steamy

anne wrote this at around evening time:

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spotted while running: a carpet of brilliant yellow aconite against dead leaves, dead sticks, dead grass, and bare shrubbery. they look like they’re dancing!

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and i finally saw a crocus in our own yard. yesterday the temps climbed all the way into the 60s in fact, though we’re paying for it today with very dreary weather—cold rain and plummeting temps.

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it’s good in a way; i needed to stay in and get some work done. for one thing, i got the neck finish done on my better breakfast pullover last night just before bed, what do you think? (those buttons are just pinned on because it wasn’t blocked yet; more on that later.)

i’m calling this one “the mister’s” because it looks like something you’d grab from your honey’s closet to throw on and run around the house in (the better to keep it later on, my dear).

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so first thing this morning, before i even put the coffee on, i got on the computer to get some pickup numbers over to one of the tech editors.

i blocked my body pieces yesterday—first the back; i parked my schematic close by to remind me what i was aiming for as i pinned out the pieces.

then the front right on top of that. isn’t it amazing how much better the fabric looks when it’s blocked? you might guess that the textured motif would be flattened if steamed or wet, but actually it really pops when the background is super smooth, even in a fuzzy yarn like better breakfast DK.

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once i had the blocking finished and the pieces dried, i picked up all around the neck for the finishing band. this one is knit in the same pattern as the hems but back and forth in rows. my plan was to have a button detail similar to that at the sides of the hem, with an overlap at the crux of the v-neck.

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this also requires some shaping to make the band lay correctly against the breastbone, which has to be smack in the middle of the button tab to be right. i had to make up as i went along, hoping it’d turned out right. fortunately it did, because i wasn’t really in the mood to fiddle after investing so much extra time on my triticum  sweater this week. i was a little worried that the shaping would look weird, but once you get the buttons on, it’s not distracting at all or even that noticeable, for that matter (see top photo).

of course i couldn’t just walk away from it at this point—i fired up the iron and got down to the work of steaming that neckline into fine shape.

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first i just laid it flat on my pressing surface to go all around, steaming that ditch where the pickup row makes a bump. from here, i like to work on a surface that allows me to shape some curves into the neck and yoke area.

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for this i like to use my tailor’s ham, which is a curvy, ham-shaped piece of equipment that is endlessly useful for steaming and shaping sweater seams, necklines, darts, and armscyes. i did a whole post a while back about using a tailor’s ham for blocking hand knits—click here to check it out. i laid the back neck (which doesn’t lie flat) across the curve that fit best and steam-blocked that area.

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then i lay the whole neck across the top so the ham can act as the “chest” to fill the  space; it has the same, very slightly bowed shape as the human chest. i can lay the neck out to work on it with the iron and team cloth with no fear of pressing in creases that won’t come out.

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a few well-placed pins help the job along.

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next i need to sew in my sleeves, add some buttons, and i’m done. at our company meeting today, we were saying how this would make a nice vest, too—something else to add to the pattern . . .

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i loved how these persian green bone buttons looked on the natty cap that i knit in january from kent DK and which inspired me to start this sweater,

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so i am sticking with them to the finish. i just wish i had it to wear today—it’s going to go back down below freezing tonight and tomorrow morning and that better breakfast DK would feel awfully, awfully lovely on my body instead of in my lap.

in between everything else, i have actually been motoring through the second front for my orange cardigan too, knit in briar rose joyful. this is the matching companion to the the pullover.

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it’s going to look quite different in tone—where the pullover has more of a “boyfriend” fit, looser and slouchier, for the cardigan i added some shaping and made the body a bit shorter (these are all options within the pattern). this fabric is a bit stiffer too, so the look will be more tailored and dressy. i’m on the lookout now for ten or twelve leather buttons in just the right shade of brown with a red or gold highlight. i actually feel like i have those somewhere but i need to track them down.

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i’ve been making headway on my tritium cardigan too, and i think you’ll like today’s progress shot

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right?? i love it too and it will look even better once it’s blocked and its silky sexiness can really shine.

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here’s a shot of that collar extension wrapping around to the back of the neck, where it will eventually meet the one from the other side to get grafted and stitched to the back neck edge.

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once i did get to put some coffee on this morning, i sat down and cast right on for the back piece while the pot perked on the stove. as i knit this piece, i can’t help thinking about the gorgeous lace yarns we’ll be rolling out in a few weeks and how beautiful a couple of them will be for this sweater. one of the nice things about our heavier lace weights is that their loft allows them to be knit at a gauge similar to this fingering yarn.

how wonderful does a laceweight sweater sound to you for summer?

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speaking of summer, if it feels all too far away from us now and you’re itching for some green, signups for our ENVY club open in just a few days on wednesday, april 1 (no foolin’)—mark the date!

if you are a current member of our blanket club on any level—you are eligible for early signups AND a discount—but only through march 31.

kind of obsessed

anne wrote this mid-afternoon:

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i’ve been watching every day and finally, i saw my first robin on saturday morning. just one. but then i saw one or two more yesterday, too. though  it’s back to being very cold at night again (like in the teens), they seem to be staying around . . . now that the snow has melted off the garden mounds and the top layer has thawed a bit, i bet they smell worms coming to life out there. mmm.

for the first time in many weeks, i had kind of a normal weekend—longer stretches of quiet working time (harder to come by during the week), saturday yoga class, some cooking, and some running. i’m always grateful for the small stuff—like having time to chop loads of veggies and not having to avoid snowy or otherwise suspicious patches on the pavement.

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several times recently, people have commented that i didn’t seem to be designing anything new lately. then my mom said something to that effect when i spoke with her yesterday (i didn’t know she read my blog, haha). even david keeps asking when i’m going to publish something new.

oh man—i didn’t at all meant to give that impression! i think my current work is all just either tied up in the clubs or projects that take a lot longer to incubate and hatch (to make use of a seasonal metaphor, haha).

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i’ve been knitting up and working out patterns for a whole series of sweater projects—i’ve got six in the works at the moment actually, and probably a seventh to start very soon. it’s actually been kind of a grand central station of sweater projects around here, haha, with patterns revolving constantly between me, tana, renee, and anne marie. which is why it strikes me as hilarious that it appears i’m not working—although now i see that from a different perspective, it makes sense.

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i guess i just though that my sweater progress must be kind of repetitive or boring—oh look, three more inches of sweater back—yay. and here, look how much pattern writing i’ve got done—whoopee! and oooohhhh—blocking—again.

not to mention all the ripping and restarting that a prototype can entail. sigh.

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which is what i have done a few times with this current sweater project. it’s all good now and i can finally talk about it without causing panic, but with some projects, i just goof up over and over.

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it started off well enough last thursday when i blocked my sleeve and had a good portion of the first front piece done. this is one piece that i did not prepare all that well before getting it on the needles—i was too excited to start working with the yarn, so i gave myself a bare skeleton of a pattern. the sleeve went fine, but once i got into the work of knitting the front, i began to think in more detail about the pattern and i realized that i may have goofed something up. but instead of fixing it right then, i stupidly decided to keep going for a little while more (i know; we ALL do that, don’t we?).

so i went back to the computer and my calculations and once i had it laid out in numbers, i could see where some adjustments would need to be made—including that it could be considerable narrowed in the body portion.

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ok, i was actually this far into the armhole shaping by that time, but i definitely wanted it to be right. well, i thought, why don’t i just set this piece aside and start the second front to be sure i won’t want to go back to this one. there were actually several other things i wanted to change by this time so the decision wasn’t hard, but i wasn’t ready to rip out that much work just yet.

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i started the second front and i could see right form the start that now i was on the right track. it would still need some minor adjustments but this was at least 100 percent better.

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all went very well in fact—these lightweight sweaters seem at first to go slowly but surmise—when you sit and knit on them for a decent amount of time, they actually zip along at a pretty good clip. by yesterday at noon i had most of that new front done and was well on my way to the shoulder shaping.

i started my draft pattern and emailed the instructions for the back piece to the test knitter, karolyn, so she could  get started on a second prototype.

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at that point, i went ahead and ripped back the first front—nothing makes me quite as grumpy as noncompliant sweater pieces, sitting around looking ashamed of themselves and pouting over their stupidity. off they go!

by this time i was very confident that i could finish up the draft pattern, so i spent most of saturday night and sunday doing that (i cooked and ran in between because after all, it was the weekend).

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last night in front of the TV i got this piece all the way through the shoulder bind off and started the collar extension, but i had been one stitch off on the shoulder and that was bugging me. i put it down and went to bed and while trying to get to sleep, i thought it out.

i saw right away what the problem was and i wanted to jump up RIGHT then to fix it and email the tech editor. but i didn’t want anyone to think i was crazy . . . oh no—not that! hehe.

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so even though i now couldn’t sleep, i just made myself stay in that bed and then first thing this morning, i fixed it.

and that’s when i did my next stupid thing. by the numbers front shoulder area was now off by three sts, which is a lot. in fact it is an amount for which i would totally rip back many inches to fix, because i am a stickler for a perfectly fitted shoulder and these will be too big if i let that go. however, i failed to remember that my stitch actual count was also smaller due to another adjustment i’d made earlier and was really only one stitch off.

for which i would totally just fudge it.

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but i didn’t realize my confusion until AFTER i’d ripped back eight inches.

well, that’s my punishment for thinking about numbers before i’ve had my coffee; i know better . . .

good thing this beautiful spirit trail tayet is such a pleasure to knit with; i am enjoying every minute of work and rework on this sweater and i truly think that is one of the reasons i’m so willing to do it. wonderful yarn deserves to be the best thing it can become.

anne marie helped me find a name for this cardigan the other day too—we decided it should be called triticum

ok, i’ll be back with more in the next day or two and hopefully, something spicier.

it’s time . . .

anne wrote this around lunchtime:

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old man winter is a sassy thing isn’t he? thinks he can get us down by thumbing his nose at us one last time as we show him out the door—HA.

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yes, we woke to quite a little scene this morning, after half a week of sunny, lovely weather.

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still, i can’t complain—spring is coming at me like a freight train all of a sudden. when we left town last thursday the yard was still covered in a deep layer of snow, but by the time we returned on sunday, it has disappeared. i noticed on my way into the house that garlic was sprouting in all directions from it’s hump in the garden.

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the weather has definitely broken for good—though we are still having nights in the 20s, i don’t think we’ll be seeing any more of those single digit temperatures, thank goodness. and though these photos look quite gray, we actually had some brilliant days this week.

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and even from the gray we get hints of something bright and cheerful; solomon’s seal is up. in fact, springy growth is pushing up out of the soil at an eager rate in every corner of the garden. i don’t know if we are quite ready to think about all that yet, but the warning has been issued—time to get things in order.

tulips, hosta tips, daffodils, and hyacinth are all making an appearance. did not see crocuses though; i wonder where they’ve gotten to?

and of course, training must pick up for spring races; i have been sluggish on getting back to my usual spring running routine. february really did a number on my schedule and i need to get back into my happy place with it.

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speaking of happy places and nice weather, we have organized a summer retreat for wooster weekend (memorial day weekend). classes and activities will take place here in canton (about a half hour from the show grounds) at the lovely mcKinley grand hotel—which has tons of space for a gigantic knitters gathering.

we have been having trouble with the signups page for a few days and we are working on it—thank you for your patience!! 

in the meantime, please don’t worry that you have missed out on getting a seat. if you are making plans and want to be sure, we will be happy to take your reservation and invoice you by email (davidATknitspotDOTcom or servicesATknitspotDOTcom). you may click here to read all the details; online signups will be available as soon as we can fix it!

east meets (mid)west

anne wrote this in the wee hours:

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awww, i just came across this picture when i was downloading blog photos from my camera; don’t you just love baby clothes? they are so cleverly cute, they cannot be resisted. of course, only a baby could wear them and only for a few months—which is just the point, haha.

while we were visiting, james and diana said they wanted to shop for the baby’s hanbok (traditional korean dress, usually worn for special occasions).

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my sister in law, mun, worn this beautiful hanbok at their wedding as did her best friend.

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on saturday afternoon we headed out, stopping first at honey pig to indulge in a full-on korean meal. it was excellent and we all happily ate too much while the baby snoozed.

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well, he didn’t sleep the whole time—there were plenty of photo ops.

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three generations of men fighting the forces of evil, haha.

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afterward we moved on to lótte, the large asian shopping center in their area, to stock up on some korean foods. we have nothing like it where we live (we WISH) and we strolled the aisles appreciatively. diana and i immediately got into trouble for taking photos inside the store, when we should have noticed the sign outside prohibiting it.

oops—on to asking about the hanbok. james and diana were under the impression he would need it for his one hundred day birthday (baek-il), but the sales person who helped us out said it was worn for the first birthday (doljanchi). baek-il is celebrated only with food.

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we flipped through a stack of dol hanbok and when we landed on this one, james and i both said at once, “that’s the one!” it was clear that this handsome ensemble was going home with us, haha. click here to see all manner of adorable doljanchi photos of babies in hanbok—you won’t be disappointed.

by this time, the rain and the crowds had gotten the best of us and since we had procured everything we’d been looking for (i found my favorite black pepper sauce and bought a BIG jar), we headed home to settle in with some movies and knitting.

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i rotated projects all weekend long, depending on the lighting and how much attention they required. can i just say that i adore this orange color?? chris dyed it just the exact perfect orange that i wanted (how does she do that?). it’s going to look so good with my hair; i can’t wait to wear it. and with any luck i should be doing that soon.

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it’s briar rose joyful, a new polwarth sport yarn offered by briar rose fibers. the yarn is deliciously spongey and produces a velvety-soft fabric surface and terrific stitch definition.

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it’s different than the better breakfast fabric i knit for the pullover version, which has a luxuriously slouchy softness. i finished this pullover front up on friday night and moved right on to finishing up the first front for the orange cardigan and starting the second. in no time i had the ribbing completed and was into the body pattern.

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the orange fabric is a bit stiffer and has more body—it feels a little more dressy and snappy. since i’ll end up with two sweaters that’ll be very alike, i’m glad they will feel so different from each other.  this joyful yarn knits up so quick, too—i managed to get one front completed and the second one is pretty close. which made ME pretty joyful . . .

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i alternated that project with working on my wheaten cardigan—i was just about at the point to begin the body shaping when we left home. this is another completely enjoyable knit, in spirit trail tayet, a 100% BFL fingering yarn which jen will be rolling out at maryland sheep and wool in may.

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in other words, i’m on a deadline and it’s fingering weight AND we have these extra-wide fronts; i’m not letting myself get behind on it. besides, karolyn is waiting on a draft pattern so she can get started on jen’s booth sample; we have to stay focused. after i finish writing this post i plan to go on a pattern writing binge to get a draft into karolyn’s hands by friday as well as to tana, the tech editor. same goes for the natty pullover/cardigan—that pattern has to go into production ASAP as well. then i can get back to putting the final polish on the other three sweater patterns i have in various stages of near-completion (they are being test knit and finalized, yay).

confused yet?

so i was tooling right along on that front and by this afternoon i had it knit to the underarm when i realized i had made a mistake and forgotten to start the neck decreases, which for this garment begin at the waist (so it was understandable, bit still . . . grrr).  don’t you just hate when that happens?

so out came the last four inches of knitting. honestly SOMEone has got to invent that alarm which goes off when you get to these pattern landmarks. honestly, why can’t my iPhone do that??

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anyway . . . i’ve got a sleeve and half a front knit. sweaters in lightweight yarns take a lot more time to knit but they are so worth the trouble; these are sweaters i wear a LOT and i should have more in this weight, considering that. besides, even though at the start they seem like a never-ending project, i eventually get into a rhythm and gain momentum. even this one will be done before we know it.

the pattern will have an option for a three-quarter sleeve and i considered ripping back to knit it that way, but instead, i think i’ll ask karolyn to do that version (i’m sure she won’t mind a little less knitting, haha).

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so i came home with a pile of things to take care of—block my pullover pieces, sew up the seams, and add the neckband. finish knitting two more sweaters, and write up two patterns to go with them. finalize two other sweater patterns and get a third set of two patterns to the next stage of editing (six unique new sweaters altogether, two of them with options).

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i also worked on the march blanket statement club chapter, which was released on tuesday. everyone seems to be having a lot of fun with this club and it’s growing in polarity as we proceed, which is interesting. we have new signups every day, both for yarn memberships and eBook ones. so cool! i think we’ll just keep this one going until i can gather my wits to create another one (maybe cable focused? maybe lace? who knows?).

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i just love going over to the projects board for this club—it is really inspiring to see how many of the posted projects are knit in our bare naked wools. and we are doing some really fun extensions on the patterns too, like this awesome piece we call Wrapping Up Winter.

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using a blanket club kit in size small or the instructions in the eBook, knit four strips in any combination of shades and patterns; ours are knit in kent DK yarn (anne marie used one skein for each strip), but you could use stone soup DK or better breakfast DK (the most popular choice this week). and you can make them whatever length works best for you—they dont have to be even; jon super long side and one short would be fun, too.

you make one simple change—at the end of each strip, add two buttonholes evenly spaced (you can use these or not, but if you don’t have them, you can’t use them). laura and david made a video to show you how to put it all together. add some buttons, hardware, or shawl pin and voilá!

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another  terrific video was inspired to give you ideas for styling your ponchoWrapThing six different ways. of course there are many more you can try once you get started. how fun is that?

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and how perfect for the season? now is just the time that we need a totally adjustable garment. i know we’ve been marveling all week at how sunny it is and at the same time, when we step out the door how chilly and windy it is. we love this garment for right now!

we just received the march shipment of better breakfast yarns—milk and honey, americano, mocha, and sugarfrost are all in stock in both DK and fingering weights. at least at this writing; anastasia tells me they are going fast. the americano is especially delicious this time—it has wonderful flecks of coppery brown mixed with the espresso brown so that it truly looks like fresh-ground dark roast beans. amazing.

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just after the styling video went live on youTube, i got an email from someone who saw it and loved the garment—she wanted to make one and asked if could pick out the softest range of shades in better breakfast DK for her kit. i pulled milk and honey, sugar frost, porridge, and daybreak—so beachy and pretty we had to take them outside for a photo! hehe, some of her skeins didn’t even have labels yet.

if you’d like a blanket or poncho kit in better breakfast yarns, please email us and erica or david will put that together for you.

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david is the unlikely inspiration for another avenue of clubhouse fun in the thread that is dedicated solely to his blanket knitting progress (well, as much as any of our threads can focus on just one thing, haha). being a truly nocturnal being, it’s hard to catch him at work; he does most off his knitting after i go to sleep.

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all the cheerleading must be having a good effect however, as his pile of finished blocks is growing (he’s a square, not a stripper). if you want to know more about squares and strippers, you’re going to have to visit the clubhouse, that’s all there is to it. and if you go there, you may as well join the group; it costs nothing to be a rubbernecker and is infinitely entertaining in there . . .

coming up soon, we’ve got signups for our ENVY club opening on april 1st—a luscious selection of green yarns in luxury blends to keep you coolin’ through summer. if you are participating in the current blanket statement club on any level, you may sign up for the green club early and receive a discount.

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and very VERY soon, we will be opening now we have opened signups for our WOO!ster summer retreat, planned for wooster weekend (memorial day). we are excited to have lots of advance interest in that event and are making plans to show everyone attending a good time; we are proud of our regional show and we think you’ll enjoy it too, along with classes and knitterly relaxation.

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whew, such a whirlwind week already and it’s just wednesday night (it’ll probably be thursday by the time you read this tho . . .). i am ready for some knitting right now. see you next time!