WIP: more of the January sweater

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I’m feeling happier about this sweater today because once I’d done some of the yoke decreases I put all the stitches onto spare yarn and tried it on. I was originally aiming for  a 44″ circumference, which would have given me a lot of ease, but because of the tighter gauge it’s coming out at 40″. That means it will be fairly form-fitting and I was worrying about it being too snug. But no, it feels just great, so I am gaily marching on towards the neckline.

The next decision will be how wide to make the neck. I want to add a big collar, maybe not a regular polo/turtleneck, but perhaps a split turtleneck. I’d like to have the option of buttoning it up around my neck, but also to open it up if I’m getting too hot (which is quite possible considering how thick the sweater is).

I’ve added a couple of short rows in the back section tonight, with the plan to add a couple more later on. I finally learned how to work a wrap properly in the round. I can do the ones on the left end of a short row fine, but the challenge used to be that when I knitted all the way around and encountered the wrap at the right hand end of the short row I didn’t know the correct way to pick up the wrap without making a mess.

Well, I found this tutorial. In it, she shows how to work the wraps – the left hand one is done the usual way that I’m familiar with, and the right hand one is done with a yarnover. When encountering the yarnover later, you slip the stitch before it knitwise, slip the yarnover purlwise, and knit them together. Hey presto, it worked!

As this is such a bulky sweater, I also am using a slightly different technique than an ssk for my left leaning decreases. I  can’t remember where I found it now, but the theory is that an ssk is very visibly different from a K2tog. When you’re doing mirrored decreases on a raglan yoke, it’s nice to have them look similar on each side. So instead of slipping one knitwise, then slipping another knitwise, putting the needle into the front of the two slipped stitches then knitting them together, I am doing this: slip one knitwise, slip the next one purlwise through the back, then knit them together.

Sounds fiddly, but once you’ve done it a couple of times it’s just as easy and it does seem to be looking pretty good.

My knitting has been accompanied by a TV series on Netflix that a customer at the store recommended to me. Mr Selfridge. And I am enjoying it immensely, and not just because it doesn’t have subtitles!!

I have really appreciated the last two days off work. I met a friend for tea yesterday, and did the shopping (OK, grocery shopping is not very exciting but hey, it was a day off) and today I went to the gym then pootled around in the kitchen making the Burrito Breakfast Bake from my new book, The How Not to Die cookbook by Dr Greger. I’ve made a few recipes from that book now and have been pleased with them so far. The kids are not crazy on yams or cooked greens, which is a shame because they are just SO good for you! I still try and get them to eat them, though.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to work 5 – 9pm so it almost feels like another day off. Kinda sorta 🙂

 

WIP: January sweater

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I cast on this sweater on January 7th. I think I have knitted on it every day except one. Sometimes when I’ve been at work all day, I am a Netflix zombie in the evening. But most days I’ve added to it, and it has grown satisfyingly quickly.

Above is the finished torso, with stitches on waste yarn awaiting the sleeves. It only took two evenings for the first sleeve. The other one was finished tonight while I enjoyed the company of my friends at our Hygge gathering at my house. It was perfectly timed as I was on the straight stretch at the top of the sleeve while they were here and didn’t have to concentrate on any more shaping.

Once they had left, I united body and sleeves, leaving four stitches on waste yarn on each piece at the underarms, and knitted four rounds without any decreasing. And that’s where I’m stopping for the night.

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The hem of the sweater is very curly but I intend to knit hems in a different colour and weight of yarn, à la Elizabeth Zimmermann, once the rest of the sweater is done.

I have to confess that my gauge swatch was inaccurate, one reason being that I knitted it flat and now I am knitting in the round (I should have known better), and the circumference is coming out considerably smaller. However I think it will be fine. In the case of the sleeves, I was able to slip the first one on my arm to get an idea of the length and circumference I needed.

I’m really feeling the tiredness now. Just did four days of work in a row, which I was not crazy about. Thankfully I have the next couple of days off so I will be able to get to the gym and also do grocery shopping. I’ve nearly finished Book 2 in the Poldark series, “Demelza,” and need to pop over to the library website to reserve Book 3.

What are you doing to make the winter comfy and cosy?

FO: mug cosy

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This is my first FO of 2018. A very quick and easy cosy to prettify a dollar store mug, which has already been packed into a gift bag with some boxes of tea for a friend.

I used Loops & Threads Facets in Capri Blue, double stranded, with a 10mm hook.  Such a pretty yarn but barely spun at all, so it doesn’t take rough handling. The big button was in my stash. Instead of just the basic circle, which wraps around the outside of the mug, I added a base to it too.

And while looking for a mug, I happened to come across these mini skeins of cotton yarn and, well, they jumped into my hand and begged to come home with me. Each tiny skein is 10 grams. So cute! The yarn looks OK. There were acrylic minis too, but I thought I’d stick with the cotton.

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Apart from mug and yarn shopping, I had a visit with my ear doctor today. Three years ago he performed a stapedotomy on my left ear, which entails opening the ear drum, drilling out the calcification around the bones inside my ear (due to otosclerosis) and replacing the stapes with a teeny tiny titanium prosthesis. As the hearing in my right ear has got progressively worse, I’ve decided it’s time to schedule another surgery. It won’t be until the second half of the year sometime, but as the wheels of the medical system often grind slowly, it’s worth starting the ball rolling early. Hmmm, I think I’m mixing my  metaphors.

My current Netflix obsession is Rectify, which I am going to continue watching as soon as this blog post is done. Do you watch shows while knitting or crocheting? If so, what do you like to watch?

 

 

January sweater

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The January sweater is finally off the ground. Unless of course I change my mind again. 

I frogged the ribbed sleeve that was also a gauge  swatch. The four strands of yarn with the 15mm hook were loosey goosey and I envisaged a problem down the line, so I am now using a 10mm circular and getting a nice neat gauge of 2sts/3rows/1inch in stockinette. 

Complete change of plan on the sweater design. Instead of a knitted flat, ribbed, seamed turtleneck, it’s going to be knitted in the round seamlessly in stockinette. I’m using my experience of bottom up seamless sweaters from way back to work out the calculations. It’s not that hard but I tend to second guess myself a lot. So, no pattern, but as long as I get the sizing right it’ll be fine. 

We had a bit of melting this week. The temperature reached a balmy plus three. But it’s snowing again today. Stay warm, folks, and talk to you again soon. 

Flashin’ the stash

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Well, it’s that time again. The calendar is showing us a new year and a new thread has opened up on Ravelry called Flash your Stash 2018.

I’ve done this before and it’s rather fun, and interesting too, because you get to see what’s been lurking in cubbies and bags and boxes for a while and you can make sure that everything is photographed and listed on your Ravelry stash page.

I have a relatively small stash compared to many yarn collectors…erm, I mean knitters and crocheters on Ravelry. Some have entire rooms dedicated to yarn and their photos look like actual stores.

However much one has, I think it’s important to keep it organized and bug-free and current. (I find it’s also good not to have it get out of control, because then I feel pressured by it. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.) This time around I have decided to give away a couple more things that I don’t love.

Here are some photos…

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These two pictures show the entire stash. The yarn above the gap in the first photo is acrylic, mostly worsted and bulky, except for a few DK cakes. The yarn below the gap is plant fibres like hemp, cotton and linen. The second photo is all my solid DK, organised by colour, which is a mix of Stylecraft Special, Deramores Studio and Carolina. The squares were going to be an afghan, but I changed my mind on that so they are waiting for inspiration to strike.

More shots of groupings, e.g. plant fibres, Stylecraft Special Aran, Loops & Threads Impeccable, cakes, worsted and bulky. The navy blue balls in a clear plastic bag are Willow Yarns Wash Bulky from a frogged sweater. Those have probably been in the stash the longest.  Click on the thumbnails to embiggen.

 

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And my WIPs, which are possibly not going to continue to fruition. The four-strands-of-aran-weight-yarn sweater which I was so excited to start on 15mm needles is looking a little messy. The knitting is sloppy and the gauge, while close to that asked for in the pattern, is looser than I’d like. I can foresee this being a sweater that loses its shape quickly, stretches out, and ends up in the closet. So I may try a smaller needle with three or four strands instead and see if I like the fabric, then make a sweater based on my personal gauge.

I’m typing the draft of this at the gym while on a stationary bike. It’s a great way to pass the time. Better than staring at the wall anyway. Tai Chi Man and I were joking that we’d probably see an influx of people after January 1st because, you know, New Year’s Resolutions. I like the upstairs ladies-only part of the gym when I’m alone. If we both go, then we use the co-ed part downstairs.

I probably should get off here and do some weights so I’ll upload the photos to this post later.

Three hours pass...

OK, now adding photos and editing my typos. Dinner is done and it’s couch time. The yarn has been taken back to my craft room, though not put away properly yet. Now that my stash is officially flashed, both here and on Ravelry, I should spend a little time putting it all away neatly. Unlike many of the flashers, who say they have too much and want to go on a yarn diet, I am happy to look out for yarn for sweaters this year. Sweater quantities, in other words enough of one yarn or colour to make a whole sweater, are something my stash lacks. And now that I’ve made something for just about everyone I know, it’s time to be a little selfish and make some garments for myself this year.

Do you flash your stash? Do you even have a stash? Let me know in the comments 🙂

 

2017 project review

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2017 project review

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Hi all and Happy New Year. It’s getting to the end of the first day of 2018 and I’m ready for bed (and it’s only 9pm). Last night we didn’t do anything special to see in the new year (as usual). Tai Chi Man was in bed early (as usual). I stayed up and binge-watched season one of a series on Netflix called Rectify. I found it strangely compelling.

So what I’m saying is that I did stay up past midnight, but not because it was New Year’s Eve!

The trouble with watching too much TV is that your brain is hopped up on electronic vibes and when you do go to bed, overtired, you can’t get to sleep easily. Still, I just lay there knowing that I would eventually get to sleep, and I did. But of course I woke up at the usual time so didn’t get enough rest, and I’m feeling it now.

I just did a quick review of the projects I have knitted and crocheted in 2017. This is why I love Ravelry. I can quickly scroll through  my project page, noting down what I made (of course if I had remembered to tag each project with the year, I could have done it even more quickly).

My favourite projects of the year would be the Spill Shawl, Anouska’s bag (the camper van one) and the Hungry Caterpillar baby blanket and cocoon. (All links to my Ravelry notebook.) I picked the shawl because the yarn worked perfectly with the design, and it’s in my favourite colours, the bag because I designed it and my niece loved it, and the baby blanket because it was a labour of love and the new parents loved it. And they’re all cute!!!

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So, what did I make last year.

9 scarves/cowls, 2 baby blankets, 2 loveys, 1 pair of baby booties, 1 baby cocoon, 31 hats, 4 squares/coasters, 7 bags/cosies, 8 dishcloths, 3 baby sweaters, 1 poncho, 1 twiddle muff, 2 towel loops, 1 tank top, 1 baby dress, 6 rugs/cat mats, 2 shawls, 1 wreath (sunflower, pumpkins, leaves), 1 basket, 3 pairs of mittens, 1 pair of slippers

That makes a grand total of 88 items, counting the bits for the wreath as only one. Not bad at all.

However, there is an absence of larger projects. No big throws or blankets (I do already have a good pile of those so didn’t really NEED another one) and no adult sweaters or other garments, except for the linen tank top. So what I’m thinking for this year is that maybe I’d like to make a goal (NOT a resolution, of course, because I don’t make those) of knitting or crocheting a sweater a month. Doable? Maybe. FullSizeRender (1)

As for WIPs, I still have a couple of those and I’m not sure whether or not they will be finished. And I have some squares that I made for a blanket out of DK yarn (pictured above) that were joined together, but I decided I didn’t like how it was turning out so I took them apart. The ends were woven in on the squares so I didn’t frog them but will have to find a use for them later on.

I see a new thread was started on the Ravelry forums today – Flash your Stash 2018 – and I may well do that one of these days. My stash is quite manageable at the moment as I used some up or gave some away, so it wouldn’t be a huge task to pull it out and photograph it. I had culled the vintage stuff out and just kept the ‘nice’ stuff, but of course this then seemed to create a vacuum into which more yarn arrived. A co-worker gave me a bag of her unwanted acrylic. I kept it, though, as much of it is black and can be used in future scrap blankets or whatever.

So what else? I’ve already mentioned my thought of making a sweater a month. Another monthly goal that would be awesome to follow through on would be to sew myself a garment. I would add unique items to my wardrobe while getting more proficient at making things that I can wear in public. (I still want to make the sweater pictured below, it would be a quick knit, achievable in a month, but I STILL haven’t found the right yarn for the job!)

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Weekly goals are simple. Continue hosting my Hygge group on Monday nights, keep in touch with friends, and call my mum. Daily goals include doing something active (gym, walking, yoga, work) and being grateful for everything. I shall have to write these out and put them on the wall somewhere so I see them every day.

Now it’s time to love you and leave you, as they say, and I will talk to you again soon. Happy crafting.

 

Where did December go?

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Last time I blogged, it was early December and I was about to go on holiday to Maui with Tai Chi Man to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Well, it was lovely. The weather was warm and mostly sunny and we swam in the ocean every day but one. There were some showers and for a couple of days it was very windy. We were in Kihei on the west coast which is fairly well sheltered from the prevailing winds, and dryer than other areas of the island. The beaches are gorgeous, the sand is soft, and the water was warm but refreshing.

The main highlight would have to be the helicopter flight around the island, which included going over 10,000 feet up to circle the crater at the top of the extinct volcano, Haleakala, Maui’s highest point. Beats driving for hours! And we saw a lot of scenery and waterfalls that we wouldn’t have been able to see from the road to Hana.

We had a condo, so were able to make our own meals (important when you don’t eat the Standard American Diet) and a rental car (Ford Escape), and found some nice places, like the Maui Quilt Shop, Down to Earth vegetarian health food store, and the banyan tree park at Lahaina. We went underwater in a submarine to see fish and sharks, but the only turtle we came across was a lone guy in the middle of the bay on our last day. Tai Chi Man is braver than I, and was swimming out beyond the breakers, and got a close-up look at a turtle. That made his day. I was floating around in the surf, so I didn’t see it (and to be honest am somewhat phobic about being in the water with seaweed or sea creatures so it’s probably just as well. Though I should say there was no seaweed as far as I could tell.)

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So what else is new? The gym has been neglected for a couple of weeks. We did go the day after we got home from vacation, but then we had work, and Christmas shopping, and then I had to bake fruit cake ‘n stuff, and before I knew it Christmas Eve had arrived. We had a simple dinner followed by our gift-giving spree, which was very abundant this year.

I had suggested that we all make a wish list this year and actually make an effort to give each other a gift. Not just parents giving stuff to sons, but each of us giving something to the other four. I sewed flannelette stockings with white fleece cuffs and bought applique letters to put on each one. We never did get around to buying hangers for them so they were put under the tree, and they got so full that the gifts were piled up under the tree. I found myself getting quite excited about Christmas!

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I was happy to receive some of the things on my wishlist, such as weight training gloves, the How Not to Die Cookbook, and lots of chocolate! And some things that weren’t on my wishlist too. However there was no yarn in there, nor any gift cards for yarn, so I am feeling like treating myself. I do, after all, have some Christmas money from my mum to add to the running balance in my birthday fund.

I was looking through an old magazine in my sewing room and I really like this sweater (photo on left). It’s a simple rib pattern worked with four strands of aran weight yarn. Should be simple to find yarn for it, right? Not! I have spent maybe three evenings so far looking at different yarn websites and all sorts of yarn, trying to find just the right one. Ideally it needs to be a heavy worsted that knits up at 16 sts/4 inches, and I will need to buy a circ or pair of needle tips that are a US19/15mm.

I like the heathered or tweedy greys but the best yarn for weight, yardage and price so far doesn’t have that option, so I may have to go for off-white or some other colour. I haven’t given up yet.

I didn’t pick up needles or hook for a week after my holiday. This usually happens because I’m feeling some kind of dissatisfaction with my current project(s). These are my WIPs:

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Lanesplitter skirt out of Bernat Pop. Having second thoughts and now wishing I’d striped it with black. I have a ton of Stylecraft Special Aran in black.

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Ripple scarf out of Cascade Sunseeker. Seemed appropriate for holiday crochet. Actually made very little progress while away. Nice cotton/acrylic with a touch of metallic, but cutting yarn every two rows is annoying and I don’t know if I have the perseverance required to finish a whole scarf.

Dishcloth in Bernat Handicrafter. Found it on clearance at Michaels, bought four balls in bright colours. This will at least get finished.

Gee, not much of excitement in the yarny department, is there!

So, work has been quiet, I have been eating too much (well, it’s Christmas and I do love my fruit cake) and the world outside my window is buried in snow. The day we came back from Maui we had the joy of horizontal snow and freezing temperatures, and it’s been mostly below freezing since. Then we had a bunch more snow so we have powder on top of ice. Sure makes for interesting times. Haven’t been out walking because it’s so slippery, and driving even the short commute to work and back was quite tense. We could have gone to the gym tonight but even Tai Chi Man, who is a confident and able driver, decided that once he was home from work he wasn’t going back out again.

I think we are all up to date. I hope you had a wonderful December, with lots of light and enjoyable festivities to brighten this darkest time of the year, and that 2018 brings you everything you wish for and more. Happy New Year!

 

Two sleeps to Maui

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Yes, only two sleeps. OMG! I have made a packing list but need to pull out my cabin-legal backpack and start tossing things in. And as all yarnies know, the most important item in your suitcase is the knitting or crochet project. I am pretty sure I’ll be taking some cotton yarn and a hook or needles with which to make a really simple travel project. I will be mostly offline for a week so I’ll update you all after I get back. This trip is to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We usually go on a small retreat within the province but we’re going further afield for this one.

As for WIPs and other projects:

My only knitted WIP is this one – Lanesplitter skirt.  I made one of these years ago with James C Brett Marble Chunky and I love it. So comfortable. Easy. Customisable for length, width and yarn gauge. This time I’m using the somewhat brighter Bernat Pop! in Full Spectrum. I am withholding my judgment on it until I see whether I dare to wear such a bright garment! It could always be adapted to be a cowl!

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Easy stitch pattern to memorise. With hindsight, it may have toned things down to stripe it with black. Hmmm!

Today I’m not working until 5 so I spent a happy few hours in my sewing room. This year I decided to make some Christmas stockings. If I’d had more time, I would have crocheted them, but time was running out and so I bought flannelette at work in neutral shades and whipped up five of them, adding some white polar fleece around the top.

The five of us are actually making wishlists this year and planning to give each other gifts. Two out of the three boys are working now. The other one is pretty broke after his recent holiday to California but I’m sure he can scrape something together and show willing!

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The foot looks huge from this angle and the cuff isn’t smooth in this photo, but there’s plenty of room for stocking stuffers.

While I was downstairs, I pulled out some bandanas that I’d made a couple of years ago for the farmers market. They didn’t sell and have been sitting around since. I cut them into quarters and hemmed the raw edges, then pulled out another fabric from the drawer and made a few more from scratch.

We’ve been using cloth napkins for years now. We never need to buy paper towels or napkins. Our old cloth ones are so well used now that they are falling apart so these new ones will get lots of use.

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It’s so grey today I went with kitchen photos with the overhead light on. Not perfect but you get the idea.

And finally, I’m sure we’ll get a tree this year but not until dh and I are back from holiday. So for now we have a Lego City Advent Calendar that I couldn’t resist picking up from Costco a while back. It’s fun to have a teeny tiny model to make each day. We’re taking turns.

How are your Christmas preparations going (if you celebrate it)? Do you have lots of gifts to make?

 

FO: Strawberry Shortcake set

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The hat that I was telling you about last time, the Eyelet Messy Bun hat, is now finished, washed and blocked. There were five shades of pink in the cake of Dynasty Cake Twist (Strawberry Shortcake colourway) but because I was only making a hat it was too small to get to the later shades. I even cut a little of the hot pink out so that I could get a good band of the lighter pink at the crown of the hat.

I felt that decreasing to 20 stitches for the bun hole was a bit too much, so I unravelled a round and bound off at 30 stitches.

There was plenty of yarn left so I used the hot pink that I cut out of the skein to start a matching cellphone cosy, then transitioned to the lighter pink, and then the lightest. I never did get to the fifth shade, a really dark pink.

Hopefully the intended recipient will like this set. There is still some of the cake left and I will use it up later for something else. I usually hold on to leftovers when someone asks me to make them something.

I had an unsettled night’s sleep last night, and dreamt a lot. In one of my dreams, I remember someone wearing a really nice sweater. I think it was garter stitch, a really simple shape, sleeveless, and the yarn was beautiful. Do you think I’ve been able to find anything online today that is even close? Nope. Honestly, it’s really frustrating when you are all fired up to spend some money and then you can’t find anything you want!

It felt like that a bit at Michaels today. They’ve been churning out the sale emails, the coupons etc, so I went in there today with a 55% off coupon to take a look at what they had. I didn’t buy a thing! Which is good, really. Because spending money just for the sake of it is not wise.

I am excited for tomorrow as ds2, who has been away on holiday for the last couple of weeks in California, returns and I am going to pick him up at the airport. I can’t wait to see him arrive safely and hear about his trip.

Happy crafting, folks, and talk to you again soon.

 

 

 

WIP update

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WIP update

Hi all, how’s it going? It’s another wet grey day here but that doesn’t get me down. I love every season and long dark evenings are just more of an excuse to knit and crochet!

I’ll be heading out shortly for a gym class but I thought I’d update the blog before I went. The Pebble Beach Baktus shawlette is done, done, DONE! It took about a month but only because I was distracting myself with other projects at the same time. It’s currently sitting on the blocking mats. I steamed the lace edging without too much stretching, just to minimise the curl. Still haven’t decided whether to keep this one or give it away. Maybe I will tuck it away with a couple of other FOs I have, just in case I find a worthy recipient.

I have started a new project, a knitted hat, at the request of a co-worker. She has been asked for a messy bun hat by a family member and doesn’t know where to buy one, so commissioned me to make one. She bought the yarn and is paying me a little, and I cast on last night.

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This yarn is Dynasty Cake Twist, a Caron Cakes knockoff that is our in-store brand at Fabricland. Same fibre content as the Caron too, 80% acrylic and 20% wool. I found this Eyelet Messy Bun pattern on Ravelry last night. It’s easy, with a bit of interest added with the eyelet bands. I cast on fewer stitches as I didn’t do a gauge swatch (gasp!) and thought I might knit more loosely than the pattern gauge suggested.

So far, so good!

Also, an FO!

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A retirement gift for a co-worker – the pattern is Slipper Boots which I made for myself last year with two strands of teal. This time I used the same yarn (Red Heart with Love), doubled, one strand of black and one of Blue Hawaii. She seemed to like them so hopefully they will get some wear.

Well, must dash. Have a great day!