Category Archives: daily life

Journal Journey commences

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My brain has been mulling over all sorts of ideas for handmade journals and the last three days at work have been getting in the way of the creative stuff I want to do!

Having said that, it was a pretty productive three days in that I did get a lot of fabric onto tables/shelves, and a lot of new bags and sewing machine totes hung up/placed on the shop floor. But today, well, it was the perfect sewing day.

Yes, our first snowfall – and it was big!

Nothing like a snowy day to make you feel all cosy and warm inside. It has snowed all day, though it’s much lighter this evening. Ds1 and I cleared the driveway mid-afternoon and it was the heavy wet stuff – about 10 inches deep!! (Sadly, our smaller apricot tree didn’t survive the added weight, and a few other trees in our yard suffered broken branches.)

We had a great party at work on the weekend. We made Christmas stars/snowflakes out of fabric – we all chose different fabrics and they all looked pretty – and we had pizza from a local pizza place (not a chain) which provided dessert pizza in addition to the individual ones we ordered. Pumpkin, apple and blueberry dessert pizza! YES! We also had the opportunity of buying stuff at better discounts than the usual staff discounts, because the owner recognises how much extra stress the staff have been under the last six months. My stash was enhanced considerably!

It’s all stuff I have plans for. Lots of small cuts of quilting cottons in all colours for scrap/patchwork projects. Meshing for laundry bags. Canvas for journals. Batiks because…well…batiks! (Those were lovingly washed, ironed and folded and put in the batik drawer with the others.) Curtain grommets for bag handles. Clearance patterns that were cheap cheap cheap.

So what did I get done today? These…

The red bag is for ds1 and matches some masks that I made for him. The second photo is the back of the bag – as you can see, it has meshing on the back and he can use it to wash his masks in, if he doesn’t want to just toss them in with his work clothes without protection. The third photo is a small laundry bag which will be great for bras or masks (I always use the one that Knix sent me with my new bras and it will be handy to have a second) and the last photo is a super-sized one with the zipper across the centre.

Once I had those made, I moved on to making a journal cover. I was a little nervous about actually getting started as I didn’t want to mess it up, but really how bad could it be? The worst thing that could happen was that I might have to change course a bit.

In fact that’s what I did. I cut out the canvas to be an inch bigger all around than my copy paper, because I intend to use copy paper that’s folded in half for my signature (innards). I fused Thermolam to the back, and belatedly realised that instead of cutting the interfacing at 8.5 x 11″ I should probably have made it 9.5 x 12. Oh well!

I had some fun cutting and fusing fabric to the canvas and fully intended to use my sewing machine to free-motion some stitching on top – but forgot and went ahead and sewed the canvas to the lining fabric. Duh!

Slight change of plan! I hand-embroidered some running stitches and daisies on the front, then topstitched it. So now that’s done, it looks like this…

Cute coordinating quilt cottons from work

I’m pretty pleased with it. I’m sure I will get better with practice. I was about to add the eyelets along the spine when Mr Fixit came home and said if I wanted to get to the grocery store we should go. (He has newer winter tires on his car and I prefer it when he drives in the snow.) So now I am cooking dinner and itching to get back to my sewing room 😀

I have played around with a bit of paper dyeing. I tried just swabbing paper with a black teabag, which worked quite well, and I’ve also tested out sprinkling wet paper with turmeric, instant coffee and paprika.

Original paper on left, tea-dyed on right
Just after sprinkling!

The turmeric came out best.

That’s it for now. I will show you the finished journal when it’s done, hopefully over the weekend. Happy crafting!

Back from being pampered, and some FOs

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Well, what a week! Mr Fixit and I enjoyed a lovely break away from it all in rural British Columbia. We were served gourmet vegan meals three times a day, took twice-daily walks in the woods, had three spa treatments each (mine included a pedicure, a facial and an all-over seasalt scrub), sunbathed (because the weather was amazingly warm for the time of year, and windless), and took a complete break from social media. We even swam in the nearby lake, which was cold enough to make you gasp and even go a little numb when you submerged yourself.

No photos for you, I’m afraid, as I only switched on my phone or iPad to check for messages from the boys at home. But if you want to check out the place, go to silverhills.ca and you can see for yourself.

I took the Habitat Cardigan project with me (link goes to my Ravelry project page) and finished it partway through the week.

It’s soft and drapey in the Loops & Threads Serpentine/Meandering Minis. Perfect for this time of year.

The construction is easy – just a rectangle, to which you add an extension to make it cover your bum and then a collar and cuffs. Pattern is by Jess at Make & Do Crew.

With that finished, I picked up a skein of the other yarn I took with me on my retreat, Berroco Espresso, which is a chainette yarn in acrylic/cotton. I whipped out a quick basket with an 8mm hook in a couple of days.

I have a second skein of this yarn and am in the process of making a pumpkin with it. It should be finished quite soon.

I’m excited about my birthday present to myself. My birthday was back in August, but I waited until Labour Day as I thought that there would be no lake swimming after that (I was wrong)! Then I got the massive toothache and waited until I had that dealt with, and by the time those aches and pains had gone I was out of town. No more excuses left, I went to the piercing place today and now have a new titanium helix stud.

My plan is to wait for it to heal and then get a cuff to put in, in place of the stud. And buy three extra pairs of studs to go in the old piercings.

Gosh, look at all that natural grey/brown hair! For the first time in ages, I don’t have any colour in my hair.

The fall weather hit properly yesterday, with the temperature dropping below 20 and the rain starting. I do love this time of year, though I’m glad the rain held off until this week.

Hello September

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I’m currently enjoying a beautiful long weekend. It’s Labour Day here tomorrow and I booked four days off from work to coincide with Mr Fixit’s time off.

Thursday was an insanely busy day at work, moving tonnes of fabric around, shifting tables, reconfiguring parts of the store, and so having this weekend off feels more precious than ever. (Also I am going to a four day week instead of three soon, so definitely appreciating this leisure time.)

Friday was a restful day. I was letting my body recover from all of the strenuous activity of the day before. Saturday we enjoyed a mini road trip south, repeating one of our favourite traditions for this time of year. We stopped to pick up lunch from our friends’ food truck at a farmers market, sat in a park to eat it, continued on to a fruit stand in a little town, bought lots of peaches, plums, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, peppers and beets, then turned around and stopped for a cup of tea. Further up the valley we parked by the side of the road at a small beach and enjoyed a swim and a sunbathe.

Today we were out early again and hiked up to the top of a local mountain, which we followed up with tea and baked goods at our favourite tea shop. This afternoon, after a fruit salad made with lots of local fruit, we hit the gym.

After dinner tonight, I finished a couple of things that I started yesterday. This crochet beanie was made from a cake of Caron Cupcakes grabbed out of the stash yesterday morning to keep my hands busy while Mr Fixit drove. (I used one of my new KnitPro Waves hooks and it was very comfortable.)

And the other finished project is this bag. I have seen some people on a Ravelry sewing group making Japanese rice bags (good tutorial here). They looked pretty simple. Just four squares for the sides, another square for the base, same for the lining, and sew them together incorporating tabs or loops for a drawstring.

Of course this bag would look a lot classier with fewer fabrics but I decided to do this…

Yes, I tipped all my quilting cotton scraps onto the floor and dug down to the bottom and grabbed pieces at random to make crazy quilt blocks. So the five outer panels are all different, all clashing, and once I’d sewn them last night I started to doubt myself!! (I started with 11″ squares of sew-in fleece and pieced the fabric right onto the fleece. They needed trimming a bit afterwards so ended up 10.75″ square.)

Tonight I thought, “To heck with it, I’m going to do it anyway,” cut some squares for the lining (all different, of course) and put it all together. It’s really easy to make, the trick being that when you sew the seams you leave the last little bit unsewn so that the corners come together neatly. (Watch the video I linked above.)

Seen from another angle…

And the inside (with my hand-dyed yarn inside)…

Oh yes, I haven’t told you about the yarn yet. These were four balls of white Drops Paris (worsted weight cotton). I dyed them with turquoise and yellow, overlapping the colours in the middle to make green.

This was only my second attempt at dyeing yarn. I think I am going to take four balls at a time and use different colours and methods on each batch and see how they turn out. I have no plans for the yarn once it’s dyed.

If you live in North America, happy Labour Day! How will you be spending it?

Birthday weekend!

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I am in the middle of three days off, tomorrow being Monday and my birthday.

We didn’t manage an overnight camping/cabin trip, sadly, as it was too late to book anything and I didn’t want to just show up somewhere and hope to get a campsite. So instead we went out for the day, Mr Fixit and I, and were tourists in our own town. Well, our own province, rather. We drove to a good hiking spot that we’d been to before, separately. I had been there with my youngest son and some homeschool friends years ago, and Mr Fixit had taken ds1 and ds3 up there when they all had new fancy cameras to test out.

We set out early enough for it to still be cool enough to hike up a mountain without dying of heat, though in fact it only reached about 25 today, and there was quite a bit of cloud. Word from other hikers was that there were two bears about, but we didn’t see them. We hiked to the summit, enjoyed the view for a while, then hiked down.

Afterwards, it was off to a local vegan restaurant for lunch (they are allowing people to eat at their outside tables) and then to a park for some beach time. It was really windy and definitely not hot, surprisingly for August, but I swam and sunbathed, and Mr Fixit read his book. If it had been hotter, we would definitely have stayed longer. I didn’t feel like I was topping up the tan at all, though sitting here on my couch tonight I can see my shoulders are a bit red.

Avocado grilled “cheese” sandwich
Ginger snap and oatmeal choc chip!

And as if that wasn’t enough fresh air and exercise, I also spent a couple of hours cleaning the house this evening, which feels awesome as it was overdue.

Tomorrow I shall have to make myself a birthday cake! Not sure what kind yet – it will depend on ingredients on hand as I didn’t think of that when we went to the supermarket yesterday. I will leave you with this little sign that we found along the trail today.

And the heat continues…

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Regardless of the high temperatures and stuffy house, the crochet continues, because we crafters are always planning for winter!

The Habitat Cardigan is growing. The back section is about 14″ long now, so I’m over halfway done with the initial rectangle. I have one more colour to incorporate and then I’ll start repeating them.

When the back is 26″ long, I have to add a “tush extension”, a large collar, and cuffs, so I have a long way to go yet. It would be great if this cardigan could be finished by the end of August.

I was so overheated yesterday I went for a swim in the lake. It’s been a few years, I think, since I did that, and it was very pleasant. I think I shall have to do the same today. The housework is done (the vacuuming had to be done this morning before it was too hot), I need to make bread, and Mr Fixit and I plan to go to the gym later, but I’m sure I can fit in a quick swim too.

How’s your weekend going?

Summer heat

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Summer has hit with a vengeance and we are currently having a week of temperatures over 30 degrees (that’s 90 to you old-fashioned types). Today the analog thermometer outside hit 39, my car thermometer hit 36, and it made our house pretty darned uncomfortable. We don’t have AC, just fans, and we keep the windows closed during the day and open them up in the evening and leave them open until the next morning.

Me outside the tea shop with an unsexy sunhat, trying not to cook!

Luckily I had a small project to do in my sewing room this evening, and the basement is always a lot cooler than the main floor upstairs. We have…wait for it…BABY YODA fabric at work. I didn’t realise we had a range of the Mandalorian fabric until I was working the till yesterday and saw someone had bought some. I just had to buy a small amount to make a mask.

And while I was at it, I made a second mask out of some long-held stash fabric. Neither of the masks has interfacing, just two layers of cotton. I’m hoping they won’t be as hot as my other ones.

Isn’t it CUTE?!

I FINALLY learned that if I trim a little fabric off the top and bottom edges of the lining it sits better inside the outer layer. This is the Craft Passion pattern, cut men’s size, but shortened at the sides of the face. And with longer elastic this time, and cord stoppers for the back of the neck.

So what else have I been doing?

Loops & Threads Meandering Minis
Loops & Threads Meandering Serpentine

Pretty yarn! The bag is full of the Meandering Minis that I bought mid-2019 on a whim – a ‘clearance-yarn-fumes’ induced purchase from Michaels. I wound all the little skeins into balls and put them in a bag and browsed patterns trying to find the right project. Then one day recently I dragged Mr Fixit back into Michaels just for the heck of it and found the larger skeins of the Serpentine yarn – it’s exactly the same yarn/fibre content, but doesn’t match any of my minis.

However I bought 500 grams of it (yes, on clearance again) so then I had more options for what to make. I really wanted to make a garment – I don’t need more blankets or accessories – and I finally plumped for the Habitat Cardigan by Jess of Make & Do Crew (link to my Ravelry project page – do not click if you have problems with migraines or seizures as some people have reported such things since the roll-out of the new updated look).

It has grown a few stripes since this photo.

And I had forgotten that I sewed a little vinyl zippered pouch until I started picking photos to add to this post. This was a tutorial by Erica Arndt on YouTube.

Dodgy stitching – don’t look too closely.

I think that’s it for now. It’s almost bedtime and I can guarantee the ceiling fan is staying on again tonight. Have a great week, stay healthy, stay calm, stay comfortable!

The end of June already…

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The end of June already…

Hi, bloggy friends!

Wow, summer is one-third over and so far it’s been very comfortable, temperature-wise. In fact, we’ve had quite a few rainy days, including thunderstorms. I do prefer it when the thermometer reads less than 30 Celsius.

After I finished the baby blanket that I showed you last time, I had a bit of a slump, when I WANTED to be making something but couldn’t figure out WHAT I wanted to make. I have some nice yarns in the stash, fabrics too, but nothing was calling to me.

There’s been the extra stress at work – what with enforcing the customer limit and mask policy, and the volume of sales, and on top of all that trying to get everything ready for inventory, there have been extra hours worked and extra pressure on the staff.

This has made my days off even more precious and even though I have had an outwardly relaxing day today (baking bread and zucchini cake, crocheting while watching YouTube videos, prepping dinner) I can feel the tightness in my stomach and I am hoping a visit to the gym later will help burn off some of that feeling.

I did whip up a quick shawl. It’s a pattern I’ve used before – the Me Shawl from Clare at bobwilson123. Last time I made it, I did the popcorn/bobble border and it looked awesome but this time I wanted it to be quick and easy. So I ended up doing just row 1 of Clare’s Jessica shawl edging, which is just a simple shell.

I used Caron X Pantone Bamboo which I bought last summer. I bought very little yarn last year but this was from a trip to Michaels where I fell hard for three braids of this yarn plus some cute Loops & Threads Meandering Minis because they were on clearance. Each braid comes with 20 grams each of five colours and I had wound them into cakes some time ago. This shawl used ten of the small balls, so 200 grams in all.

It was nice to have yarn running through my hands again, but it was a super-quick project and now I need to find another one!

I am feeling a little discombobulated about something else in my life too. Ravelry has been a big part of my interwebs time for 12 years. I have over 700 projects recorded, my pattern library (admittedly quite small), my queue of things I’d like to make some day, my favourites, my stash and over 13000 forum posts on record.

I have invested a lot into Ravelry over the years, added to the database, linked my free patterns through the site, given tonnes of advice to people asking for help in the forums. It’s been part of my everyday.

But suddenly, Ravelry had a facelift. A couple of weeks ago, the look totally changed. It was all right, I suppose, though there were some things that were a bit annoying, like text not fitting into boxes properly, and other bugs. I thought, hmmm, ok, learning curve, I can get used to this. Then people started to talk about the problems they were having with the new version. Eye strain, headaches, migraines and even a few seizures triggered by something within the new design. Reluctantly, it seemed, the site owners gave us the option to click back into “classic” Ravelry, with a warning that it was temporary.

Now, I’ve never ever had a problem with any website before, but something about the new site bothered me. The turquoise boxes with the hard black drop shadows were glaring. I found that I was wanting to spend less time browsing the forums. I started to get headaches. Going back into “classic” didn’t get rid of the headaches. So while I’ve wanted to follow the discussions in the forums about the whole situation, I’ve had to pop in and out as quickly as I can. I have a lot of sympathy for those who are susceptible to migraines because some have had to stop using Ravelry altogether.

Yes, I know the site is free to use.

Yes, it’s up to the owners how their site looks.

Yes, I know I have a choice whether to use the site or not.

BUT Ravelry has prided itself on being inclusive in so many ways. Rainbow flags, Pride month threads, Black Lives Matter threads and donations. So why have they just taken a backwards step to make themselves LESS inclusive of people with visual/neurological issues?

There are many people online who are saying, “What’s the problem? I like the new look!” But those people are obviously not experiencing any new symptoms and have no empathy for those who are.

I am sad and annoyed and missing my usual dose of Rav. No doubt there is a reason for this new look and I don’t think it is just cosmetic. Some of it is to do with setting up the design for future development, but maybe there are other, as yet unannounced, plans in the pipeline which preclude going back to the old look.

Just in case, I have downloaded all my data from Ravelry – it’s all in raw form, and I hope not to ever need the contents of that file, but it’s my insurance!

Back to work!

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Back to work!

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Coordinating mask and hair!

I was called back to work last week. Almost all of our staff came in for two solid days and we hung plastic barriers around the till and the cutting tables, taped arrows on the floor, cleaned, tidied and organised our buns off. Sunday was a day of rest and reopening day was Monday (yesterday).

We don’t have to wear masks but I made myself an extra-special one anyway!

The first day back went well, with customers happy to see us open, and OK with waiting if there was already the maximum allowed in the store.

Since my last blog post, I have making, yes you guessed it, more bags. I’m afraid there has been no crochet or knitting. I had a bit of a repetitive strain pain in the base of my left thumb which was irritated by the blanket knitting. Instead I upcycled a couple of jeans pockets and some extra bits and pieces I had lying around.

After I took the photos, I added some turquoise stitching around the seamline, though I don’t think my machine is meant to be embroidering on multiple layers of denim. It doesn’t look as good as it does on thinner fabric.

I am in love with this bag that I made today. I sized it based on what I had of the fabric, bearing in mind the floral and pink fabrics were both left over from sewing garments.

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I added extra features like the detachable wrist strap and the keyring on the side of the inner pocket. It’s a big bag – about 12.5″ tall.

So that’s two more bags for the #dodgybagmal2020 that Ali of Little Drops of Wonderful is running this month.

FOs: sewn and crocheted

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FOs: sewn and crocheted

G’day all! I hope I find you well.

My 4S program is really helping to keep me moving. The Strength part has been a circuit that I’ve set up downstairs, with some music, and various exercises with dumbbells and bands and things. The Stamina is mostly walking, with some gardening thrown in. The Stretch is yoga, and the weather has co-operated so that I could enjoy some Sunbathing, in my swimsuit no less!

Some days, I’ve managed three out of four, though my goal is two.

I just realised Sewing is another S that I enjoy, and I did finish a couple more things today. These shorts…

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…are not something that I would be seen dead in in public! However I had this remnant and thought I’d try the “make a pair of leggings from a pair you already own” as per the Crafty Gemini tutorial. I made them as shorts because (a) it was just an experiment and (b) I only had a small piece of fabric. I must say, I was surprised with how well they worked out. My new sewing machine has a bunch of stitch options and I used a couple of the stretch stitches to put these shorts together. If this fabric was a lot sturdier and held in the <ahem> wobbly bits a bit better they would work as swimshorts and I could make a bikini top to go with them.

At least my old fear of sewing knit fabric is waning!

An old interest has been sparked again recently. I pulled out my quilting books, some of which are full of templates for foundation piecing. What this involves is tracing the outlines onto a sheer fabric, interfacing or tracing paper, or you can photocopy them from the book and use that instead. Then you place small pieces of fabric behind the paper outlines and sew them together, through the paper, in the order of the numbers on the paper. The paper is torn off at the end.

I thought I’d have a play with this rat block, to which I added fabric top and bottom and then turned it into a zippered pouch.

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This is a pretty sloppy effort! I’m not proud of it. The zipper seams are not perfect, the quilting lines didn’t stay in the ditch, and the part on the top of the head where it meets the ear doesn’t match up. I could blame getting used to the new sewing machine but I should probably just suck it up and take responsibility!

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I am happier with this result – the Loops & Threads Barcelona cowl/snood. The colourway is Lapis. It’s very muted but I do like the variations. The circumference is 29″ and the length top to bottom is 21″, which is long enough to be able to wear it as a hood.

And my other crochet FO:

Four little nesting pots or bowls, for which I have no plans at the moment. They could be used as mini yarn bowls, plant pot covers or just catch-alls for random bits and pieces. These used up some of my miscellaneous DK yarn that I’d wound into cakes using odds and ends of different colours. By using two cakes at a time and holding two strands together, the colours seem to work! And I like leaving the ends hanging, trimmed to a uniform length, for added quirkiness.

Well, I think that’s us up to date. I need to get a daylight photo of my knitted blanket to show the progress. Tomorrow, if I remember. Take care!

 

 

So excited!

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Guess what! I have a new sewing machine!

It’s a Janome 4120QDC and I bought it after a fair amount of research of brands and prices based on the features I wanted in a new machine. My basic machine that I’ve had for over 20 years is a Janome, and I’ve been thinking of upgrading for a couple of years. Of course, with most stores closed, I didn’t get to play with different machines before I bought one. I ordered this from a local quilt shop, e-transferred the money, and they called me a week later.

I have read the manual, watched the DVD (how old-fashioned!) and tomorrow I will test it out.

One of the things people are finding out right now is how high maintenance they are! Do you usually go to the hair salon every 6 weeks, do you get your nails done every month, get waxed, tanned, massaged, whatever? Well, with all this social distancing, we are having to be more self-sufficient. Luckily I have been cutting my own hair since Christmas. We have clippers, scissors and combs, and that’s all I need to give myself a short back and sides, a bit longer on top. In fact, after I’d done the 23mm job the other day, I went back over it with the 15mm. It’s SO tempting to just keep going and do the lot but I didn’t!

My nails are natural – they grow really well when I’m not working, though I still break one now and then, so they aren’t all even lengths.

And my hair, well, that hasn’t been a natural colour for a long time! When I cut it, the old colour was gone. And I actually quite liked it brown with a bit of grey. So I left it for a few days. But I had bought some more Manic Panic Flash Lightning and some Atomic Turquoise and Hot Hot Pink (thank you, Sally Beauty, for doing curbside pickup) so today I took the plunge and did my whole head!

It’s kind of a tie dye look, isn’t it!?

Yesterday I had a big sewing jag. I was going to make a bag, but instead got sidetracked looking through bits and pieces in my stash. And I’ve had these thin knits for years, bought when I was quite new to working at the fabric store and this stuff was $3 a metre and I bought far too much of it in three or four colours.

I finally feel like I made something worthwhile out of it.

The skirts are simple rectangles with elasticated waists, with a half lining inside in the same fabric. I didn’t even neaten the hems. And the PJs are from a self-made pattern from an old pair.

The tie dye skirt is a rayon fabric that I recently brought home.

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I used the fabric sideways because I needed the extra length to fit around me with enough to spare, and that also meant I could use the selvage as the hem without sewing. (Can you tell I’m a lazy ass sewist?)

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This is my batik stash. I had them all in one drawer. The small messy pile is made up of leftover scraps but the other pieces are good sizes. The turtle ones, second from left, are half-yard cuts from a quilt shop in Maui. After I laid them out, I washed them on cold, hung them to get mostly dry and ironed them. They are now neatly folded and back in the drawer. Yes, the untouchable part of my stash! You know that feeling, saving it for ‘best’, like precious yarn, or the good china!!

And finally (at last, I hear you say) here’s my finished Cakes Two to Tango shawl. It took almost two complete cakes of Lion Brand Mandala.

I love it and want to make another someday.