Archive for the ‘book reviews/events’ Category

we get around

Friday, August 29th, 2014

 

 

 

 

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to continue on the theme of finished knits, my friend susie brought her completed capricorn triangle to our monday knitting class. this shawl, knit in our cuddly chebris lace yarn, was the april feature of our 2014 bare naked knitspot club and members of my monday class have been working through it together over the summer.

janet finished hers a while back and i’m blanking on where debby is with hers, but susie is now the proud owner of a finished AND blocked copy of her own. and as you can see, she’s pretty chuffed about it, haha; what’s not to love about this photo?

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debbie s. will be the next finisher—she’s been plugging away on the first half of her edging and was victorious in getting to the halfway mark at last monday’s class. seeing susie’s finished gave her a little something to look forward to (pattern is exclusive to club members until april 2015, but eBook memberships are available here; KAL for the project can be joined in our BNK rav group).

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just that morning i had blocked a couple of things myself—one of them was my completed empreinte crescent shawl, knit in the beautiful forest mist shade of organic color grown cotton.

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i am totally in love with this piece all over again—it is so different, yet equally fetching in light, refreshing cotton lace. and wow, so great to finally see it off the needles, huh?

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i think this hem lace is one of the most stunning patterns i’ve ever had the privilege to knit—it just knocks your socks off, doesn’t it? it’s really pretty in the rectangular version too, where more pattern results in a piece with lots of wow factor.

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and the edging, short though it be, adds that little extra-exquisite touch—again, its impact is amplified in the rectangular piece where it runs along the full length of the piece.

once it was unpinned, i got to play with it on the dress form

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i had to fan myself a little bit when i stepped back to see it.

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the drape of this fabric is so alluring and it does so effortlessly; you don’t have to fuss to make it look incredible.

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just toss it on and fluff—talk about power dressing, haha.

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i knit the smallest size of the pattern, using needles one size smaller than it called for (3.25 mm and 2.75 mm). i used less than one ball of the ecobutterfly cotton lace—about 450 yards/1.3 ounces; your mileage may vary. the piece blocked out to about the same as it did in the wool yarn on slightly larger needles; plenty large enough for a good sized scarf on me.

i am completely thrilled with the outcome!

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on the same day i also blocked a sample scarf that karolyn knit for us, using the unusual purple fifo cotton lace that was shipped with the july installment of the passion club. an openwork celtic knot is placed at the back of the neck.

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this cotton yarn grows in an extremely deep and rare shade that runs the gamut from the color of purple beets or carrots to a brownish mauve. we were very lucky to procure for our club shipment the most purple examples of its type—much more so that the heavier weight versions we have in sport, fingering, and worsted weight.

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this yarn knits into a completely different fabric from the green and brown color grown cottons. with a fiber texture more like linen, the fabric is sturdy like denim and has the same propensity to be a bit stiff at first, softening with time and handling. the design is the rectangle version of the club project, knit into a fabric pattern inspired by bandana prints. this pattern will be released when the club pattern comes up for general release in november.

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i knit a bocce hat from the fifo cotton in sport weight, which i also blocked and washed the other day, but forgot to photograph. i’ll do that when i get home; i’d like talk a little more about how the fabric opens up and changes with washing.

well, that was monday—we were to travel on wednesday and i wanted to use up the various vegetables we had in the fridge before we left.

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so once everyone went home, i got to work in the kitchen on a curry. i think just about everything in it was from the garden except the tofu.

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yum-yum; summer eating is so good! and the best part is that there was plenty to put in the freezer so when we get home, we can just thaw and heat for dinner.

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first thing the next morning we hit the road for albany. as usual i drove the first half and david took the last half, which meant i was free to knit til we got there.

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i brought a few different projects along, but the one i worked on in the car was my third bocce cap in our kent DK yarn—i’m trying to get a few samples knit in different fibers so we can have a variety for the photo shoot.

i finished the brim and did my increase round, then changed needles for the body. i always enjoy passing that milestone; even though the size grows a bunch all in one shot, my hands love changing to larger needles and a looser gauge.

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with the ease of a more flexible fabric, the body pattern just flies along—lots of stockinette and a pattern that begs for more rows to be added. by the time we got to albany and settled in, i was well into the hat body.

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i worked on a different project that evening, but the next day, i knit on it while i checked email and ravelry and later when we went to the movies, i put on a few more rounds.

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and on today’s trip to massachusetts, i got a bunch more done—i’m almost ready now to start the top decreases.

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today i finally did some running after almost a month of rehabbing my ankle from its mysterious injury. i’ve been biking a lot to keep in shape while it heals, but have been hesitant to run or even walk on it, since the last time i tried, i had a backslide with it. i figured this would be a good time, while i was away and getting more sleep and some relaxation.

so yesterday i went for a good four mile walk and today i did a mix of walking and running, finishing with two miles of running. the roads near my mom’s place offer some nice shady woods as well as neighborhoods—there are even trails leading into the pine bush nature area to explore. often those are way too muddy to navigate when i’m visiting, but today they were good and dry. it felt great to be out there again; i’m hoping i can keep it up. so far, it still pain free and i’ll try again tomorrow. unfortunately, i’m fairly certain that next weekend’s half marathon is out—a big disappointment since the race route takes us along all the streets i run nearly every day; i was really looking forward to it.

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yesterday we went with my mom to the movies in the afternoon and then to a terrific photography exhibit in the evening at the albany institute of history and art. i really enjoyed that; if you live nearby, it is well worth checking out.

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then today we were lucky to take a trip with my cousin to massMOCA museum of contemporary art. this was such a treat; one thing i really miss about living in NYC is the access to world class museums. i’m going to tell you all about that in the next post as this one is getting too long now, but i do want to show you one beautiful thing i saw today (among many others)

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this adorable doggie named flannery, who stole my heart when she posed so readily for my camera. what a charmer! we had a wonderful day filled with art and my head was just about to explode with visual excitement by the time we left.

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back at my mom’s place, we made a nice dinner of fish and vegetables, including—guess what?—green beans from our garden, which we all enjoyed.

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now it’s time to join my mom and david in watching a movie (we sort of glut ourselves on AMC classics when we visit, haha). i’m working on a secret project this evening; let’s see if we can sneak up on it to spy . . .

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drat, not quick enough; it heard me coming and zipped itself up tight. a sure signal that it’s time to stop typing and go knit. see you soon.

Craftsy: Finishing Handknits

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

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Are you holding onto your hats!? Anne has a new Craftsy class! Awhile back she flew to Denver with lots of large bags filled with notes and step outs.

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for a secret project with these guys

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and we got just a little bit of behind the scene fun

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and now all the details can be revealed—it’s a class on FINISHING!

As you know, finishing is one of Anne’s favorite subjects. She wants everyone else to enjoy it too and she feels that more knitters would get jazzed about finishing tasks if only they felt better equipped. SO many knitters feel they can’t do it well, but Anne doesn’t think it’s a matter of talent—it’s really about arming yourself well and a willingness to adventure into new territory.

Cuz let’s face it—who doesn’t feel good about learning new things?

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I love all of Anne’s previous classes—Grafting and Button Bands and Buttonholes—and this new class on Finishing is a MUST HAVE. I’m that knitter who pays/begs/barters for someone to sew a seam, insert a zipper, etc. Or, sadly, I leave a project 99% completed because I fear messing it up by finishing. Anne has always told me that I can handle it, I just need patience and a little trial and error. And I always say, “if only you were there when I was finishing.” Well, now she can be.

The Essential Guide to Finishing Handknits is a collection of beginning and intermediate finishing techniques which focuses on achieving that clean, polished look you crave for your completed knits. Lesson one and two cover the essentials you need for all finishing tasks, but after that, I can jump to any lesson I need.

One day, that might be to a few tips on blocking

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Or another, I might want to see my options for seaming.

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This is what Craftsy calls a reference class—basically a wide survey of finishing topics with as much helpfulness as they can cram into the time allotted!  This “kitchen sink” format works a bit like an encyclopedia, touching on a wide number of areas and offering the best and most popular technique or two for each, then refers the viewer to other resources for more in-depth coverage (such as other Craftsy classes on specific finishing topics, like Anne’s Button Bands and Buttonholes class or her Grafting tutorial).

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It has just the right amount of information on each subject without overwhelming you with a jungle of material. No longer do you need to fear new techniques—you can look them up ahead of time to see what’s involved and quell your fears about trying them for the first time!

Want to suss out whether you’re up to sewing in a hem or inserting a zipper in that sweater project you’re considering? It’s in there. And later, when you need step by step instructions for executing that—or just a quick tip or two—this class has you covered.

Anne can be right in my living room and I can watch it over and over until it clicks. I’m beyond excited! I’ll be able to execute a seam

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that looks like this when I’m finished.

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Watch out world! I may be able to finish a Highlander in Stone Soup DK!

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The Essential Guide to Finishing Handknits is available now here! I’m excited to hone some new skills and build some confidence! The winner for the FREE class in our giveaway has been notified by email. Congrats!

Fall Show Season is Here!

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

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Bare Naked Wools was on the road again! This past weekend my friend Kim and I packed up the car and headed to Allegan, Michigan, to meet Susan and Emily to set up a popup store at Michigan Fiber Festival.

Susan packed up every yarn, including all the new stuff,

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and filled every square inch of a Uhaul!

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This was going to be a big show and we had to have lots of stock for natural yarn lovers!

While Susan drove, Emily worked on Squeeze Me (yes, she’s knitting now!)

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and her lovely driver even pulled over to fix a dropped stitch!

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We all made it to Allegan and set up the booth in SUPER CRAZY WIND! Thanks to helpful booth neighbors, and a few cinder blocks and bricks, we got the tent erected and secured so Kim and Susan could start laying out the displays.

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The next morning after a lovely sleep and meals at my parents’ house (HUGE thanks to them for hosting the booth staff!) it was time for customers.

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We helped lots of knitters build new projects! Cabled Keyhole Scarf was a popular new kit in Travertine

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and lots of knitters were running to the booth for the new Freefall and Floozy patterns for Chebris Lace. Kim helped a knitter build a Color Affection with Stone Soup Fingering

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plus we all built lots of Knitspot wraps, blankets, and sweater projects for shoppers.

We met many new knitters who fell in love with Bare Naked Wools for the first time, and also lots of familiar ravelers stopped by.

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kakayers realized she needed to purchase a new yarn card because we’ve added lots of colors and yarns since she bought her first one.

These ravelry friends (jukaheff, libelulaknitter, CrafTeaMama, my3greys) were very happy to pose for a group photo with their new goodies!

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And CrafTeaMama dropped off pecan brown sugar shortbread from her kitchen. The cookies did not last long! Yum!

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When I floated around on my break, I noticed lots of Knitspot samples in the Knitting Notions booth, and Briar Rose Fibers was promoting Yarn in the Barn.

Anne is teaching workshops (details here) at the event and BNWs will have a pop up store! To advertise the collaboration, Chris is showcasing Knitspot knits in BNWs and BRF.

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Highlander, Sheltie Triangle, and Hot Waffles get a totally new look with handdyed accents! When I saw all of these pieces I immediately thought a similar pairing would work for the Oatmeal Stout KAL in the BNWs ravelry group.

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You only need one Bare Naked Wools yarn in your project to participate in the KAL fun! Join us here.

The next October popup for Bare Naked Wools is Rhinebeck After Party. The event starts with shopping Sunday night and then three days exploring color in workshops with Anne. Last year, attendees had so much fun extending their whirlwind NYS Sheep and Wool Festival weekend at our after party. They loved meeting up with ravelry friends, sharing their fiber haul, shopping for new projects, learning new techniques and of course lots and lots of free knitting time. We pretty much take over the hotel lobby and it’s a fun knitting hangout all day and into the evening. Attendees love the free time built into the schedule to work on class projects or tour the local area with friends. There are openings left in all workshops and we have scored a great hotel rate (details here). We can’t wait to see you!

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summer fine

Monday, July 28th, 2014

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though it’s been mostly chilly and rainy over the last few days, i did manage to get this sunny photo during a rare break in the clouds.

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as i stepped out the back door on my way to the store the other day, this little butterfly was so intent on exploring the marigolds that it allowed me to get really close up to take some pictures.

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i hovered above, snapping every few seconds until i got the money shot for you (it didn’t take long).

the garden is just buzzing with butterfly and bee activity these days. our neighbors got a hive in the spring and we are visited by their honey bees as well as a host of bumblebees, wasps, and other types.

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the result being plenty of good eating for us. i just collect produce daily until i have enough to make something and then spend some time in the kitchen on rainy days cooking it up (more on that later).

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i was kind of tied up with other matters on friday, when we opened our little retail space to customers for the first time. i ran over in the morning to “check in” and sarah put me right to work figuring out a solution for displaying our buttons more prettily, haha.

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and of course after that, it was one thing after another, tidying up this corner and that, trying our different ways to display samples and merchandise. sarah concentrated on getting all the structural pieces in place first and now we’re working on warming things up with loads of luscious samples. it’s a work in progress, so to speak.

during our first weekend, we enjoyed visits from friends who drove in from an hour or more away, as well as some who live more locally. it was a lot of fun to chat with everyone who stopped by. we’re really excited to begin having classes and yarn tastings soon.

all of this evolved so quickly that we’ve barely had a moment to really plan how it would look; one minute there was a beehive buzzing in the first floor of our house and then next thing we knew, we had an offsite space for it. and then the possibility of making a shop presented itself—well, it’s been a whirlwind month, alright. we’re pulling our look together as quickly as we can . . .

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next weekend we’ll be open during the same hours—please stop in if you are in the neighborhood for any of the hall of fame events. we are just a block or two off the grand parade route on saturday morning and only a few blocks from the hall of fame itself—come on over and say hello!

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this weekend we were also excited to be sponsoring a running event here in town! the hands for hope run was a benefit to support TIQVAH, an after school program here in canton that provides students with new learning experiences, a place to do homework, and support for making positive choices as well as healthy snacks and meals before heading home at the end of the day.

i was SO excited to run in this event and wear the shirt with the knitspot logo, but as luck would have it, i developed a bit of tendonitis in my ankle on thursday that took me down. i had to be content with cheering everyone on at the start line, pout.

i also had to sit out the pigskin run on sunday morning, a hall of fame race. thankfully though, my ankle seems to be benefitting from the rest; it feels LOT better already and i’m thinking that tomorrow morning i should be able to go walking on it, weather permitting. if that goes well, then i’ll try some easy running on wednesday, or a run/walk pattern. i don’t want to take any chances; i have a couple of big races coming up later in august and september that i definitely don’t want to miss.

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late last week i finally got my new pedal pusher cardigan into the wash for a good wet blocking.

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wow did that go nicely! the sweater blocked out perfectly to the exact size it was meant to be, both in width and length.

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and the fabric looks awesome—knit in our 100 percent corriedale confection worsted—i can’t get over how consistent and smooth it is.

and with hardly any encouragement either; i washed it in the machine on the hand wash cycle in a mesh bag, then just shook it out and laid it flat, smoothing here and there.

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this is what a beautifully balanced yarn will do for you.

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i was a little behind on getting the pockets knit up, so once i had them done, i soaked them separately in a bowl of soapy water and pinned them flat to dry on my pressing bench.

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once i figured out where i wanted them placed, i stitched one on during my class this afternoon (i still need to steam it) and will do the other on wednesday night, i think.

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i love how it looks with the pockets applied and they’ll be so useful. they totally turn this cardigan into a jacket i can run around in for a good part of the late fall and winter. with a great scarf or shawlette at the neck and a slouchy cap?? so much more comfortable than a big coat, especially in the car . . .

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doesn’t it look great form the back? the fabric has such nice drape; the consistency really shines in this view.

and i used just a little more that four skeins of yarn. while technically it’s a worsted weight, which sounds heavy, the springiness of the fiber makes an airy yarn that goes a long way and produces a garment that is light and very breathable to wear.

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now i just have to decide on the buttons. i’m down to two options—these cedar ones that i love, but which might be too big and a bit rough for the buttonholes. or some bone ones that are kind of a marbly greenish gray.

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i’m kind of leaning towards these because they’re so smooth and then also, you know how i love the hand-me-down-from-grampa look.

i decided to give it some thought while i worked in the kitchen this weekend.

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there was a lot to do—on the one hand, i had a sink full of vegetables which i wanted to turn into a pot of ratatouille.

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and on the other hand, a tidal wave of green beans to square away (these are all from a four or five foot run of climbing beans that matured in just the last few days).

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when i woke up yesterday morning to the sound of rain steadily drumming on the roof, i knew it was the perfect day to spend in the kitchen, starting with the vegetable stew. i cut up each selection into nice chunks and sautéed each one separately before adding to a pot of simmering tomatoes

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from eggplant to peppers to onions and squash, the dish progressed until it was a full pot of deliciousness that just needed some seasoning and fresh basil added. mmm.

while that simmered, i put a big pot of water on for blanching the beans and got to work taking the tops off. thank goodness for audiobooks when a tedious task is at hand, right?

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before long they were all cleaned and ready to go and once you get to that point, the rest is but a few minutes work getting them blanched and into and ice bath afterward. i ended up with three bags of plain beans and two cartons of green beans in sauce for the freezer, plus one carton of green beans in a vinaigrette for our dinner that night.

which we also ate with our little harvest of green peas. i had planted just a few feet of pea vines to see if they would grow undisturbed by rabbits. squirrels, or birds. lo and behold, they did. we only harvested one meal’s worth, but next time i’ll do more.

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tonight we’ll eat that ratatouille with some cod fish and another night, we’ll eat some with pasta. about half the pot was divided into two containers for the freezer; in january we’ll eat that and pretend it’s july again, hehe.

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i have more blog fodder, including the results of testing the sport weight confection yarn, but i think i’ll save that  for the next post. i don’t want to get boring on you . . .