in a pot at the corner to rub between my fingers whenever i pass by.

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while most of the garden looks just beautiful, thanks to david’s careful tending, my chard patch is in dire need of thinning and weeding. i keep thinking i’ll have time to do it “tomorrow” but that extra time just never materializes.

vegetables have the w=sweetest flowers—so delicate they last only hours; a day if we’re lucky.

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at the back, the green beans are climbing vigorously up the wire fence and putting out white and purple flowers. at their feet, the bush beans are doing the same and when i peek underneath their broad leaves to take a photo

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what do i see but the tenderest of little string beans. in a day or two these will probably be on our plates at dinner, mmm.

the potatoes and carrots populating the remaining back area are starting to take over in a lush jungle of vines and feathery tops. i love when everything fills in like this because it really cuts down on the number of weeds that can grow.

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moving toward the front, we see my favorite row of the garden—i love the mix of green (radishes, eggplant), purple (asian eggplant) and gold/brown (marigolds) all in one row. the only thing that could make this better is if the parsnips i planted alongside had germinated, haha.

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back up front i see a welcome sight—a pair of nearly ripe early tomatoes. another thing that will be on our dinner plates in a couple of days (i will let them ripen completely on the vine for maximum flavor).

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circling around to the front of the house, we are in the middle of lily season. besides a proliferation of day lilies, we have a wide assortment of asiatic lilies with their extravagant flowers and scents.

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showy stargazers seem pinker than ever (i feel like they were a lot more white in other years)

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and the fuchsia gifted to us by our friend anne marie is thriving under the eves of the front porch.

for now, just keeping the status quo is reward enough, with all that we’ve got on our plates at the moment.

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the new work/retail space is coming along nicely; david has finished painting and has begun moving yarn and equipment from the existing office.

on saturday afternoon, he and i took a trip to pittsburgh to procure shop furnishings. we were going to order them online and have them delivered but when we discovered how long that would take, david said we should go pick it up in person. i was a bit dubious about fitting it all in our little car, but he thought we should try. erica betz just laughed and laughed as we drove away . . .

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i panicked all the way through the store and mentioned several times that we could still back out, but david kept saying we should try.

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i was heartened a bit when we got back out to the parking lot to see a possible plan B in the distance. i texted erica betz with a photo of our haul and she was still laughing.

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david started loading the car; i swear he must have emailed someone to ask the exact dimensions of the boxes because the length fit exactly.

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and before i knew it, so did everything else. there wasn’t a sliver of space left for sunlight to penetrate and we had to leave the hatchback partly open with bungie cords to hold it, but it was all inside the car anyway.

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on the way to and fro, i knit on david’s hat and by the time we got home, it was done except for weaving in the ends, which i did this morning.

the pattern is proofed and ready to go as soon as we can get some nice photos (hopefully tomorrow!)

yesterday was sunday, which means a long morning run for me. i wish i had gotten out earlier, but i go to bed too late to be up at dawn. i need to train for some upcoming long races, but still nursing an overly tight hip muscle, so i have to be careful. it’s slowly getting back to normal and this weekend i did my longest run in a while with good results.

pieCrust07_14

we were having friends over for dinner (i love using our new kitchen and living space for this purpose!) so when i got home and showered, i got to work on baking a pie. while i’ve been pretty happy with the gluten free crusts based on my own pastry recipe, i’ve been so happy with the results from the america’s test kitchen gluten free cookbook that i tried their recipe this time.

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first i made the filling—black and blue berry—using a standard filling recipe with a bit of thickener, sugar, lemon juice and orange peel.

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i made sure ahead of time that i had all the ingredients listed for the dough, though i did substitute their second favorite flour for the blend they recommend (i will make that at a future date). it was a very hot and muggy afternoon which made for some gooey dough, but i managed to get it in the pan with a fluted crust without losing my enthusiasm for the project, haha.

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they don’t actually list a crumb topping for pie in the book so i tried their apple crisp topping

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which is made from a blend of toasted oats and nuts ground to a flour along with gluten free flour, butter and sugar. it was really tasty, perfect for apple crisp alright, though more crunchy than i prefer for pie. i’ll have to find another crumb top to use; maybe there’s a crumb cake topping i can use . . .

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anyway the pie turned out lovely, didn’t it?

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mark just lit up with delight when he saw it, haha (sorry, i couldn’t resist that photo).

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the filling ran a bit because it was still warm, but it set up wonderfully once it was cool. next time i’ll remember to start earlier . . . these leftovers were much appreciated at knitting class this afternoon.

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and speaking of this afternoon, today it was back to work for all of us. the first USA shipment of our purple club went to the post office this afternoon—that’s a lotta packages, right? tomorrow we are doing the photo shoot with the projects and on thursday, the patterns will be ready to download. i don’t know who’s more excited, us or our clubbies.

we are just about sold out for this club but we do have a few spots left; you can still get in on the fun if you act now.

being monday, sarah was moving a bit slow today—that is until larry, our beloved UPS guy pulled up with a double shipment of yarn.

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first, boxes of cotton to restock our online store; if there’s a color you’ve been waiting on, emily and erica will have it restocked by tomorrow afternoon.

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there are also a few new goodies in this batch—a chunky, super soft textured cotton yarn that will be delicious for simple cowls, scarves, and hats.

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i’ll let sarah tell you all about that in her ravelry cotton KAL when she opens some of the packages.

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and as if that weren’t enough goodness for one day, there were several MORE boxes of new yarn from another direction entirely—this time the fingering weight of our newest addition to the stone soup family, in travertine. this is the first brown we are adding to the stone soup line; we’re hoping to do a couple of shades in this more golden brown. isn’t it lovely? the caramel and white speckles just knock my socks off.

today our friend bil came over to put all the shop furniture together (bil likes to put ikea furniture together). i think we’ll be ready very soon to do an unveiling. so sit tight and we’ll be back with you in a few days; happy week ahead!

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Cotton and Cashmere Restock!

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

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Big news! Organic cotton fingering is now stocked in the store! This is pure heaven to knit with and Budding Apple would be a perfect fit!

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budding apple

Wouldn’t this shawl be perfect in a natural colorway? It would be a versatile neutral piece to add just a bit of softness and warmth to a vivid outfit or a summer dress on a cool evening.

LOVe is another shawl possibility

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and knit in the petite size would make a great accessory for a lightweight denim jacket.

I could also see Scotty in the organic cotton fingering,

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giving the hat that extra bit of drape and slouch. Wouldn’t it be cute with some little delicate floral buttons? The yarn comes in shades of natural – khaki, painted hills, sandy twist, and straw harvest – and the colors are limited.

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We won’t be restocking the fingering weight, so be sure to snag the color you want soon. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Speaking of limited edition, the coveted cashmere from Bare Naked Knitspot club is back in stock too!

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Anne designed Petit Pois and Pea Trellis

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for this gorgeous yarn and we have a very limited restock of cashmere in the shop. The patterns are part of the ongoing BNK 2014 ebook. We’re only in the third installment of this club and Anne has already designed eight patterns! There’s lots more in store for the remaining three months. Even though the yarn portion of the club is sold out, the pattern ebook can be purchased via Knitspot here or ravelry here.

Since we’re on the topic of Knitspot clubs, the 1st installment of PASSION is being packaged as we speak

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and shipped out to international customers!

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Then we’ll start shipping out the domestic packages by mid-month, for the anticipated exclusive club design that’s released July 17. We are so excited about this club all about purple! If you want to be part of the fun, or if you want to double dip on your yarn portion, it’s not too late. There’s a few memberships left here.

While everyone is busy getting the new retail space ready, new yarn is arriving by the truck load! Stone Soup is arriving daily and we will soon be restocked in all colors and both weights. Also, the sold out organic cotton colors from Ecobutterfly will be restocked any day. Keep checking our social sites for updates. There’s lots happening around here!

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

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aah…summer has arrived. Everything I so dearly missed is back – sunshine, blue skies, puffy clouds and summer fun. And the start of this summer has been especially fun through the eyes of a little one.

Last summer was an absolute hoot watching Padraig play in a kiddie pool for the first time or swung through a sprinkler. With all that we experienced last summer, we thought it couldn’t get any better than that. And then this summer arrived.

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He’s now walking (really, running everywhere) and it seems like every day, to his surprise, a new word pops out of his mouth.

Last week, he jumped at the chance to kayak with Daddy out to the area of the lake where I was paddle boarding. I couldn’t believe this because not too long ago he feared deep waters. Matt said the whole route he had his arm up on the side, so comfortable, like he’d been doing it forever.

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This weekend he’ll attend his first 4th of July BBQ full of good food and lots more firsts. I can’t wait to see what he embraces.

Speaking of firsts, everyone at HQ is busy doing inventory so we can make the big move into our first retail space! We are so excited we can’t stand it. The girls are busy counting and recounting skeins and organizing them into bins,

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while carpet is being laid at the new space

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and David is painting.

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If all goes as scheduled, the big move will start in a week! Soon after, we’ll announce hours of operation and you can start planning a road trip with friends to Canton, Ohio.

Sarah’s really enjoying the experience of her first KAL. She’s taking photos along the way

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and posting them in the group, and new people are joining her every day. I just got my sport weight in the mail (wow, Knitspot ships unbelievable fast)

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and I’m ready to cast on Zig Zag Mitts over the holiday weekend. I’ll be sure to post progress pics! We have organic cotton lace, sport, and worsted IN STOCK and next week fingering will be added to the store. Join the KAL here to get some ideas of what everyone is making!

In the Bare Naked Wools group, the Hunter Hammersen KAL is producing some lovely socks in Bare Naked Wools!

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Pinus_silvestris_judyindiana

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Even though lots of people are wrapping up their sock projects, some are just beginning.

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Please join us this summer knitting socks here. We have a very loose end date (thank goodness, i’m barely past the cuff of my Stone Soup Fingering ones). It’s a fun group and Hunter has LOTS of sock designs to choose from.

Maybe you can plan a road trip with some friends and work on your KAL projects on the way to some fiber fests! Bare Naked Wools will be a first-time vendor at:

Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair  Newark, Ohio   August 2,3

Michigan Fiber Festival  Allegan, Michigan   August 15,16,17

Susan is planning some extra special things for these events! Hope you can make it!

Speaking of Susan, she wanted to remind you that purple is the color of the year and the first-ever purple yarn club starts shipping to members next week!

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There’s a handful of PASSION memberships left. Snag one here and get your purple on!

Anne is filming another Craftsy class this week

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and she’ll pop in over the weekend to tell you all about it. I can’t wait! I LOVE her classes! Happy weekend all!