ivar

Posted on 16 CommentsPosted in patterns

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well, you saw it the other day as it progressed from a bunch of yarn cakes to a finished garment, each careful step following the last. and today you get to see it in motion—ivar, my new favorite sweater, knit in our stone soup fingering yarn, color slate.

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it is soooo light and airy, but cozy too—i was surprised how warm i felt inside it during the photo shoot the other day, which was sunny, but a cool, breezy 41 degrees.

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this is the tunic length cardigan version in a mashup of two sizes (because that’s usually what fits me best)—the third size for the body (where i like some extra room for layering) and the second size for everything above  the armholes (where i like it more tailored to my small shoulders).

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ivar is meant to have a casual, “boyfriend” fit that relies on the drape of the fabric for contouring rather than side seam shaping, with an ever-so-slightly off the shoulder sleeve cap (think golf cardigan).

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but i can totally visualize it with a shorter, tighter, sexy librarian fit too!

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our version of the pattern includes options for short or long length, pullover or cardigan styling, and male/female sizing. i plan to knit another right away as a hip-length pullover.

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i’ve been saying that i will knit the pullover in stone soup fingering yarn again, using one of the new shades we are expecting soon, but the more i think about it, the more i wonder if i should use breakfast blend fingering yarn instead? i haven’t really knit with that in a while and never a garment . . .
hmm, decisions, decisions.

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or maybe i’ll just go with the stone soup again—it really turned out so lovely and just what i wanted. i can’t decide!

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to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the ivar page in the knitspot pattern shop.

if you like the handsome look of this version and are thinking about buying our stone soup blend to knit it, click here to view the kit which david and sarah have put together—it includes the yarn in your choice of stone soup shades plus a free copy of our pattern.

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many, many thanks to my friend vanessa who speedily test knit the original version in brooklyn tweed loft for its inclusion in wool people 7, where i am honored and grateful to be represented. jared, bristol, leila, and all the staff at brooklyn tweed are a complete pleasure to work with—not to mention the beautiful yarns they make!

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and last but not at ALL least, thank you david, for once again making me look much MUCH better than i really do, haha.

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back in stock!

Posted on 12 CommentsPosted in designing, food and garden, lace/shawls, projects

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earlier this year we released bay leaf and lime as a limited edition kit, which proved so popular that it was sold out within a day, no doubt due to the brilliant work of dyer rita pettys of yarn hollow. her special-just-for-us colorway—lime rickie—was an instant hit.

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well, i can hardly believe it but our three-month exclusivity period has passed and the pattern is now available in both the knitspot pattern shop and our ravelry pattern shop. you can read more about the design evolution and the see lots more photos by viewing the original blog post, which reveals a most unexpected side of our sweet friend helena.

we’ve had so many emails in the past few months asking if the lime rickie yarn would ever become available again, that we decided to bring it back for the pattern release, in a reissue of the original kit, which includes yarn and pattern. click here to view more information or to purchase the kit.

now, the fun with this project really hit its stride once our ravelry KAL got underway; not only did participants enjoy working with this luscious yarn, but the knitting was loads of fun too. click here to see some of their beautiful results. knitspot KALs are a bit different; we don’t set any time limits so many of them have been underway for years, haha. we like them to be easy going knit groups where you can pop in or out whenever you work on the featured project (or just to chat if you prefer). this allows participants to knit at their own speed or to work on multiple version if they like; it’s a win-win and i hope you will consider joining in. many of the original knitters are working on their second or third B&L, so you won’t at all be left out—just fashionably late.

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in other news, our own version of the ivar sweater pattern will be ready to go tomorrow—check in here in the early afternoon (EST) to see our photo shoot and purchase the pattern if you desire the knitspot publication. it will include options for short/long versions, a pullover style, and men’s sizing along with women’s—please note that, by agreement, we will not be able to sell this version on ravelry nor place it in anyone’s ravelry library, but if you like options, this might be a good choice for you.

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meanwhile, spring is slo-o-owly springing, kind of like a creaky old man getting up from his cozy chair—so reluctant that forced ejection is needed.

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this has made the spring racing season interesting indeed. two weeks ago i ran a half marathon roasting  in shorts and a tank under a blazing sun and today for the hall of fame marathon, i bundled up; the temperature was once again in the 30s at start time. and i wasn’t sorry; when i crossed the finish line i still had every stitch on and was all zipped up too; the temperature had only risen a degree or two, despite the sun.

this was the largest field i have run in yet, which was an interesting experience. actually, it was a great experience; really organized and well-run. once we were out on the course (which was completely closed to cars the whole way)i never felt like i was squeezed for space, even though i ran amidst a pretty dense group most of the time. i think there were a lot more people running at “my” pace and that kept it flowing well.

david was on hand for the start to take some nice photos as the sun came up. i was excited to run, but experiencing a bit of um, stomach distress, probably due to having to eat WAY earlier than i am used to.

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he got a great shot of me coming out of the start gate; i was surprised to be assigned to the B corral, based on my previous race times and my estimate of my finish time. it was further toward the front that i expected, so i placed myself near the back of my corral, out of the way of faster runners.

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this proved wise; at the finish i saw a lot of the same people i had started with.

the first few miles were a bit rough and i  had to make a pit stop at mile four that cost me about five minutes, but after that i felt much better and the course was a good one for a long race.

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i ended up with a pretty good time considering the delay. the clock time is adjusted when they subtract the time it took me to cross the start line from my position in the lineup—about three minutes. in fact, my actual running time was my best effort yet in a longer race and i ran most of my miles in under nine minutes (good for me!). as usual, the last two miles were the slowest, but still improved.

still, i was really glad to cross that finish line and get back into the warm car where david was waiting. seriously, i don’t know how people run a whole marathon. i actually thought about that when i crossed—the idea that i might continue on to run the same distance in addition to what i just ran made me cringe. i don’t know if i’ll ever be able to do it (however, a friend of mine just ran boston at the age of 67, so you never know).

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after the race and a nice long soaking bath, the day had warmed a little (but just a little), so i took a turn around the yarn in order to get a few pics for the blog. everyone has been asking about our yard and garden and the truth is, it’s all just starting to come to life. these hostas on the south side of the house are the biggest plants we have right now.

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the big guys in back are WAY behind them, just beginning to poke out of the ground. i haven’t see any fiddleheads yet and no may apple sprouts either. of course, it’s not may just yet, but usually we are seeing at least a nubbin or two by now. the ground is still cold though, so i don’t blame them much.

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lily of the valley are springing up and many of them even have buds. soon they will open their leaves to form a nice carpet across the back yard. looks like we’re going to have some warmer temperatures and some much needed rain as well, later in the week. hope springs eternal . . .

we’ve had precious few tulips so far, but the ones we have are very pretty; tomorrow i’ll pick a bunch for our table to enjoy during knitting classes this week. and there are buds all over the apple tree too; though my photos all came out blurry. i’ll have t get more later in the week to show you.

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last week a gigantic box arrived via UPS and the other night david unpacked it—a new wheelbarrow, which he proceeded to our together. don’t you just love a man who reads the instruction sheet?

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with it, he has been taking dark, velvety dirt from the bottom of our big compost pit and spreading it over the vegetable patch, which has been mulching down form the last garden we had two years ago. once he can till it all under, we’ll be ready to plant; hopefully some time around mother’s day for the early stuff and a bit later for the more delicate plants (i have feeling we’ll see some very late frost this year).

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after my tour of the garden, i was pretty beat—i settled in with some knitting on my arts and anne cardigan and finished listening to the audiobook i’ve been reading. by 5 pm i was in need of  amp, so i headed for bed. wow, nothing felt so good as that sleep!

and that brings me to the end of my post for today—i’ll be back tomorrow with photos of ivar and to list the pattern in the shop; stay tuned!

when old becomes new again

Posted on 14 CommentsPosted in designing, projects, spinning and fiber, yarn and dyeing

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i used to have this sweater that i wore ALL the time—that kind of pullover that you grab most often because it is the right weight and level of softness for almost every day use. i knit it for myself many years ago while living temporarily in nashville, with sock yarn that i purchased on vacation in ithaca, NY. all of my new york sweaters were far too heavy for the climate down south, but i needed something for chilly weather.

using measurements from a thin store-bought sweater that fit pretty well and the data from some swatches i made, i did some calculations and cast on for a simple pullover with vertical textured panels to add a retro look (this was the early 90s; thrifting was big). what i remember about this sweater is that the yarn was rather limp and not as good quality as i would have liked; our choices weren’t as great back then, but its alpaca content gave me hope that it might be better. it felt like it took forever to knit, although nowadays i knit this sort of thing with thinner yarn all the time, not giving it a second thought (that said, it’s a real thrill to knit up a sweater in a few days with big fat yarn, haha!).

the other thing i remember about this sweater is that i finally learned to seam properly while finishing it. i was taking a course about teaching techniques and discovered the mattress stitch, something i had not learned from my grandma, who never made sweaters.

while taking this course and finishing this sweater, another momentous event occurred—i met my dear friend heather, another lifelong knitter and avid reader; haha, in my mind she will be forever linked to seaming. neither of us had made friends easily in nashville, nor knew anyone else who knit, so we practically fell into each other’s arms, haha. we became fast friends and from then on, met at least once a week to knit and watch a good movie or talk about books.

mind you, this all happened over twenty years ago—isn’t it amazing that the memories we attach to our knitting projects and finished pieces can be so indelible?

as you can see in the above photo, i wore that sweater so often that the fabric began to thin and wear completely away.

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holes opened up in places that were not even stressed by wear—and not moth damage either; the fibers just disappeared (this is a phenomenon i have noticed in other garments knit from superwash yarn, so i suspect that the stress of that process on the fiber has something to do with it).

i began to look around for  yarn to knit a copy; fortunately, i had taken copious notes when i knit the original and had the handwritten pattern filed with others from that period.

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messy, but useful nonetheless. the bigger concern was finding the right yarn, one that would create a fabric of similar weight and density, but one i would enjoy knitting with as well. superwash yarns have the right softness and drape, but i had become wary about using them for garments, as they did not seem to hold their shape or wear awfully well. and many other fingering yarns i liked had too much twist, making them heavier than i desired.

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i used some handspun alpaca yarn to knit a similar garment, but it turned out heavy also. it’s a sweater that i wear a lot and and some day soon i will write a pattern for it, too—but it’s not like the original.

i put this project aside to work other ideas while i mulled over the yarn situation. periodically i would think of it, wishing i had just that weight of sweater to wear. when i got the call for submissions for  wool people 7, i hemmed and hawed about what to submit. i know their aesthetic is very simple, but i have a deep-running insecurity that somehow, simple isn’t good enough or designerly enough. crazy, i know, but  there are just enough critics out there to perpetuate this kind of self doubt. i let the submission deadline pass, thinking i just didn’t have anything to contribute.

about two weeks later, i got a note from jared, asking if i had anything i was mulling over that might be right for WP7. as it happened, after letting the deadline slip by, i struck on the idea of doing my pullover in brooklyn tweed LOFT—i had some on hand and finally realized that it might be just the right yarn for my sweater; in fact a bit better than the original yarn because it had more body without weight. i was kicking myself that i hadn’t thought of it earlier, in time to submit as a possible WP project.

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i knit up some swatches in LOFT left over from my wheaten design, to be sure it would work and outlined the idea for him. he accepted it and we were on our way; i gave him vanessa’s contact information so they could send yarn for her test knit.

of course i would knit a prototype too, but didn’t want to ask for more yarn for myself.

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i got thinking about it and realized that one of my favorite samples and a perpetual favorite with customers in our popup shops, is our wheaten wrap—another BT favorite which is knit in stone soup fingering yarn, an almost perfect substitute for the BT LOFT.

we also had a test batch of shetland fingering yarn that i swatched

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which was lovely, but so far, we have not been able to get enough of the fiber to go into production (grr). just about that time, we got our second round of stone soup colors from the mill and it was decided—i would knit the long cardigan in stone soup slate while vanessa knit the official WP7 sample in brooklyn tweed LOFT colorway, faded quilt.

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well of course she was done far ahead of me—i was working in fits and starts on mine, wedging it in between other projects, deadlines, and travel. finally, as the release date neared, i realized i had better get a move on and surprisingly, the knitting fairly zoomed along, once i made it a priority. i knit both fronts during my trip to san diego at the end of january; one on the plane out there and one on the plane back.

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then i had to put it aside to work on some club projects. i began to show teasers in march, when i was putting the final rows on that second front. i cast on the back and knit the whole thing on my trip to the west coast for kim’s wedding. i knit half a sleeve while kade and i watched movies on a blustery morning of tropical downpours.

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i figured it wouldn’t hurt to show you my stack of pieces because they were unrecognizable as a garment. once i was home and had caught up, i worked both sleeves in the space of a week and the knitting was complete.

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by  monday i was blocking and knitting on the button and neck bands.

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things progress quickly from here if one can concentrate, so i hid in my study for a couple of days and told everyone to leave me alone. i listened to audiobooks while i stitched, stopping only to steam press the seams in between each step.

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ok, well, maybe i took a minute or two to admire the results—can you blame me?

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more pressing after the sleeve caps got stitched to the armscyes—you can begin to see what lovely drape this fabric has. sarah really likes the tweedy effect in the darker shades; every time i look at it i hear her say, i LUV those speckles.

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this one was taken just before i stitched the underarm and side seams; it almost looks like a sweater now!

which meant that it was time to look at buttons.

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we had too many choices and all on hand in the quantities i needed—time to call in the reinforcements. haha, except sarah is as indecisive as i am. we finally eliminated the second ones from the right.

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i loved these vintage glass ones from germany—way cool and they pulled out brown tones form the fabric that you wouldn’t otherwise see, necessarily.

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then there were these awesome dark shell buttons, which i loved not only for their amazing colorations, but because they are so shiny; they make a nice feature against the matte tweed fabric.

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and these horn ones are spectacular, too—in fact, i was convinced that these were the ones.

we decided to think about it while i finished the sweater gave it a nice hot, soapy bath. i basted the button bands closed to help the garment keep its shape throughout.

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i soaked it once in very hot sudsy water with my favorite wool soap. after letting the oils and dust lift off and the water became cool, i squeezed it out, rinsed it, and then put it in the hand wash cycle with some other woolens for a second wash and a good spinout.

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afterward, i reshaped it and laid it flat to dry; the heat was on that night so i made sure to flip and reshape it every hour or so and it dried in a few hours.

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i threw it on in the morning over my sweats; i was so anxious to see how it fit and if it felt like my old sweater, the way i hoped. it DID and the fabric looked great, so smooth! sarah snapped a few photos which don’t really do it justice, but we were excited.

ok, now to return to the question of the buttons . . .

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by his time we had eliminated the glass buttons because we thought they might be too heavy. i laid out the horn buttons on the sweater so we could get a good look

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and then did the same for the shell buttons.

wow, it was a tough choice, but we both decided the shell buttons won out—they provided a nice contrast in both color and lustre and after doing a bit of research, we found that we can supply these as an add-on for the sweater kit for a fairly small additional cost.

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yes, i love them; i think we made the right choice. and i love the cardigan; it is everything i had hoped it would be. david managed to get some nice photos of me wearing my ivar while the weather was so fine yesterday; we’ll show you those when our pattern is all set for release (any moment now).

you can purchase ivar now on ravelry from brooklyn tweed OR wait just a bit for our own version, which should be ready in the next day or so.

the knitspot version will have options for short and long lengths, as well as pullover and cardigan styles, with sizing for both men and women from XS to 6X (due to our agreement with brooklyn tweed, this version will not be available in our ravelry patten shop). david has put together a kit as well; the pattern will be free with it so if you think this yarn is for you, it’s a nice bonus.

ok, now; i’m off to wait to hear form our proofreader ronni; as soon as she gives me the green light, i’ll get the pattern up so we can all start knitting!

kiltie

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in patterns

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the kiltie cowl and mitts design first appeared in our december 2012 installment of the fall in full color club and what a reception it got at the time!

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this adorable set has it all—kick pleats, “plaid” textured fabric, and super special button detailing—all in easy-to-work knit/purl combinations that are worked in the round. seriously simple and cute, am i wrong?

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coupled with the yarn pick of that month—a gorgeous luxury fiber blend by spirit trail fiberworks in evening blue—and topped off with a set of custom designed glass buttons by moving mud, the set was a showstopper and one of the most coveted club packages we’ve created.

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extras of the exclusive club colorway were sold within hours of the release and kiltie projects began popping up in the FO threads within days. even now, i see members searching in our trading/gifting thread for spare skeins of this yarn and sets of the buttons.

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which got me thinking when the time came to release the pattern on its one-year anniversary—how cool would it be to offer this pattern as one of our special kit opportunities? we contacted jen to see if she was willing to dye more of the holda yarn in colorway yule time and sarina to see if she’d be up for making more buttons and they both said yes!

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together again, swoon . . .

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(i promise, i will not make a bad reference to creating beautiful music together)

and while we were at it, we decided to try an experiment . . . we sent sarina some swatches knit from various colors of our bare naked wools yarns and asked her to design  some buttons that could be used with them.

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squeeee! how gorgeous are these??

our idea is to order them in batches of different shapes and sizes, allowing her artistic license to come up with new, collectible color combinations for each fresh batch.

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these first ones look like drops of honey swirled with cream and work terrifically well with any one of the BNWs yarns.

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this is a round style button, which allows a lot of light to pass through and reflect; we will also be stocking some of sarina’s flat buttons in the near future.

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shown above, the set in size medium, knit in bare naked wools breakfast blend DK, a 3-ply merino/alpaca blend, in color cream n sugar.

shown below, the set also in size medium, knit in spirit trail holda, a 12-ply lambswool/cashmere/angora blend, in exclusive colorway, yule time.

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while supplies last—i think we have about 100 skeins on hand—this combination may be purchased in our online shop in two kit sizes (one skein or two). don’t forget, mother’s day is just around the corner and whether she knits or not, this might be just the thing for your mom.
click here to view more information or to purchase a kit.

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to purchase patterns or view complete pattern information, please click here to visit the kiltie page in the knitspot pattern shop or visit the kiltie page in our ravelry pattern shop. please click here to purchase the kiltie kit.

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kiltie is also included in the FIFC 2012 eBook collection—14 terrific accessory patterns, each one multi-sized and suitable for gifting or keeping; many will have universal appeal for women, men, and children alike. purchase the eBook collection from the knitspot club website or in our ravelry pattern shop

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another fun thing to do—click here to view the project page for the kiltie set. see more examples knit by club members and photographed on a variety of people and in alternate yarns. or better yet, join us in our swinging’ knitspot mothership for a KAL!

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this club installment and project were so much fun for all of us to put together; erica and i were squirming in our seats to hear and see those first squeals of delight as the packages landed. jen and sarina really outdid themselves in creating special materials for us to work with.

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nothing gives me greater pleasure than to relive the whole experience again with this special kit release. thank you everyone who participated in making it such a success!