Ever have one of those spots of time where it just seems to jump forward?  I have no idea what happened to the last several weeks.  I was there, I did work, I did the normal non-work things, I slept (sometimes), I repeated.  But could I tell you all of the details?  Not so much.  I’m blaming it on the transition into summer – our weather is waffling back and forth between spring-like and summer-like, and it’s taking our psyches along for the ride.  Or mine anyway.

As per usual, I’ve been project hopping to keep up with the hot/cold nature of these swings.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Like I wouldn’t be project hopping anyway.  I wake up one day and feel like knitting lace for miles, another day I feel like sewing fabric, and another day I feel like spinning yarn.  The only thing that stays the same is the making.

So, the Gradient Top that I ripped out and restarted is well on the way to being completed.  I’ve knit the body up to the underarms.


It is currently languishing in the WIP (work in progress) pile because I need to pause to try it on before splitting the work to complete the fronts and back separately.  No, that’s not a difficult thing.  It will take just a half hour to do the fitting, then set up the work to continue.  At which point this project will resume status as a moderately easy knit.  (The fronts are worked in short rows, which require just a tad more brain power than simply knitting round and round and round without paying attention to anything.)

Meanwhile, I added a deadline project to the WIP pile.  Of course I did!  What’s life without a few deadlines?  This is my heavy-attention project for the moment.  Because I apparently needed to kick my lace knitting skills into the next level.  This one has lots of complex stitches requiring so many needle gymnastics that my head swam just reading the pattern through the first time.  But I am a fiber adventurer, and nothing can scare me now.  So I boldly cast on.

IMG_20160525_124732_smFriends, here’s where my multi-craftual skills really paid off.  I was struggling with the nupp stitches in this pattern, like so many have before me.  (A Google search yielded no end to the helpful line of knitters sharing how they too tackled just this issue.)  Basically, it’s a ton of loops (quantity varies by pattern depending on the size nupp you’d like to end up with) created in a single stitch on the right side, then purled together as one stitch on the wrong side, that makes a bubble of stitches in the work.  In crochet, this is similar to making a bobble or popcorn stitch.  It’s this purling together that frustrates so many of us.  The loops either slide off the needle tip before you can get the purl completed, or you can’t get your needle tip into all of the loops to begin with.  So I pulled out a handy dandy metal crochet hook a couple of sizes smaller than my needles and I used that to make the purl through all of those infernal loops.  Take that, you pesky nupp!


Once I tackled the nupp problem, I was able to cruise along on the project.  Cruising is relative here – I spent many hours at Knit Night with my head down and not talking very much, and this is definitely not TV knitting.  I can now see the end less than a dozen rows ahead, and well within the deadline.  Cruising.

To help balance the complexity scales, I’ve been spinning a lot as well.  The alpaca spinning project quickly filled up two and a half bobbins.  That’s more yardage than expected, but not unwelcome.


I plied the two bobbins together, mixing in the singles from the third bobbin when each of the two main ones ran out.  The yarn washed up beautifully.  I’m very happy to see that the plying preserved the mixture of colors too.


So now I have a little over 1000 yards of a rustic light fingering weight yarn that needs a knitting project to pair it with.  Maybe a lightweight cardigan?  Or a large textured shawl?  Hmmm…

I’ll leave you with a little evidence that spring has gone and summer has come, despite the 55F day we had yesterday.  The peonies have bloomed and wilted.


And the hydrangea blooms have opened and their color has matured.


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Last week I hinted that I was ripping out and restarting a project.  No, it’s not the skirt project.  That one went into the frog pond so I could ponder how best to proceed.  Instead, I resurrected a different project from the frog pond so that I could rip and restart.

Remember this purple sleeveless top from last summer?

IMG_20150820_173446_clr_smWell, it went into the frog pond because it was too short when I tried it on – despite having lengthened it at every available opportunity given in the pattern.  I need my tops to extend at least a few inches past my waistband.  It keeps the belly flashing to a minimum, you know.

As I was soaking up the warm sun last week, I decided this project needed to hurry up and get completed.  Right now.  I would like to wear it this summer.

So I dug it out and assessed the situation.  Yes, it is too small.  But in what way(s)?  Is it a gauge issue?  Is it a size issue?  Was I just not paying attention to the pattern?  Answers to these will help fix the problem and avoid further unhappiness.  A few measurements of the existing work, a few measurements of myself using the centimeter side of my measuring tape (instead of trying to convert from inches to read the metric sizing in the pattern), and I had my answers.

  • Issue #1: I had picked the wrong size.  My earlier inches to centimeters conversions had confused things and I had picked a size that would give me negative ease (read: hugs the curves), rather than the suggested positive ease (read: flows along the curves).  Solution: Knit the right size, dummy!
  • Issue #2: My gauge was off.  Using the suggested needle size, I was getting the correct stitch gauge but not the correct row gauge.  This meant that it was taking me one more row than the pattern designer to get 1″ of vertical work.  Which is exactly why my work was so much shorter than hers over the 15″ from the hem to underarm.  Add in the issue created by the negative ease, and the work shrunk vertically even more (stretch a piece of knit fabric horizontally, and it gets shorter vertically).  Solution: Go up a needle size.  Yes, I swatched to make sure.

Okay, then.  Ready to rip?  Here we go!

Ripit_CollageI know, you’re inwardly cringing.  But I’ll admit, I kind of enjoyed that.

With a (somewhat) fresh ball of yarn, newly wound and ready to go, and the correctly sized needles, I cast on again.  Purists will tell you to wash or steam the yarn to release the kinks created by the previous knitting.  If I were making something completely different, at a wildly different gauge, I would absolutely do that.  However, I’m not changing my gauge that much here, so I’m skipping right to the knitting.  Kinks and all.

After a few evenings of work, here’s my progress so far.

IMG_20160518_113134_clr_smI’ve reached the bottom of the waist shaping, so I decided to pause for a measurement triple-check before proceeding.  It takes just a minute.  And now I discover that I’m spot on for stitch and row gauge.  Success!  I can follow the pattern with abandon.

Now to zoom!  The weather keeps reminding me that I’d like to wear this top soon.


*Wow, the light really plays tricks with this color for my camera.  The true color is more accurately represented in the ripping photos.

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No Time To Talk

Have you ever encountered one of those weeks, where everything sort of piles on itself and there is no time to catch a breath?  I know you have.  Everybody has.  Well, that’s what happened to the last several weeks.  Mom came into town for a visit over Mother’s Day.  It was fabulous and we had a wonderful time.  But that meant I was prepping the house, prepping to be off work for a week, then all of the glorious visiting, then recharging.  (As an introvert, I know the recharging bit is necessary.  I just didn’t know I’d need multiple days of it.)  I think I’m out the other side now.  Which also means there’s lots of stuff to show you.  Because while my social side has been quiet, my hands have been very busy.

I finished the miles of stockinette body on my experimental skirt, then started the easily memorized lacy texture pattern around the bottom.  Can I tell you how much I love this lace pattern?  It’s a perfect match for the image in my head of the finished skirt.  Knit flat, it is prone to biasing.  Knit in the round, it hangs perfectly straight.

IMG_20160429_142457_smOnce the lace band was finished, I had a decision to make.  I could work a few rounds of garter stitch at the hem and bind off.  Or I could work a picot bind off at the hem, similar to the edging on my Lily shawl.  I decided to work the picot bind off.  I’m glad I did, even though that meant a seemingly endless amount of additional knitting.  Here it is in an unblocked state.

IMG_20160511_134957_clr_smYou know the first thing I did once the skirt was off the needles?  Yep.  I tried it on.  It fits!  The waistband is perfect, even without the elastic (though it will fit even better with this addition).  The length and weight of the fabric are perfect too.  And that lace band at the hem – including all those maddening picots! – is exactly as envisioned.  The only thing I’m not happy with is the rate of increase to get the shape.  It has turned out to be too sharp, and the hemline is wider than it needs to be.  Here’s the final skirt, laid out so you can see the full outline (again, it’s in an unblocked state so the hem is more ruffled than it will be once blocked).

IMG_20160511_134926_clr_smIt’s not bad.  It’s just not what I’d envisioned.  Here’s what I really had in mind.  (No, I didn’t cut my knitting.  I folded in the sides a bit to get this photo.)

IMG_20160511_135037_clr_smSee how it’s still an A-line shape, but less dramatic?  That’s what the image in my head looks like.

So back to square one on that project.  I’ve made adjustments to my notes for the next time I knit it.  My options are to rip this one and reknit it, or to just start from scratch with new yarn.  It’s going on the back burner until I decide.  There are other projects screaming for my attention at the moment.

For the Knitters:

  • Pattern: I made it up
  • Yarn: Lion Brand Sock-Ease Solids, colorway #178 Snow Cone
  • Ravelry project page: here

The most pressing new project was a pair of socks for Niece’s birthday.  As she too is growing at an alarming rate, I decided that they needed to be somewhat adjustable.  Tube socks fit that requirement, as there is no pesky heel to slip into the wrong position when the foot grows a little.  Since I procrastinated a bit and was uncomfortably close to the shipping deadline, I got out the circular sock machine (aka “Persnickety”) to help with the knitting.

Now, Persnickety is rather fiddly when faced with knitting toes and heels – which is how she earned her name.  She drops stitches all over the place.  She also doesn’t do ribbing.  But she is a pro at knitting plain stockinette tubes.  Go with your strengths, right?  So, she knit the body of the socks and I knit the toes and cuffs.  She knit two perfect, 15″ long tubes in about 10 minutes.


I then picked out the shocking pink waste yarn at the top and bottom of each purple sock tube, put the stitches on two circular needles, and worked the toes and cuffs.  Voila!  A finished pair of socks, right on time for the birthday celebrations.


I think I’ll be repeating that trick to fill up our sock drawers with plain, functional socks in future.  Though the adult versions will get heels inserted into the knitting too.

For the Knitters:

  • Pattern: there isn’t one, use your favorite plain vanilla sock toe and 1×1 ribbing for the cuffs
  • Yarn: Premier Yarns Serenity Sock, colorway #DN108-01 Lavender Topaz
  • Ravelry project page: here

For my spinning project, I decided to finally take the plunge and try out the big roll of 100% alpaca fiber that I picked up at the Black Sheep Gathering last summer.  This is a mash-up of all the little leftover bits from several of the alpaca fleeces the shop owner had spun up for her regular spinning fiber line.  It’s just the thing for testing out the fiber type before committing to the more expensive stuff.

IMG_20160423_105856_clr_smThe fiber is already attenuated into a smaller sliver, so it is ready to go.  I love the mix of colors; everything from the palest grey/white, through the range of browns, to deep grey/brown and almost-black.  Alpacas come in 20+ natural colors, and a good quantity of them are represented in this roll.  Here is how it is spinning up into the singles.

IMG_20160424_132127_smThe spinning is fast and easy, and the mix of colors is still there in the singles.  I’ve got 8 oz of fiber, so I’m planning to spin two bobbins and ply them together.  The finished 2-ply yarn should be lace weight or light fingering weight, depending on how much it blooms in the wash.  I’m a little low on knitting projects at the moment, with the skirt and socks finished, so this spinning project is getting a lot more attention.

There’s lots more to talk about, but I think that’s enough for one day.  There’s a project to rip out – but not the one you think – and cast on again.  I might need to cast on for two projects.  There needs to be a mix, after all.  And there’s more spinning to do.  It’s a gorgeous day; I might take the wheel outside for a bit.  My options are wide open.  Happy Friday!

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A Study In Blues

It seems that I’m in a mood to work with the color blue lately.  There was the cabled pools shawl that I showed you a few weeks ago.  And the experimental spinning project – though I really expected that to turn out more purplish.  Apparently I’m not done with blue yet – it is my favorite color – because after I finished the shawl I cast on another project in the exact same shade.

IMG_20160411_162819_clr_smI will admit that this project represents a bit of a wild hair.  No, it’s not a sweater.  It’s not a shawl.  It’s very definitely not a pair of socks.  What is it, you ask?  A skirt.  Specifically, a summer skirt knit in fingering weight yarn (the same weight used for socks).  Because I wear skirts all the time in the summer.  Not really.

Like I said – wild hair.

I’ve been wanting to knit a skirt for a long time.  My Ravelry favorites is full of them, mostly in heavier weights for the winter.  And winter is definitely when I do not wear skirts.  I have yet to learn the northwesty habit of layering a heavy skirt over thick leggings and knee high boots when it’s cold and wet outside.  I wish I could figure it out, because it’s a very good look!  I grew up in the south, where we use light, airy skirts as air conditioning when it’s hot and muggy outside.  So I went on a Ravelry search for the middle ground – a mid-weight skirt I could wear without leggings in the not-quite-as-hot-and-oppressive summers here.  Friends, I came up with nothing.  Everything I like has been written for heavier weight yarns.  And if I’m going to have to do math to accommodate the change in gauge, I might as well start from scratch and get the skirt I want.  This is why I started designing my own knit and crochet patterns in the first place; to fill what I saw as a gap.

So…a few measurements here and there, a few calculations here and there, a few jotted down notes, and I was off to cast on.  (I’m so glad I started keeping a knitting notebook a few years ago as a place for all of my experiments.  Super handy things, notebooks.)  The skirt starts at the top with a fold-over waistband, and ends with a lace border at the bottom.   I’ll insert a wide elastic band during the finishing.  So far, it’s just miles of stockinette with regular increases at the side ‘seams’ to give it an A-line shape.

IMG_20160417_123708_clr_sm(Well, what do you know.  My knitting matches my favorite drawstring project bag!)

Now that the skirt was well underway, I needed another project or two to throw into the mix.  So I went back to the spinning project and picked that up for a few minutes each day.  This weekend I started the third and final bobbin, and saw that finish line coming up fast.  I put on the speed.  Husband assisted by putting a few baseball games on the TV.  In no time I was plying the three bobbins together and winding off the finished yarn into a skein for washing.

IMG_20160417_102458_smThe abnormally warm weather over the past few days assisted in speed drying the washed yarn.  I love it when I don’t have to wait forever for my yarny things to dry.


This polwarth fiber went on and on for miles and bloomed into a lovely soft and squishy yarn.  I ended up with over 400 yards of a 3-ply sport weight yarn.  That’s a lot for a 4 oz skein.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a knitting project in mind for it.  (My spinning habit seems to be enhancing the yarn stash at a growing rate.  Maybe I should think about adding some of these to the shop or visiting the buy/sell/trade forums on Ravelry?)

My other knitting project is a pair of vanilla socks for Husband.  I’m reserving those for purse knitting, to be pulled out and worked on when stuck waiting somewhere.  Waiting on an appointment, waiting for dinner at a restaurant, slow times at work…etc.  But they’re not blue.

IMG_20160412_124822_clr_smAh well, I can’t work in blue all of the time!  I’m thinking I need a new spinning project now.  Maybe the new one won’t be in blue.


For the spinners:


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Goating Around

It’s spring shearing season again, my friends.  And that means a trip out to visit the goats, alpacas, and other critters at our friends’ fiber farm.  I don’t have any shearing photos to share with you this time.  (You can see pics from my last shearing adventure here and here.)  We were all business, with a good dose of giggles thrown in for good measure.  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t get any photos while I was there.  Enjoy!

Here is Tom Turkey, getting his flirt on.


The alpaca welcoming committee was lined up for introductions.  These guys are super curious and friendly.


“Can I get a smooch?”  All about the kisses, this guy.


A few of our goat friends gathered around for a closer look.  They weren’t quite sure whether I was standing there to pet them or to trick one of them into getting a hair cut.  (Petting was appreciated, hair cuts were not.)  At the time, I was just there for pets.  Once they figured that out, my legs became goat scratching posts – they love to rub their foreheads on any available surface.


Back at home, the apple trees have decided it’s warm enough for blossoms.


Do you think we’re going to have a few apples this year?


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Cabled Pools Shawl

I must have brought the sun back with me from vacation.  It has been sunny and warm so many days in the last few weeks that we’re beginning to think summer has arrived early.  We know that can’t be true – summer doesn’t really start here until Independence Day, and Mother Nature can throw whole months of cloudy/cold/damp weather at us anytime she wants until then.


Which is why I’m still knitting cozy warm things.  Like this cabled shawl, using a lovely jewel-toned teal blue wool.  A color which also makes it hard to photograph, because I am most definitely not a photographer.  (Maybe I should take a class?)  At least the sunny weather cooperated for a photo shoot.

IMG_20160401_115554_clr_trm_smI like the adjusted spacing of the cabled motifs.  I am also very happy with the shaping and the curve at the neckline.  All of that ripping out was absolutely worth it.  (See?  I’m not so crazy after all.)

IMG_20160401_115913_clr_trm_smThe swatching for the transition to the deep ribbing section was also worth it.  I love how the whole thing turned out.  The shawl is a medium thickness for warmth without being heavy, and the deep ribbing gives the bottom edge just enough weight to make the shawl drape beautifully over the shoulders.

I have made copious notes so I can duplicate my work.  This shawl design is one I created for my Etsy shop, so I’ll be creating a knit-to-order listing shortly.  Maybe later I’ll cave in to my knit friends asking, “you’re going to publish that pattern, right?”

Meanwhile, this shawl needs a name.  Cabled Pools seems kind of blah.  Any ideas?

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Handspun Sweater: Finished

Remember that deadline I set myself to finish the handspun sweater before Son’s Spring Break started?  Well, I met it.  Though I will admit that the sweater was still a bit damp when I packed it into the suitcase to make the trip with me.  I will also admit that it still needs buttons – though those are optional, the sweater works just fine without them.

Backing up a bit, when I last showed you the sweater I had finished the body and the sleeves.  I just needed to pick up and work the wide collar band.  There was plenty of yarn left to accomplish this, which I was ecstatic to see.  (The main worry through this whole project was running out of my hand spun yarn.)


So I picked up around the edges of the cardigan fronts and neckline and knit (and purled) like the wind.  This pattern uses decreases to shape the collar around the neckline, to bring in that wide edge so that it snuggles against the neck.  I like a good short row collar as much as the next person, but sometimes mindless knitting is better.  Much better in this case.

The simple buttonholes are worked in the last few rows of the collar, and then you’re done!  Voila!  A finished sweater.  With plenty of yarn to spare – I still have half a skein of yarn, should I need to make repairs later or knit a matching hat.


I wore it several times on my trip, once it had finished drying.  It is generously sized and snuggly warm; I can see myself living in this sweater all through the rainy winters for years to come.  This was also such a great pattern that I can also see myself knitting several more of these so that I can have one in each of my favorite colors.

So now the question is: Now that I’ve finished my first major hand spinning/knitting project, would I do it again?

Answer:  Absolutely!  And I know just what I’m going to spin for the next handspun sweater project.  I picked up several boxes full of a gorgeous chocolate brown and black Romney/Alpaca roving from the Abundant Earth Fiber mill last fall.  I can’t wait to get my hands into it now.


As soon as I clear the current spinning project off the wheel…

For the knitters:


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A Little Pause

Hello, friends!  I just got back from taking a short break to visit with family.  I had the best of intentions to write while I was on vacation, but as you see that just didn’t happen.  Apparently, I should stop thinking that I’m going to do anything but visit and knit while I’m on vacation in future.  At any rate, here’s a snippet of what went on while things were on pause.

There were volcanoes.  Lots of them.  On the way out, the haze only allowed a view of four – Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, and Mt Hood.  But on the way back in, the weather allowed for a view of six volcanoes peeking up above the low clouds – from Mt Rainier all the way south to Three Sisters.  I only have a photo of the view on the way out to show you; I was too busy enjoying the scenery to snap a photo on the way in.  (Click the photo to embiggen.)  Let me tell you, it never gets old.


Then there were the s’mores.  The weather was perfect for building a tiny fire in the fire pit on the back deck to roast our marshmallows.  Yum!


And of course there was knitting.  I took the teal cabled shawl with me as a good item to work on while chatting.  I wasn’t liking the shape of the first version, so I ripped it back and cast on again during the flight out.  I’m sure the person in the seat next to me thought I was a bit nutty while I unraveled my work.

The next day, I was still unhappy with the shape and the spacing on the cabled puddles.  So I ripped it back out and started again for the third time.  The third time is charmed, right?


That third version was much more happy.  So I continued on, knitting on the back deck, chatting with the family, during the movies…  There was a slight pause while i worked a few swatches to figure out the transition to the deep ribbing along the bottom edge.  But by Sunday evening I had bound off the last stitch.


On Wednesday the shawl got a nice warm bath, and is laid out to dry in my studio.  (Horrible lighting for photos!)  The sun is forecast to make an appearance for the next few days, so I’m hoping to get in a photoshoot this week.  I also finished my handspun cardigan before I left for vacation, and I still need to show you how that turned out.  (Spoiler: I love it!)

I cast on for a new shawl experiment when I got home.  I’ll show you that later.  Meanwhile, I’m thinking that I really need to work on the languishing spinning project.  Oh and I have ideas for some new bags for the shop to work on.

Lots to do!  Back to work.

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Handspun Sweater: The Home Stretch

With the yoke and the sleeves finished on my handspun sweater, I continued working the body from the underarms downward to the hem.  I worked a handful of rows using the last of the ball of yarn from the yoke portion of the sweater, then I joined yarn from the biggest skein in the set of four created from my spinning adventure.  My goal was to be able to finish the rest of the sweater body using just that one skein of yarn.  I would then have one generous skein left to work the wide collar.

The biggest unknown was whether the transitions between the different skeins of yarn would be noticeable in the knitting.  With the work puddled in my lap it was hard to decide.  In this lighting I can’t really tell, in that lighting I see a bit of a difference…  You know, the right lighting can conceal or reveal issues.  I don’t mind a slight shift, in this case.

Forging ahead, I’ve worked the body of the sweater downward through the waist shaping.  While this is a slightly roomy, open front cardigan, it never hurts to pull the back in a little at the waist, and the designer has included this flattering detail.  Now all that’s left is to knit until I’m happy with the length and bind off at the hem.


How did the transitions between the skeins go?  Well, here’s the sweater modeled by my trusty assistant.  I can see the color shift at the middle back, but I don’t think anyone else would notice (especially in artificial lighting).  What is funny is that there is a very slight color shift – within the original ball of yarn – well above where the new ball of yarn was joined.  That could be a change in the singles, a change in the plying, or a change in the fiber prep.  Whatever the cause, it adds character and I love it.


The front shaping is very lovely too, worked into a modest v-neck.  Yes, it is very wide now.  However, the next step will be to pick up all around the opening and work a very wide collar.  The end result will be a snuggly close neckline and generously overlapping cardigan fronts.

Next weekend starts spring break for Son, so I’m setting that as my deadline to finish this sweater.  I’d better go knit a few more rows on the body, then get started on that collar.

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While some of you may still be laboring through winter with mounds of snow all around, Spring has definitely sprung here.  I have quite a bit of sympathy for you.  But that won’t stop me from sharing the wonderful views that nature gave us yesterday.  (Scroll to the bottom if you’d like to skip the pics of floral abundance.)  In between the rain showers, we got a fabulously sunny sky.  Which, of course, I took full advantage of and set off for a walk.  Here are some of the scenes from around the neighborhood.

IMG_20160229_093737_clr_sm IMG_20160229_103636_clr_sm IMG_20160229_103909_clr_sm IMG_20160229_104323_clr_sm IMG_20160229_105602_clr_sm

Isn’t it fabulous?  I just love the new pops of color now as I’m out and about.  Our winter is not devoid of color – rather it is the opposite – but after a while it’s nice to see a color other than green.  Green evergreens, green moss (on everything!), green lichen, green grass…

I also witnessed a large flock of ducks headed north the other day.  All of which convinces me that we’re in the clear and it’s time to plant the veggie garden.  I’ve got the first wave of onion sets in (first try at these, crossing fingers), and I’ll be working on the seeds indoors and out over the next week or so.

In knitting news, I’ve finished both sleeves on my handspun cardigan.  Next I’ll work the rest of the sweater body.  For the next little bit it will look like an uninteresting puddle of knitting on my needles.


To keep things interesting, I also cast on for a new crescent shawl I dreamed up.  This one is mid-weight, with lovely cables every so often.  The effect is of little swirls and pools.  I am really excited about how it is coming out so far.


I am also spinning a bit on the multi-color project.  If I work on it a little each day, I might finish sometime in the next century.  At this point, I have completed one bobbin.  Only two more to go, then I can ply them together.

I think I should queue up some more audiobooks.

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